What is the Second Brain?
You may have heard the gut being referred to as the ‘Second Brain’ and wondering why? Surely the gut can’t help us understand what on earth Shakespeare was talking about or help us do mathematical equations!? No, the tissues in the gut are made of the same types of tissues as the Central Nervous System. These control an enormous network of hormones, electrical impulses and other pathways that communicate with our brain.
Have you ever felt your emotions in your gut when you’ve been nervous or anxious, or had a ‘gut feeling’? This is because your mind and gut are so intrinsically linked that some researchers believe they operate as one system, not two.
A huge amount of research is being undertaken to further understand these links between the brain and the gut and how this relationship might affect people’s overall health, wellbeing and state of mind. Emerging research suggests that maintaining a healthy gut with a balance of good bacteria has the potential to help improve mood, attitude and outlook on life.
The good news is that you can improve your gut health by feeding the good bacteria with a healthy, balanced diet high in fibre. The good bacteria love feasting on fibre, so it’s important to ensure we’re getting enough fibre each day. Fibre is found in plant foods – great sources include: fruit and vegetables, bran, wholemeal products, breakfast cereals and legumes.
In fact, eating whole grains is one of the most effective ways to ensure you’re getting enough fibre in your diet as they contain the most concentrated amount of fibre in their bran layer. Also remember to drink plenty of water as this will help to keep the fibre moving through your body.
Another way to ensure we’ve got a beautiful and diverse colony of good bacteria is to consume fermented foods and drinks that actually introduce more good bacteria into your gut. Some of these include: kombucha, fermented milk drinks, yogurt with live cultures, Kim Chi and sauerkraut.
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