Any of the following lines sounds familiar?
- “My Gut Instinct says I should definitely not go over there…”
- “My Gut Reaction was to scream and run away”
- “It’s a hard decision for sure, maybe just Go with your Gut”
- “I don’t know guys, I just feel it in my Gut, you know?”
OK, so what do all these sayings have in common? [Aside from the speaker obviously leading a challenging, confusing, and indecisive life]
They all lend to the idea that, some way, some how, in our culture we have linked the gut/stomach with our intuition about feelings, and even decision making[ !].
Intuition is commonly regarded as our “Sixth Sense” and feelings and decision making are commonly regarded as functions of the ever powerful maestro that conducts from his lectern above our necks AKA The brain. Hence the title of this article was born.
In doing research for a client recently, I came across a field of research known as Neurogastroenterology which studies the Enteric Nervous System [ENS]. Evidently the ENS has more neurons than the spinal cord and covers a surface area 100x greater than that of our skin. Lastly, and most importantly, Neurogastroenterology is investigating how the ENS can [and does!] operate independently of brain input. Infact, studies so far are showing that the ENS actually sends input TO the brain in regards to stress, sadness, memory, learning, and even decision-making.
First and foremost, thanks to Jennovafoodblog for her recent most about the importance of keeping your Gut happy.
It’s awesome how the world wide web connects us all. Having just come across this notion of Neurogastroenterology, I was just going to write a very similar article. She summed everything up so well, please check out her blog and learn more than you ever thought you could about what’s really going on inside that stomach of yours and how you can keep it functioning at tip-top shape. After all… if it’s going to be impacting our emotions and behaviors in ways we never before that, it would behoove of us to take good care of it.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t want a surgeon or financial planner to be conducting her business with a full-blown head trauma – – but what if they have all their gut flora all out of whack? Should we be equally as concerned?
According to Canadian Neuro-scientist Jane Foster, “The gut biome is actually an interface between your diet and your genetics. The human diet powerfully influences the makeup of the gut flora, and the gut flora in turn influence our makeup.” Foster goes on to say, “Our genetics determine our predispositions [to food and otherwise] but the gut biome influences how those predispositions function on a day to day basis”.
In Foster’s experiments she has found that essentially from birth on there is constant cross-talk between gut bacteria and the brain. In those early stages, that communication has been shown to play a significant role in shaping how the brain is wired and influencing items such as anxiety, fear, memory, learning, and possibly even autistic traits. Foster sums it up well stating, “The important take home message [is] these are not two separate systems, they are two parts of a single system”.