Now, we don’t mean to be coy (well, maybe a little), but this is a subject we find incredibly fascinating and exciting ☺
You’ve probably heard by now that scientists are referring to our digestive system as the SECOND BRAIN. It has over one hundred million brain cells, or neurons! What’s even crazier is that researchers have observed that the greater flow of neural traffic actually happens from the gut to the brain, not vice versa. What?! That’s nuts! The implications of this are HUGE. Instead of the head sending signals to the gut, your digestive system is sending signals to your brain, telling it how to deal with the food you eat. So basically, Command Central is your belly…does that make you nervous?
So what affects the stomach will greatly affect the brain, and vice versa…some scientists even refer to them as one entity often called the “brain-gut axis”. So pay attention to your gut! When you get those feelings of “butterflies” in your stomach, it’s because your brain is sending out signals to release stress hormones and the great chemical surge in your body translates into a fluttery stomach. Conversely, if your “gut brain” isn’t happy, it will affect your emotions and complete state of mind…Ahhhhh!!
The saying “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT” is becoming more relevant by the minute, isn’t it?! It’s awesome when you think about it though. This means we can actually affect our moods and emotions by putting good food in our bodies. In a world where we often feel so out of control and at the mercy of our environment, it’s empowering to think that we are the ones who have a lot of control, just by paying attention to good nutrition ☺
Frank Lipman, M.D., author of the book Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again, says it’s easy to get your GI system back in balance. He has a gut-friendly 4R plan: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair—it involves getting rid of the junk food and replacing it with microflora-nourishing foods!
Some examples of microflora-nourishing foods are:
DID YOU KNOW?
FIBER DOES AN AMAZING JOB OF NOURISHING MICROFLORA!! And yup…GORP bars are packed with 6 grams of gut-friendly fiber ☺
THE ROLE OF FIBER
Check out all the ways fiber rocks your world. Aside from nourishing microflora in your “second brain”, it also helps with:
Soluble fiber found in oats, flaxseed, and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering "bad" cholesterol levels.
A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (also known as Diverticular disease). ACK! Thanks, fiber.
Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which will help people with diabetes with blood sugar levels.
An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attacks. Research has shown that eating a high-fiber diet can reduce your risk of heart disease by a whopping 40 percent! Wow – thanks, oats!
Since fiber can help regulate blood sugar, fiber intake can decrease the chance of insulin spikes because it regulates blood sugar levels, which in turn reduces your chance of developing both gallstones and kidney stones.
Some types of fiber can bind onto yeast and fungus, moving them through your digestive system instead of allowing them to be excreted through the skin, causing breakouts and rashes. Fiber acts like a broom “sweeping” the colon walls and preventing pathogens from being reabsorbed by the liver, which can create all kinds of skin problems.
Foods rich in insoluble fiber add bulk without calories and this helps to increase your sense of fullness. These foods also need more chewing time, which gives your body time to signal that it’s no longer hungry, so you're less likely to overindulge!
PLUS, fiber can help reduce bloating and constipation – two things that definitely contribute to NOT feeling like you can take on the world!
So yeah, INTESTINAL HEALTH IS HOT! You heard it here first!