Why Gut Matters So Much

photo By Ilya Shishikhin on unsplash

Your gut never lies. How often do you regret listening to your gut? Or how often you feel right on going with your gut instinct. Its something that we all pay attention to.

This means gut has a system in place that not only warns you in time of danger but also guides and directs you when you are at an important cross junction. It can be about falling for someone you like, suspicion lurking in your head about doing or restrain from something or that craving for your favourite food.

Gut Is Your Second Brain

Your gut has a brain. It is so comprehensive and meticulous that it is called the second brain of human body.

It is connected to the brain in the head but can work independently too. It is like a super highway of information going from the gut to the brain and vice versa.

You would be surprised that it has trillions of microbes inside, 10 times more microbes than all the cells in the entire body.

What Does This Second Brain Do For You

Apart from playing a very important role in digestion, assimilation, absorption and elimination of food, the gut or the second brain is also the powerhouse of emotions. Yes, that’s right how we feel is determined a lot in our gut.

The gut is in direct and constant dialogue with the brain. There is a brain-gut axis from where the gut sends signals to the brain. According to experts, the gut affects our behaviour every minute of our day and night from the day of our birth.

Gut Is A Gateway To Happiness

If your gut is not functioning well, you can’t be happy. Modern day science believes gut bears a direct impact on our moods and social behaviour.

 The main reason is that 90 % of the happy chemical, serotonin is produced in the gut, according to research. Serotonin regulates moods, social behaviour, appetite, sleep wake cycle. This simply means the gut plays a big role in how much pleasure or happiness we derive from food, relationships, desire for sex, sound physical and mental health and good sleep. We cannot be in a good mood and be at our best in relationships with a dysfunctional gut.

Happiness Emanates From Gut Has Another Proof !

50 % of another happy chemical dopamine is also produced in the GI or the gastrointestinal tract. Dopamine determines how we feel pleasure. It’s like being rewarded. For example, when you would do intense workout, it is that feeling of doing well for your body that indicates dopamine. Fondness for certain kind of foods, taking addictive drugs, and engaging in video games are just few things to understand how dopamine spikes up in the body.

Unhealthy Gut Can Cause Anxiety And Depression

Gut has a direct bearing on not only the physical health but the mental health too. Earlier it was thought that stress in the brain leads to stomach issues like constipation, gas and bowel irritation but now it’s the other way round too.

To put it simply, if your digestion is not sound it can affect your mental health. Research says issues of irritable bowel syndrome like constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence also trigger mood changes like anxiety, felling low and depression in severe cases among patients.

Research has found that there could be a link between depression and lack of serotonin. This is the reason, why anti-depressants, meant to regulate mood, have a side effect on bowel syndrome according to the scientists.

Ayurveda On Gut

 6000 years old Indian life science of Ayurveda has always stressed emphasis on gut health. Its often said in India, stomach is the root of all issues. It has a lot to do with how one’s gut functions.

In ayurveda, gut is referred to as the kostha which means the big channel through which life enters. It is also the channel through which energy enters our body. Gut health is determined by the fire in your belly literally or the agni which is also called the digestive fire inside the gastrointestinal tract. Renowned Ayurveda expert Dr Isaac Mathai in an interview said “ Ayurveda focuses on gut cleansing or koshta shuddhi while talking of any illness”. There is ama or toxins generated by undigested food in the stomach. If this lies for long inside the gut, toxins start breeding diseases inside the gut.

What To Do To Have A Happy Gut

There are billions of bacteria inside the human gut. Among these there are good bacteria and there are bad bacteria. Higher the population of the good bacteria inside, better the gut and better the digestion and metabolism inside the body.

  • Consume probiotics and fermented foods: The fermented foods have good bacteria naturally which are useful to the gut. Probiotics are loaded with billions of good bacteria which nourish the gut and add diversity in the pool of bacteria.
  • Reduce stress in your life: High levels of stress directly impact gut health. The more stressed you are, higher the chances of your metabolism going haywire.
  • Eat more fibre: Fibrous foods like whole grains, bananas, legumes and beans help increase the density of good gut bacteria. A 2017 study found that the importance of fibre is directly associated with the importance of our gut microbes. The more microbes we have in our intestines, the thicker the mucus wall in the intestines and the better the barrier between our body and diseases.
  • Drink more water: Keeping yourself hydrated flush out toxins from the gastrointestinal tract. However drinking chilled water harms the GI tract as it extinguishes the digestive fire or agni inside the belly.
  • Control your sugar: Refined sugar does no good to the body. Experts suggest sugar is inflammatory to the system, it may also lead to growth of yeast that may imbalance the delicate gut microbes.
  • Stay away from overuse of antibiotics and painkillers: Antibiotics can damage the gut lining by harming the good bacteria inside so its advisable to take minimum dose of antibiotics and painkillers.
  • Exercise daily: 30 mins of daily exercise keeps the metabolism healthy. The more you move the more the gut healthy the gut is, the better the immune system is.
  • Sleep well:  Having good sleep aids digestion. The rest and digest function of the body is at its best when we are sleeping.  Poor sleep causes chemical events in the body that can create digestive problems.
  • Eat variety of fresh, local and seasonal foods: Stale food does no good to the body in terms of nutrient power. Cooking and eating fresh is the cornerstone of healthy eating. Watch what are you eating if has a good variety of fresh fruits, nuts and roughage. It shall have variety of grains and vegetables to help add to the diversity of bacteria in the gut
  • Limit alcohol and processed foods: Alcohol kills the good bacteria in the gut. Chronic drinking can promote the population of harmful bacteria while reducing the density of helpful bacteria. This m ay also lead to toxins entering the bloodstream.

70% Of Our Immune System Lies In Our Gut

It is believed that 70% of our immune system lies in our gut. In the times when world is gripped by a pandemic, it is all the more necessary to boost up your immune system against viruses and other diseases. Focusing on gut health, is one of the key issues that should be central to raising one’s fitness.

Gut has phenomenal wisdom that only does the complex task of digestion, absorption and elimination of food, but it is also radiating its influence on the overall physical and mental well-being of the human body. Who knows strengthening one’s gut may make that gut feeling or the sixth sense that aids us, stronger? As they say the gut is always right.

I would love to hear back from you through your comments and feedback. I hope this blog has been able to impress upon you the importance of gut health. Keep reading Letsfigureoutlife.com for enriching content.