Your “Second Brain” and Why It’s So Important

I have a crazy relationship with my stomach and I have had weird issues with my gut health since I was a little kid. When I was in high school, my stomach problems seemed to get worse and worse to the point that I was getting sick every day, I could barely hold anything down, and I was at a very unhealthy weight. Fast forward to about seven years later and I feel like I’m somewhat of an expert on stomach issues. Here’s what I learned.

Why Is Your Gut Called a “Second Brain?”

Your brain is the number 1 most important part of your body. It controls everything you do, what you think, how you interact with people, and how you are feeling. Its health reigns above all else. However, your gut ranks number 2 and you have the ability to control its health more directly.

Your gut is linked directly to your brain through the enteric nervous system (ENS) . The two work together to create optimal health and that means that if you’ve ever heard someone say, “you are what you eat,” they are perfectly right. This doesn’t mean that if you eat a carrot, you’ll become a carrot. It means that if you eat healthy, your body will perform optimally. Hence, if you eat lots of gluten, dairy, and sugars, you may feel sluggish, depressed, and irritable. If you’ve been very stressed lately, it may cause stomach upset even though the stress has nothing to do with your food choices. The two go hand-in-hand.

In order to keep your gut healthy, stay away from preservatives and other manmade chemically-laden foods. Avoid anything processed in a factory or with ingredients you can’t easily pronounce. Anything that ends in “-ose” is most likely a form of highly processed sugar. Fructose and lactose are naturally found sugars in fruit and dairy. However, when isolated, or turned into high fructose corn syrup, they can sit in your body and accumulate as fat that’s difficult for your body to process. They can harm your gut bacteria and overall lead to poor health. Avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame (Splenda, etc). The two damage your neurons and trick your brain into thinking something is tasty, when in reality, it is not. MSG specifically can make you addicted to foods. Ever find yourself unable to stop eating Doritos? To go a step further, avoid dairy products (especially cow’s milk) and gluten.

TLDR;

AVOID:

  • “-ose” sugars
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • aspartame
  • gluten
  • dairy (especially cow’s milk)

If you do have an upset stomach, there are a few things you can eat to help. First, try to take a quality probiotic every day. Yes, that means the ones you need to refrigerate. Eat a papaya or take concentrated papaya tablets. Papaya contains digestive enzymes that help break down the food in your gut. Squirt some digestive bitters into your mouth. I like this brand by Urban Moonshine, but I prefer the papaya tablets. Drink a bunch of water. This always, always helps. If you’re nauseous as well, try to get in the cold somehow, whether that be stepping outside, blasting the A/C, or entering a large freezer, any of these will work.

In a worst-case scenario, eat some activated charcoal to bind with whatever you ate that made you sick. Activated charcoal doesn’t bind with everything and especially if you’re taking a pill, it may not work immediately. An even better option is to drink bentonite clay in a glass of water. Redmond  makes a fantastic bentonite clay that can be used internally.

TLDR;

If your stomach hurts, take this:

  • Water
  • Digestive bitters
  • Papaya tablets
  • Activated charcoal
  • Bentonite clay

Photo Credit: Onnit Academy

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