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Your Second Brain

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Our Second Brain

Our Second Brain

Do you remember having to stand up in front of class when you were younger and getting all those butterflies in your stomach? Or getting ready for a sporting event, even when you’ve prepared for months, waiting for the starting whistle and you get that jittery feeling deep in your gut?

Well, theres a network of neurons in our gut that is so extensive some scientists have nicknamed it our second brain.

The second brain, which can operate independently of the brain, contains more neurons than the spinal cord! This large system of neurons enables us to ‘feel’ the inner world of our gut and its contents.

Nearly every chemical that controls the brain is also located in the stomach region including hormones and neurotransmitters such as: more than 90% of the body’s serotonin (the Happiness neurotransmitter) and 50% of the body’s Dopamine (the Reward neurotransmitter).

The gut is probably responsible for more than just the butterflies in our stomach when we experience excitement, fear and stress says Dr. Gershon, Chairman of Columbia University Medical Center.

Just think about what you put in your stomach on any given week. For an average person, they’re ingesting coffee, sweets, genetically modified organisms, alcohol (which is actually a poison), healthy calories, plus a lot of things we don’t see like bacteria.

From our guts perspective, eating is laced with danger. In severe cases, our second brain triggers diarrhea or alerts the brain to initiate vomiting.upset tummy

So the gut does much more than just handle digestion or cause the occasional nervous feeling. Doctors are starting to realize that this second brain partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.

Leading scientists believe that the second brain could have ties to Obesity, Diabetes, Autism, Chronic Depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and may also have an effect on Ulcerative Colitis and Krohn’s Disease.

This is the reason to eat and drink cleanly. Take care of your gut and it will take care of you. Watch what you put in your body. Your body was designed to deal with harsh environments, occasionally. Help out your “second brain” and it will help you.healthy eating

And remember:

In order to achieve something you’ve never done before, you must be willing to become somebody you’ve never been before

Healthy Gut = Healthy Brain?

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As I was driving to work last Friday in the dark and freezing hour of 5 am, I flipped on NPR and listened to my ‘stories’. An intriguing discussion was taking place, one which has been growing in popularity and scientific research: the importance of gut bacteria!

Yes, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but there is bacteria in your gut. A lot.disguted emoticonThere is both good and bad bacteria, and in order to maintain good health, you need to make sure there is a lot more good than bad.

In the discussion, a Dr. Mayer hinted that the mixture of bacteria in our gut may help determine what kinds of brain we have, how its wired, and how the brain is developed. Crazy, I know.

But wait, there’s more!

In another study in this discussion, researchers replaced the gut bacteria of anxious mice with that of fearless mice. “The mice became less anxious, more gregarious,” says Dr. Stephen Collins of McMaster University.

Why is this important? Because the health of our gut, which many of us take for granted, could be a possible explanation for our behavior, our ability to learn, and our mood.

gut health

Luckily, there are ways to clean out your gut’s bacteria and restore it with healthy bacteria. And there are ways to maintain the health of your gut too (Probiotics). I’ll be leading these discussions in future posts.

For now, eat clean and stay healthy.

And remember:

In order to achieve something you’ve never done before, you must be willing to become somebody you’ve never been before