Most of us have heard people say ‘trust your gut’ or ‘what does your gut tell you to do?’ when making an important decision at some point in our lives. If you are interested in the hidden meaning to these sayings, read on!

Our gut has a surprising amount of power over our daily lives. If you were to analyse all the cells in your body, you would discover that most are bacteria, not ones that your body produced. Not only this, but your gut and brain are the only organs with their own nervous system. With this in mind, it makes sense that the gut is able to control so much of how we behave, think, and feel. Have you ever noticed that when you eat lots of fibre and good bacteria your mood changes and you’re able to think more clearly? Well, there is a reason for this: a highway connecting the gut and the brain, but instead of bitumen it is comprised of a network of neurons. Imagining this helps to explain why a stressed out mind may result in a drop in the pit of your stomach. It also explains how smelling food initiates hunger in the brain and sends a signal to the stomach to rumble, demanding that you eat.

The fact that the gut and the brain are connected by a highway means that is bidirectional – the brain influences the gut and the gut influences the brain. For example, when you feel stressed or anxious the brain releases cortisol, a stress hormone. This cortisol can weaken gut lining integrity, resulting in gaps. This lining is an important barrier to prevent infections and assist the immune system. Another product of stress is poor nutrient absorption and a decreased metabolism due to reduced blood flow to the gut. Stress can also change the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, leading to issues such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and bloating. Yikes! I bet you’re thinking about taking up meditation or yoga now.

Likewise, poor gut health can cause stress and anxiety because the bacteria in the gut produce neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, as the name suggests, transmit information between neurons. Remember that these neurons make up the highway that joins the gut and the brain, so these signals get sent to the brain. You have probably heard about people with anxiety having a ‘chemical imbalance in the brain’. Well, this is because of certain types of neurotransmitters. Not all neurotransmitters are bad, but some do contribute to anxiety and depression. Poor gut health can cause a rise in these types of neurotransmitters creating a recipe for some serious mood swings!

The good news is, you might be able to avoid these issues by making sure you eat lots of probiotics and fibre (tip: the Queen Garnet is a natural source of fibre). Healthy gut = healthy brain!