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Why they call it the second brain 🧠 and 6 surprising facts about it

Why they call it the second brain and 6 surprising facts about it

Surely the intestine was not the first option you considered but that's how it is, and that's why for a few years now many have nicknamed it "the second brain." That "independent" brain in our gut and its complex microbial community influence our overall well-being.

So doctors are increasingly clear that the function of our digestive system goes far beyond simply processing the food we eat. What's more, doctors are investigating whether it could be used to treat mental illnesses or the immune system.

The BBC spoke to Dr Megan Rossi, an Australian gut health specialist, to explore why we should pay more attention to our bellies. Here are some surprising facts about our "second brain":

1. An autonomic nervous system

"Unlike any other organ in our body, our intestine can function on its own. It has its own autonomy to make decisions, it does not need the brain to tell it what to do," explains Dr. Rossi.

What governs the intestine is the enteric nervous system (ENS), which is a "branch" of the autonomic nervous system, responsible for directly controlling the digestive system. That nervous system extends through the tissue that lines the stomach and digestive system, and has its own neural circuits.

Although it functions independently of the Central Nervous System (CNS), it communicates with it through the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

2. 70% of the cells of our immune system live in the intestine

According to Rossi, this makes the health of our intestine key to our immunity to diseases. The specialist says that the most recent research suggests that if you have intestinal problems, you are more likely to be more vulnerable to common diseases such as the flu, for example.

3. 50% of feces are bacteria

It's not just food scraps: about half of our feces are bacteria. Many of these bacteria are good, which is why stool transplants can be a vital form of treatment for some patients with a weakened gut microbiome. How a transplant of another person's feces into the intestine could save your life

On the other hand, speaking of feces, the BBC asked Rossi how often it is normal to go to the bathroom. The specialist answered that according to research, it is considered normal to defecate from 3 times a day to 3 times a week.

4. The more diversified the diet, the more diverse the microbiome

Trillions of microbes live in our intestines, which like different foods. These microbes are key to digestion because their activity allows our body to absorb certain nutrients from food.

"I like to say that microbes are like our little internal pets, so you want to take care of and nourish them," says the specialist. People who always eat the same thing have a poorer gut microbiome than those who follow a diversified diet.

Different microbes thrive on different foods and that is why the gut microbiome improves with a diverse diet. A rich and varied microbiome is associated with greater intestinal health, according to Rossi, and consequently with greater general well-being. On the other hand, people who always eat the same thing have a poorer microbiome.

5. Your gut is linked to your stress levels and your mood.

If you have gut problems, according to Rossi, "one key thing you need to do is look at how much stress you have."

"In my clinical practice I always tell patients to do 15 or 20 minutes a day of meditation. After doing it daily for four weeks, and making it a habit, I see that with that alone the symptoms improve." So "de-stressing is very, very important," says the specialist. It is also interesting to think that the majority of the body's serotonin, it is estimated that around 80% or 90%, is found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects many bodily functions, such as intestinal peristalsis. It is also associated with many psychiatric disorders. Your concentration can be reduced by stress and influences mood, anxiety and happiness.

Several studies with humans and animals have shown evidence of differences in the intestinal microbiome of patients with mental disorders such as depression. That's why an emerging area of ​​psychiatric research has to do with the prescription of "psychobiotics": essentially a probiotic cocktail of healthy bacteria, to improve mental health. How bacteria are changing your mood all the time.

6. If you are afraid of a food, you will feel that it hurts you.

It's true that some intestines are more sensitive than others, but according to Dr. Megan Rossi, there is surprising recent research that suggests that if you are afraid of a particular food and eat it, you can physically develop symptoms. "In the clinic I constantly see how beliefs can trigger intestinal problems."

There are many people who believe, sometimes because of a fad, that gluten or lactose is going to harm them, without actually having an allergy or intolerance. The unjustified fad of the gluten-free diet

7. You can improve your digestive health and your intestinal microbiome

  • According to Megan Rossi, these are some actions you can take to improve your intestinal health:
  • Eat a diverse diet to diversify your gut microbiome
  • Lower your stress level by doing meditation, relaxation, mindfulness or yoga
  • If you already have symptoms of an intestinal problem, it is best to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods because they can exacerbate them.
  • Try to sleep better: a study showed that if you change or interrupt your biological clock by altering your sleep patterns, you also interrupt that of the microbes in your gut, and what you want is to pamper them.

What do you think about it? Very interesting, right?


Muy importante información, muchas gracias por compartir

Norma Rivera ,

Me parece un excelente reportaje. Gracias

Alexa Pineda,

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