How to Improve Your Second Brain: Your Gut
Your stomach is a hub of intelligence, holding the equivalence to a small pet’s brain. It’s host to 200 million neurons and hundreds of billions of bacteria that influence our personalities.
Your brain and stomach are in constant conversation. They both use the same neurotransmitters, it’s the language that nerve cells speak.
In both IBS and IBD, the mind and body are connected; however, it’s unclear which symptom started first. Did the mind affect the body or did the body affect the mind? Either way, we know they are intertwined and that we have to heal the ‘whole’ person in order to improve the condition of any ailment.
HOW YOUR DIGESTION AFFECTS YOUR WHOLE BODY
All health starts in the gut! Our digestive tract contains most of our immune system and 90% of our serotonin (the feel good chemical). These are just some of the many reasons why maintaining a healthy digestive tract is so important for the health of our entire body. Here are a few tips to help keep your body – and your digestion – running smoothly:
CHEW YOUR FOOD
Digestion starts in the mouth. The act of chewing not only breaks down our food into smaller particles to swallow, but it secretes saliva, coating the food with enzymes that begin to digest fats and starches right in your mouth.
EAT YOUR MEALS STRESS-FREE
The state of mind that you are in when eating will affect your digestion. Eat meals at the table with loved ones. Turn off the TV. Put away your phone.
DECREASE DRINKS AT MEAL TIME
Drinking too much with meals will decrease the amount of stomach acid which is needed for proper breakdown of food and nutrients. In fact, drinking too much during a meal will actually shut down the digestive process. Take small sips of water at room temperature if thirsty.
The 5 Colors of Phytonutrients: Eat the Rainbow!
Wellness experts are always telling us that we need to eat more colorful foods. The reason behind this is that these pretty fruits and veggies are actually nutritional powerhouses, chock full of the good stuff: phytonutrients.
You may have heard this word being thrown around before, but here’s what it actually means. Broken down, “phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. The plain-English explanation is that plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals. These are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals, and they’re what make fruits and veggies worth eating, as they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly. The roles phytonutrients play range; they can act as antioxidants, immune system-boosters, lower risk of bone loss, eye health, lower risk of cancers, inflammation-reducers, asthma risk-reducer, coronary heart disease prevention, and overall lifespan-extenders. Some of the phytonutrients Good Guys that do all this are resveratrol, catechins, hesperidin, flavonols, ellagic acid, lutein and zeaxanthin, lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
You don’t have to just eat fruits and veggies to gain the phytonutrient benefits, either. A lot of plant-based foods have them too, such as:
- Whole grains
- Wine (now, don’t go crazy on this one!)