The gut isn’t called our “second brain” for no good reason. Have you ever noticed that when your diet is really clean, your thinking becomes much clearer? That your memory, alertness and ability to concentrate are much sharper and quicker? This can happen quite quickly when you clean up your diet and start to balance your digestive system.
And it’s one of the things I get reminded of when, on the rare occasion, I eat something like bread or pastry. Everything, including my cognitive function, slows right down and I start to feel sleepy and bloated.
I’ve begun to recognise that, for me, this is a “comforting” habit that helps me to block out, or numb myself, to whatever is going on for me that I don’t want to look at or think about too much.
It’s not that easy to spot until you really do clean your gut out of stuff that slows everything up. Many people are going around in a permanent state of sluggishness, not even realising that it’s probably due to what they are putting in their mouth.
The gut, the brain, our thoughts and emotions are all directly and intimately connected. Did you know, for instance, that 90% of the feel good hormone Seratonin comes from your gut, as a direct result of what you have eaten, and is fed straight to your brain? This is why foods like Bananas and Walnuts can elevate our mood, because they act to increase the Seratonin levels in the brain.
I believe it’s also true that the food you are feeding yourself is directly linked to the thoughts you are feeding yourself.
Negative thoughts can create digestive stress and tension in the solar plexus region, which is directly where our small intestine is located, and it’s also where we hold a lot of nervous tension in our body.
The Harvard Medical School explains it this way, which I think is perfect, “the brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices even before the food gets there. And this works both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause, or the product, of anxiety, stress or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately linked. So intimately, in fact, that they should be viewed as one system.”
What I have found to be true, both personally and from meeting and talking with so many others who have moved over to a high raw and plant based diet, is that a clean diet equals clear thinking and heightened intuition.
And this happens on so many levels – physically it improves neurological pathways in the brain, mentally it increases cognitive thought patterns and memory function, emotionally we feel elevated, and spiritually more connected.
The stomach is often now referred to as our second brain, and if we learn to really tune into our “gut feeling” we can hear a subtle “yes” or “no” answer without having to over think things! I think we can all identify with that as being a natural instinct, when we just KNOW something to be true or not… even when we don’t always follow the message.
If we don’t take care of our internal physical environment, we’re also draining our brain of nutrients, and our behavior and mood are directly, and sometimes instantly, affected. We can see how children behave when they’ve eaten sugary sweets, or as my friend Matt calls it “wind-up food”!
Neurologist and author of the New York Times bestseller “Grain Brain”, David Perlmutter, says that “diet and lifestyle have a profound role to play in determining the destiny of a person’s health with respect to brain function.” And describes processed wheat, carbs and sugar as “the brains’ silent killers.”
So what can you do to help your gut and brain function more harmoniously together? Here’s what I try to practice as much as possible, and it really does make a difference:
EAT lots of clean, raw, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, fermented foods and/or probiotics to promote healthy gut bacteria and create an efficient digestive system. Try a Body Cleanse like this one to boost your brain power.
DRINK freshly pressed green juices, smoothies and pure water every day that will be absorbed directly into the blood stream to feed the cells and keep the mind alert.
EXERCISE every day to bring clean oxygen directly to the cells and the brain.
REDUCE/ELIMINATE processed food, wheat, gluten, dairy, alcohol and processed sugar.
NOTICE how you feel mentally after eating something, whatever it is. Does your thinking become foggy? Do you feel agitated or sleepy?
PRACTICE positive and loving thoughts about yourself and others. Metaphysics is real. It works.
REMOVE toxic chemicals from your life and home where you can. Use essential oils instead!
Also, read my blog post “10 Best Happy Foods” to keep your diet topped up with brain-loving foods!