Did you know that there is a real “gut-brain connection.” The gut has actually been called the second brain because of this connection. When you’re feeling any intense emotions such as anger, anxiety, or sadness, it can affect your gut. But this connection is two-way as well, your gut health can affect how you feel.
Think about how you feel when something goes wrong, and you get that pit in your stomach, or when you get nervous and your stomach feels like it’s fluttering. These are examples of how this connection works. In fact, you may notice you have more gastrointestinal issues when you’re stressed, because of this link. Knowing this, it’s not surprising that “digestive diseases affect an estimated 60 to 70 million people.” The way this works is through “hundreds of millions of neurons connecting the brain to the enteric nervous system, the part of the nervous system that is tasked with controlling the gastrointestinal system.” You can learn more about this connection by reading this excerpt from ‘Gut Feelings – the “Second Brain” in Our Gastrointestinal System.’
This connection is one of the reasons it’s so important to keep our gut healthy and happy! Because it really can affect how you feel.
There are plenty of foods that can help, including probiotics (healthy bacteria):
- Kefir: Dairy Kefir is 99% lactose-free. It’s basically like yogurt you can drink. There’s also a dairy-free option that is high in good bacteria as well. It’s coconut kefir, made from coconut milk or coconut water.
- Yogurt: This is probably the most well-known choice for probiotics. Just make sure that you look for “live active cultures,” when choosing your selection. Also, keep in mind, it’s best to eat plain or a low sugar option, since bad bacteria like to feed on sugar. They also make a dairy-free option using cultured soy milk.
- Kombucha: This drink is familiar in taste to vinegar, however it’s naturally carbonated. The drink is made from a scoby, which is what provides the beverage with good bacteria and yeast. It’s often flavored with other things like fruit juice to give it a more palatable taste.
- Sourdough bread: Did you know? This bread is “made with a lactic acid starter.” This gives the bread good bacteria.
- Miso Paste: Aged, fermented soybeans are used for making miso paste (used in miso soup). While, soy has had a bad rep, fermented soy is said to be better for you, plus it has good bacteria.
- Tempeh: This is another fermented soybean option. It’s the “nuttier, tangier cousin of tofu.”
- Kimchi: This is a Korean side dish. It’s “salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage and Korean radishes.” There are other seasonings added as well.
Other foods can also support a healthy digestive system. Learn more by reading “7 Foods to Heal Your Gut” from Cleaning Eating.
It’s important to maintain a healthy gut to keep everything running smoothly and to help you feel better overall. As you can see, there is a real connection, and yes, you could say your gut has feelings.