What is your gut telling you? Those knots in your stomach, that queasy feeling, and those butterflies are signals to your brain that an emotion, hormone, or other signal needs to be released. The main driver of this signal is not your brain, but your gut microbiome! Yes—your internal ecosystem of bacteria does communicate, talking to your brain and the rest of the microbes in your body. In fact, it even communicates with the food you eat and the environment around you! In total, there are over 1.5 million bacteria species that have been identified, with about one trillion as yet undiscovered. So if you want to blame your body for your sugar cravings, it may actually be your gut you have to thank.
One of the most fascinating areas of the medical world is the discovery of how our gut is as intelligent as our brain, and the gut and brain each has an ecosystem of their own. We should understand the importance of maintaining a healthy gut flora, what can harm that balance, and what can help it flourish. If you optimize your diet to feed your bacteria, you will see and feel a huge improvement in your mood, energy, digestion, overall health, and of course, your immunity.
10 Fast Facts
- The gut is the only organ that can survive without the brain.
- Up to 95% of serotonin levels are found in our bowels.
- The gut contains 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.
- Your mental illness is more likely your gut illness—two million people suffer from IBS, a condition of too much serotonin in the gut.
- Since the two brains talk to each other, therapies on one will help the other.
- It is our gut that senses our feelings and tells our brains. That is why you get butterflies in the stomach and not in the brain.
- Most of the communication fibers travel from the gut to the brain, not the other way around.
- Our gut contains trillions of microorganisms. In fact, there are more bacteria in our bodies (up to 90%) than human cells (only 10%).
- Eating a healthy diet can lead to a healthy mind. Feeding the bacteria a diet that makes them thrive can elevate mood, decrease diseases, and strengthen the immune system, since 80% of the immune system is housed in the gut.
- The bacteria have their own source of signals that communicate with your body and brain, so without this ecosystem in our bodies, we may not function as efficiently.
It’s Time to Flip the Script
Our gut bacteria are responsible for a number of functions, from influencing your metabolism, producing enzymes for digestion, absorption of nutrients, breaking down fibers, and creating vitamins to impacting your blood sugars and cholesterol, influencing your mood and emotions, and communicating to cells to send signals to the brain. The bacteria also produce B vitamins and in fact, the gut microbes produce over half of your vitamin K. Really, what would we do without those little bugs?
We certainly thrive because of our gut bacteria and they are involved in every process in our body, so why do we take antibiotics to get rid of them? This is why the medical world has flipped upside down—now that we are learning more about the gut and its connection to our overall health, it will forever change our approach on healing our body through our gut, increasing our resilience, preventing disease, and improving everything from our moods to our attitudes.
While all of this information may come as a fascinating surprise, it is truly the future of medicine. I am driven to learning more and have been digging voraciously into this research. We all need to learn more about this science, because the focus on gut integrity is what is going to protect you, heal you, and make you resilient!
The next bite of food you take, think about how it is feeding or harming your ecosystem from within. Your diet certainly does more than fuel your body, but it is balancing your inner terrain that is either making you healthy or making you sick.
Betsy is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator, Integrative and Functional Medicine Nutrition Therapist, and RYT200 yoga teacher. She specializes in nutrigenomics, gut health, food sensitivities, detoxing, inflammatory diseases, and longevity living. She also understands the importance of living a mindful life and incorporates her background of mindfulness and yoga teaching to her practice. Betsy is a professional speaker and advocate for healthy living and is available for individual consultations, group programs, and speaking engagements.