When you make a call on a decision – or choose to “go with your gut” – it’s likely you’re getting signals from your second brain – the one that’s hidden in the digestive system.
The gut does more than just break down food, absorb nutrients and expel waste. It’s a mass of neural tissues and important neurotransmitters, responsible for everything from determining mental health, immunity, weight gain, mood and so much more.
Some 80 per cent of the traffic along the vagus nerve is sensory information sent up to the brain by the body, rather than vice versa and the humble gut has the highest concentration of mood-altering transmitters than anywhere else in the body. If you are not feeling like your energetic-self, it might be good to start looking how your gut is functioning.
The Ayurvedic concept of ‘agni’ (digestive fire) impacts your overall well-being – it’s responsible for the digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food and sensations into energy. It’s one of the most important factors when it comes to Ayurveda. A balanced agni is key to living a healthy and fulfilling life. An unstable agni is the root of all disease. It’s really that simple. If you want to read more about agni, check out another blog post I’ve written on the topic.
If your gut isn’t functioning properly you won’t be operating at your peak – not by a long shot. It’s not more time in the day, stronger willpower or more sleep that will do the trick either. To increase happiness, health and success, what you need is a healthy gut.
Healthy gut = healthy body
Let’s look at weight gain as an example of how this works. When you bring the enteric nervous system (or the brain in your gut) in line, it controls your food choices, it will make the right decisions. For example it will override sweet or high-carb food addictions initiated by bacteria in your gut. By fixing the digestive system, cultivating a gut environment that allows good bacteria to flourish, improving nutrient absorption and reversing the brain’s neuro-adaptation to toxic or unhealthy foods, the enteric nervous system can heal and start functioning how it should.
As your gut becomes more intelligent, its communication with your brain becomes stronger and clearer. Then your conscious and unconscious mind will begin to work together and remember, and intuitively know, which foods are good for you – and which aren’t. Meanwhile the enteric nervous system begins to reassert its control and your body will respond appropriately when you fuel it with the wrong things. You might feel tired after a meal, bloated or even sick as your body will be rejecting the foods that aren’t beneficial for optimal functioning.
If the gut isn’t working properly, this doesn’t only mean poor nutrient absorption, weight gain and a weakened immunity, it affects everything from sleep patterns and mood, to the ability to shut off and make smart decisions.
When things are working right
A new study published in the journal PLOS Biology backed up what has been known in Ayurveda for thousands of years – it shows how our gut bacteria communicates with our brains to change our food choices.
Specifically, the researchers from Monash University and Champalimaud Centre in Portugal found that when lacking in certain nutrients, animals would later choose foods high in those nutrients. They also found that the right balance of bacteria in their gut could tide them over when they were deficient, suppressing those cravings.
Many of our clients say that once we detox their gut they become so much clearer and smarter.
As I tell many of my clients, digestive problems arise when we don’t listen to how our body. Eating too much, or eating the foods that aren’t suited to your body type, will dampen your digestive fire. You want to be doing the opposite. You can also be eating a great diet but if you are eating under stress and if it is not suited to your body type, your gut will struggle to be smart. Next we’ll be offering you a whole of practical tips to help improve gut health.
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