Ever heard the saying: “I have a gut feeling that……”
Gut feelings get all the press, but your gut may be more of a thinker than you know. These powerful connections are part an emerging field of science called neurogastroenterology designed to study the gut-brain link. For the rest of the month of May, we will be discussing how your gut functions and how it can affect your daily well being.
HERE ARE 10 FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOUR GUT.
- The Gut Does Not Need The Brain’s Input.
It doesn’t wait for your brain’s impulses to do the important work of digestion, because it doesn’t need to—it acts as its own “brain.”
- There Are More Than 100 Million Brain Cells In Your Gut.
There are millions of neurons in its lengthy coils (9 meters of intestines, from esophagus to anus). That’s more neurons than are found in the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.
- Your Gut Has its Own Nervous System.
The enteric nervous system—the controlling mechanism of digestion and elimination—is the overlord of your gut, and functions all on its own.
- There is an Information Highway From Your Gut To Your Brain.
There’s one big visceral nerve embedded in your gut—the vagus nerve. Research has revealed that up to 90 percent of its fibres carry information from the gut to the brain, rather than the other way around. In other words, the brain interprets gut signals as emotions. You really should trust your GUT FEELING.
- Most Of Your Serotonin Is In Your Gut.
Some 95 percent of your body’s serotonin, that marvelous mood molecule that antidepressant drugs like Prozac keep in your body, can be found in the gut. So that is why diet, medications, and antibiotics can wreak havoc on one’s mood.
- A Healthy Gut May Protect Your Bones.
In a study of the serotonin-gut relationship, scientists discovered an unexpected link between the gut and the bones. Inhibiting the gut’s release of serotonin counteracted the bone-density reduction of osteoporosis in mice. This research is going into studies on new osteoporosis-fighting drugs.
- Research Shows Links Between Autism And Having Fewer Strains Of Gut Bacteria.
In as many as nine out of 10 cases, autistic people have common gut imbalances such as leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and fewer strains of “good” bacteria. Research is looking at possible treatments of some of the behavioral disorders of autism by balancing microbes in the guts, though many warn that such treatments can’t produce a “cure” for autism.
- Food Really Does Affect Your Mood.
Different foods, when introduced to the gut via feeding tubes, have been shown to change a person’s moods without the person’s awareness of what they were “eating.” Fat, for instance, increased feelings of happiness and pleasure (no surprise there) because appeared to trigger the release of dopamine—the brain’s natural opiate. Carbohydrate consumption stimulated the release of serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter.
- Your Gut Is Your Best Friend In Cold And Flu Season.
Not only does your gut hold brain cells, it also houses the bulk of your immune cells—70 percent—in the form of gut associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT, which plays a huge part in killing and expelling pathogens. GALT and your gut microbiome—the trillions of bacteria that live, like an immense microbial universe, in your gut—work hard to help you get over what ails you. That’s all the more reason to be careful with the use of antibiotics, which wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad.
- Your Gut Can Become Addicted To Opiates.
Inside your gut are opiate receptors, which are also found in the brain. The gut is just as susceptible to addiction as the brain and may contribute to the intense difficulty some addicts have trying to kick the habit.