What happens after you swallow food?
Well, it gives you energy.
And it probably turns to fat.
Whatever is left makes its way out of your system.
That’s the extent to which we think about food once it’s chewed and swallowed.
We spend more time thinking about the food we’re GOING to eat than the food we’ve already eaten.
But some very interesting things happen once your meal makes its way down your throat into your stomach.
Your gut starts talking to your brain. Your immune system kicks into gear. You feed trillions of bacteria.
Preparing a meal and eating it is child’s play compared to the wonders that commence once food hits your gut.
You’re no longer in charge. Your body takes over.
Your magical, miraculous, mysterious body, which knows more about chemistry than the most distinguished professor.
It’s time to look at nutrition from the gut’s point of view…
And it’s a whole new world down there.
Your Second Brain
Butterflies in your stomach. A gut instinct. Heaviness after a large meal.
Your gut is talking to you all the time. How often do you listen?
Most of us learned in school that our heads do the thinking and our guts do the digesting. But now researchers have discovered that’s not true.
You have a “second brain” in your gut, also known as the enteric nervous system.
It consists of 100 million neurons, the same type of cells found in the brain.
Those neurons guide digestion, but that’s not all. They’re in constant communication with your brain. They influence how you think and feel.
The gut-mood connection is SO strong that it’s changing how some doctors treat depression.
For a long time, doctors thought that mood disorders (like depression and anxiety) caused digestive disorders (like constipation or irritable bowel syndrome).
Now they think it’s just as likely that digestive disorders cause mood disorders.
What happens in your gut affects what’s going on in your mind.
Case in point: serotonin.
If you’ve caught any ads for antidepressants lately, then you know the story the pharmaceutical companies want you to believe.
Depression is caused by a deficiency in the neurotransmitter serotonin. Antidepressants increase serotonin levels in the brain. Problem solved.
But 95% of the body’s serotonin is NOT found in the brain.
It’s found in the bowels.
Your digestive tract actually makes most of your body’s supply of serotonin.
So you can actually eat your way to higher serotonin levels.
On the flip side, taking antidepressants could help stubborn digestive problems.
Your gut and your mood are interlinked. You can’t treat one without treating the other.
The Immune System in Your Gut
So your gut digests food and talks to your brain.
But that’s not all.
It’s also the front line of defense against infection.
Nearly two-thirds of your immune system is located in your gut.
You need a strong immune presence down there, because the foods you swallow contain foreign microbes. Most of them are harmless, but some aren’t. Your gut needs to be on guard so it can target and remove anything harmful.
You’ve probably noticed that you don’t get sick as easily when you’re eating well.
The better you eat, the better your immune system works.
But there’s more to the gut-immune connection than eating more fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes your gut’s immune system gets overwhelmed, overloaded, or confused.
It can mistake everyday food particles for dangerous invaders, causing food allergies.
The best way to train your gut’s immune system is to follow a “leaky gut protocol.”
These are programs that help strengthen the intestinal lining, so that particles can’t get from your gut into your bloodstream.
They usually involve a diet plan, minimizing medication, stress management, and eliminating toxins from your living environment.
And the anecdotal reports are astounding. A leaky gut protocol can help ease chronic health conditions, clear up skin conditions, reduce allergies, and resolve digestive disorders.
It’s crazy to think you could heal your body just by healing your gut.
But that’s not all your gut can do…
The Aliens in Your Stomach
So there aren’t REALLY aliens in your stomach.
But there are strange organisms living there.
Organisms who aren’t human and don’t answer to you.
Your gut is home to TRILLIONS of bacteria.
In fact, your body is more bacteria than human. You have slightly more bacteria in your body than you have human cells.
You need these bacteria to survive. They form your microbiome. They help you digest food and a whole lot more.
The health of your microbiome says a lot about the state of your own health.
Which is why you don’t want to kill those bacteria off with antibiotics or starve them with processed foods.
So when you think about what food to eat next…
Don’t just ask yourself whether it will taste good or whether it’s healthy.
Ask yourself if your gut will like it.
Happy gut, happy life.