A healthy brain requires a healthy body. Without a strong body to support the tremendous demands on our brains every day, we will struggle. There are a number of key ingredients necessary for high energy, cognitive quickness, and a vibrant, resilient physiology. These include a nutritious diet, proper hydration, sleep and rest, and regular exercise to make up for any deficits brought on by aging, toxins, and stress.


Brain Matters

The Second Brain—The Gut Connection


It’s been nearly 20 years since Michael Gershon, chairman of the department of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia University, coined the term “the second brain” to describe the vast network of neurons (estimated at 500 million) that lines our guts and is responsible not just for digestion, but also for our ability to resist certain illnessess and build energy. This gut brain is also intimately linked to our emotional wellbeing.


Around 9 meters long, the gut brain—also called the enteric nervous system—stretches from our esophagus to our anus, and it works both independently, as well as in conjunction with the brain in our heads. Scientists were shocked to discover that about 90% of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. And these messages do appear to affect our mood. In fact, stimulation of the vagus has been shown to help uplift those in low spirits. It is perhaps no coincidence that we have long used emotionally-laden terms like “gut instinct” and “gutless wonder” and “gut reaction” to describe the important role the gut plays in warning us of an impending threat, in bucking ourselves up for a challenging endeavor, or in helping us to assess a person or situation correctly.  


Amazingly, our gut brain uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain in our heads. In fact, 95% of the body’s serotonin (a mood balancer) is found in the bowels. 


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