Most people go through each day without giving their gastrointestinal system, often called the gut, much thought at all. However, if they knew that this part of the body had so much power over their physical, emotional and mental health and well-being, they may pay more attention. If you have yet to get familiar with your gut, consider these facts you may find surprising as well as methods for boosting a healthy GI tract.
It Holds Majority of Immune System
Did you know that 80 percent of the body's immune system is found within your gastrointestinal tract? As Well + Good explained, the root cause of catching a cold can be traced back to digestion. Though it may be surprising, the answer to boosting your immunity begins by taking care of your digestive system and keeping bacteria levels in the gut healthy.
Author and certified nutritional consultant Brenda Watson explained to the source that when your gut is healthy, it informs the immune system, which translates to you feeling nourished, energized and relatively good overall. On the other hand however, when the microbes in your gut are unable to rid the body of toxins and pathogens, it signals a warning to the immune system – which can leave you feeling under the weather.
It's Called "The Second Brain"
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the common phrase about going with your gut instinct may have more of a literal meaning that one may think. Researchers have observed a connection between gastrointestinal complications and conditions such as depression and anxiety, leading them to believe that the gut within our digestive system is actually acting as a second brain. This means that there is much more to mental health and digestion than is commonly thought.
"The gut is considered your second brain."
Though it cannot think for itself, this second brain interacts and exchanges information with the brain in our heads on a regular basis, Dr. Jay Pasricha, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology and one of the leading researchers on the concept, explained.
As our Hallelujah Diet health experts have previously reported, your gut has a big impact on how you're feeling emotionally. In fact, it provides the body with more than 95 percent of its serotonin – a chemical known to improve moods. A number of hormones are managed from the second brain as well.
It Can Influence Fat Storage
Your gut plays a role in nearly all areas of your health, which is why it may not be all that surprising to learn it can also impact your weight – though perhaps not in the way you may think. According to Nutritious Life, the GI tract needs to manage a healthy balance of both good and bad bacteria at all times. When the bad bacteria starts to overpower the good, it can cause excess fat to be stored. This can be extremely frustrating for those trying yet unable to understand why they can't shake the last few pounds.
It Loves Probiotics
As our health experts explained, most regularly functioning guts hold close to 3 1/2 pounds of bacteria at one time. Most Americans, especially those following the Standard American Diet, do not get enough probiotics on a regular basis. One of the best ways to include more probiotics into your diet is with fermented foods such as tempeh, sauerkraut and kefir. As Nutritious Life explained, you may also consider adding prebiotics to your diet. Non-digestible or partially digestible fibers that fuel the good bacteria, prebiotics can be found in bananas, garlic and sunchokes.
When you take care of your gut, you take care of your entire health.