We’ve all heard the term “Go with your Gut Instinct”, and we have all experienced that familiar feeling of “Butterflies” in our stomachs. But did you know that these underlying sensations can be attributed to an often- overlooked network of neurons? You read right! Brain cells embedded in the wall of our gut (about 9 metres of them), stretching from esophagus to the anus and containing more neurons that the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.
Recent research suggests that not only are these cells intimately involved in your daily digestion (breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and expelling waste), they are also highly connected to your emotional state. A “big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut”, Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioural sciences at UCLA says.
In fact, 95% of the body’s serotonin (our “happy hormone”) is found in the bowels.
And a study published June 2012 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, has shown that, “brain levels of serotonin are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life”; in other words, this research shows that normal adult brain function depends on the presence of gut microbes during development. This is just one reason why we should be conscious of ensuring we have proper microbial flora- or probiotics. Probiotics are also important for digestive health, urinary health, allergies, and the immune system to mention a few!