In a previous blog ‘Improving my health‘ my biggest insight was that I didn’t know my body and it’s functioning at all, let alone the impact of my diet on my health. Due to this insight I decided to start taking full responsibility again for my health. Which meant two things; 1) change my diet and 2) educate myself more how to change it. What elements did I need to (re)consider? So I started reading books. And one book turned out to be a real game changer for me personally. Gulia Enders pictures in her book ‘Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ’ (in Dutch ‘De mooie voedselmachine’), our gut as second brain.
Gut as second brain
And apparently she wasn’t the only one recognizing the importance of this organ (microbiome) on our health. On Facebook I found several articles on this topic and I kept on reading more articles and books. This is extremely fascinating information and a completely new area of scientific research. There’s an entire ecosystem of bacteria and a vast neural network operating in our guts. This ecosystem is our second brain, and comprises some 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord. This is not a thinking brain—it does not reason, write poetry, or solve multi-linear regressions—but mounting evidence suggests that your gut’s health strongly influences your mood. If you are interested you can check out this video I found on Youtube from AsapScience for more information about the second brain and its connection to everything from food cravings to autistic traits.
So, our gut bacteria produce hormones and neurotransmitters that our bodies require for emotional stability and cognitive function. They also adjust the immune system, switch genes on and off, and send messages to the brain via the vagus nerve. One of the articles I have read ‘Microbiome: The Body’s Great Conductor‘ is even quoting the renowned ancient physician Hippocrates. As this approach connects to an old idea about health.