“All disease begins in the gut.”

Hippocrates

Two very important factors that help lead to optimal brain functioning and other bodily functions are:

  1. A balance of energy expenditure and consumption.
  2. A high quality of energy consumption.

In other words, what we eat and how much we eat in relation to what the energy we spend drastically impact the quality of our brain functioning.

The functioning of our brain influences every single aspect of our moment to moment experience of life.

Food DIRECTLY affects how you feel

Serotonin is a chemical that our nerve cells produce, sending signals between the nerve cells. Our serotonin levels impact basically every part of our experience by regulating our mood, and physical sense of well-being (or lack thereof).

“What is serotonin’s job as a neurotransmitter? It regulates signal intensity. Think of it like a volume control on a stereo: serotonin changes how efficiently neurons communicate with each other, making other signals louder or softer. Most often, it accompanies other transmitters, changing a neuron’s response to that particular signal. Because of this, its used by all kinds of nerve cells all over the body, and serotonin levels can dramatically alter our behavior. Levels too high can lead to sedation, whereas low levels are associated with debilitating psychiatric conditions.”

Almost all of the serotonin (95%) we produce is manufactured in our gastrointestinal tract.

Serotonin plays a big role in our digestive process by improving the functioning of our digestive muscles by creating the proper physiological response to overeating, under eating, eating bad foods, etc.

Normal serotonin levels regulate our emotions in a positive way – allowing us to feel less anxious, regularly happy and emotionally stable.

For the same reason that exercise makes you happy by releasing serotonin, gut health keeps you happy with proper serotonin levels.

The fact that it’s subtler than the ‘high’ you get from exercising doesn’t allow it to have quite the same impression on us, but it’s eating foods that ensure gut health is critically important to our overall well being.

The Importance of Keeping Our “Second Brain” Healthy

“The health of your gastrointestinal system is extremely important to your overall well-being. Largely responsible for the critical functions of the body’s digestive and immune systems, beneficial bacteria in your digestive system have the capability of affecting your body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, vitamin production, immune response, and ability to eliminate toxins, not to mention your overall mental health.”

How healthy your gastrointestinal system is largely has to do with how much bacteria you have in your digestive tract, and the quality of that bacteria.

Research has shown that when the body has to deal with foods that it is sensitive to because they’re overly processed or are otherwise harmful, the gut gets irritated and the ENS - Entric Nervous System (nerve cells along the gastrointestinal tracts) send signals to the Central Nervous System, leading to changed moods and an overall sense that something isn’t right.

Many scientists are now calling our guts our second brains because of how directly interlinked our gut health is with our brain health and functioning.

For our brains to function optimally and have a positive effect on our experience, we have to get our guts on our side – to work for us rather than against us.

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Getting Your Gut On Your Side

So how do we ensure that there is a proper balance of bacteria in our system?

  1. We make the body’s job as easy as possible, limiting our intake of that we show a sensitivity to so that digestion is a fluid process.

  2. We actively eat foods that are rich in probiotics.

Finding out what foods we’re sensitive to is a largely a personal endeavor, but it requires really beginning to pay attention to how different foods affect you.

Some of the foods to watch out for because they make digestion difficult are:

  • Dairy
  • Gluten (30% of the U.S. population has a sensitivity to gluten)
  • Genetically modified soy
  • Meats that have been treated with antibiotics (antibiotics kill the bacteria in our stomach – good or bad)
  • Artificial sweeteners

Foods to try and include in your diet are:

  • Nuts and other healthy fats
  • Carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index
  • Fermented foods rich in probiotics
  • Leafy greens
  • Foods high in fiber like legumes and berries

The direction to take your diet in to meet the needs of your gut may seem vague, but it is all relatively simple.

This article isn't meant to give you directions but rather increase your awareness of the importance of a healthy gut.

Staying away from regularly eating processed foods and drinks is always important to our health.

Eating fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats and fibers is always important to our health.

Our job is to be very attentive to how we feel after we eat – our reactions to food (physical AND emotional) give us all the information we need about what will lead to health and what won’t.

The Fat Loss & Nutrition Sidekick Journal

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