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The Brain That's Not In Your Head

August 19, 2013

 

Do you know that you have a second brain? That's right. We have two brains and no, the second one is not in your head. This brain is actually bigger than the one in your skull and its location may actually surprise you.

Have you ever heard to phrases, "Trust your gut" and "Go with your gut"? Or what about, "I had a gut feeling about that"? We use these phrases all the time but do you ever stop and think about why? As these commonly used sayings show, we seem to intuitively know that our second brain is our digestive system or I like to call it our "gut."

Our gut is HUGE! The small intestine alone is over 20 feet long and along the length of it are folds. Each fold contains more folds such that, if you were to unfold the entire small intestine, it would cover a tennis court. In other words, you have tennis court's surface area folded up inside you! But that's not all! Associated with this enormous surface area in the gut is nerves and other nervous system tissue. In fact, we have more nervous system tissue in the gut than we do in our brain!

 

So why is this important? It's important because the health of your gut impacts all other aspects of your health. Don't believe me? Here are 4 reasons why the health of your second brain impacts other aspects of your health.

  1. A healthy gut allows proper absorption - Remember that you really are what you eat. There is nothing else that creates your body than the food that you eat. In other words all the food you eat, eventually becomes you. Your gut is where all of that happens. When there is inflammation, yeast, lack of bile, or bacterial imbalance in the gut, absorption doesn't happen effectively and you don't have the materials you need to build health. When it's strong and healthy, all you need will be available to you.

  2. A healthy gut means healthy elimination - You've have to get rid of everything that you don't need right? That happens through the gut also. The inefficient elimination of waste products is a major cause of dysfunction and disease. A healthy gut ensures that the toxins and wastes are efficiently removed from our body, so things can function optimally.

  3. A healthy gut is good for your mental health - Most of the treatments used for mental health issues like depression and anxiety, focus on the neurotransmitter, serotonin. It is believed that this important neurotransmitter plays a key role in mood and acts as a "feel good" neurotransmitter. 80% of all your serotonin is produced in your gut. Therefore all mental health issues need gut support in order to balance serotonin levels. A healthy gut goes a long way to keep us feeling happy and balanced.

  4. A healthy gut is vital for your immune system - I consider the gut to be the huge "front door" to our body. Since this "front door" is such a huge place, it makes sense that a lot of our immune system would be there. In fact 75 - 80% of our immune system is located between the mouth and the large intestine. When our gut is strong and healthy, so is our immune system.

There's a mantra in the Naturopathic world which says, "when in doubt, treat the gut." What this means is that many, if not all, health issue have a gut component. By recognizing this and supporting the gut, the body can begin to heal, no matter what the issue may be.

Everyday your gut is determining what should come into your body and become a part of you. It's also determining what you don't need and what needs to be eliminated. It's working hard to take care of you and keep you healthy. It's an amazing "second brain" that need as much, if not more, respect and care as you give the brain in your skull. So love your gut and take care of your gut, but above all, trust your gut. It won't let you down.

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