Your Second Brain
Listen to your gut
We’re all familiar with phrases like ‘gut instinct’ and ‘feeling gutted’, they’ve been part of our vocabulary for hundreds of years now. They describe a sensation that we can now explain through science – the direct physical connection and continuous communication between our gut and our brain.
The gut-brain axis
This scientifically proven link between the gut and the brain is known as the gut-brain axis. Your brain talks to all the organs in your body, including your gut, using a network of nerves that extend right throughout your body. But here’s the thing: the gut is the only organ in the body that talks back and also has its own nervous system – the enteric nervous system. This lets it perform and control some actions independently such as digesting the food we eat, without instruction from the brain. It’s why the gut is known as the host of the second brain – in fact it even has 200-600 million neurons of its own.
While the gut can do lots of things itself, it’s always in close connection with the brain. Unlike other organs, these two ‘communicate’ on a regular basis. One way they communicate is through chemicals called neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters can influence our emotions and are often referred to as the ‘feel good’ hormones. Many of these neurotransmitters are also produced by bacteria that live in the gut. In fact, 90% of the serotonin in our body is produced in the gut!
The gut-brain axis mechanism is still not fully understood, but scientists all around the world are continuing their research into the close relationship between the gut and the brain, or as it’s now called – the gut-brain axis.