We’re all obsessed with our guts. We hate our: big guts, beer guts, gut rolls, bloated guts (shall I continue?). We feel like we’re always working toward flat bellies, washboard abs, and lean cores. We are hard on our guts and usually embarrassed by a lot of its actions (insert “toilet flush” sound effect now). But, research is telling us that the gut (stomach, small intestine, and colon) has more control over the brain and body than we realized and that we’re all obsessed for the wrong reasons.
The brain and gut are more connected and alike than we might realize:
- They both have their own nervous systems – Essentially, the gut can function without any oversight from the brain.
- They have the same number of neurons – Yes, you read that correctly.
- “Gut feeling” isn’t just an old phrase, it’s real – 95% of the body’s serotonin (our own feel-good chemical) can be found in our GI system.
- The network of nerves in our gut is just as chemically complex as the gray matter in our heads – If our intestines were just for moving and absorbing food, such an advanced nervous system would be an odd waste of energy.
- The gut hears it first – The largest nerve in our body, the vagus nerve, sends signals directly from the gut to the brain, but rarely the other way around. Point being, your gut feels it first, then sends it to the team upstairs.
So what does this all mean? It means we need to start appreciating our insides for what they do in the background for us every day, and stop stressing about what form it’s taking on the outside (because you know your gut is feeling that stress!). Feeding the gut food it loves (artichoke, asparagus, endive, green bananas, garlic, onion, parsnips, whole grain wheat, rye and oats to name a few things) will not only flatten your belly but could help improve your mood, skin, energy, focus, memory and more. Feel the love and appreciate that amazing gut of yours!