Gut Feelings

Hope, they say, begins with our thoughts. But in actual fact, hope’s origins are much more primal and fundamental than that.

Keeping those bright spots of color in our experience involves more than willing them with positive thinking. Positive thinking, yes, but positive thought is born of and rooted in of something very biological.

Our minds influence the health of our bodies, but the reverse is equally true. Mind and body dance closely, almost as one, both leading, both following.

We now know that the neurons, neuro-transmitters and receptors found in the brain are also present in every single organ and system in our bodies. Our guts have more neurons than do our brains, and, for better or worse, they produce 95 percent of all the serotonin produced by our bodies.

This of course explains the findings of a growing body of research supporting the use of a probiotic diet to reduce stress and alleviate depression and anxiety and sleep disorders. Probiotic food is food that is alive, food that energetically supports life. Healthy gut flora produce stress-reducing B–vitamins, and set the stage in a million other ways for good health throughout the body. It can positively impact almost everything on the spectrum between the restless overactive brain and the lethargic hopeless one.

To borrow Scott Peck’s famous opening line, life is difficult. How well we digest what it delivers and keep hope alive is determined in large part on what we put into our bodies. Hope and positive thought and body-brain chemistry are inseparable.

I read Margaret Trudeau’s account of her bipolar illness in Changing my Mind last weekend, which, while in need of a slightly heavier editorial hand, was a compelling read. But the brightest spot for me was learning that at least one of the doctors involved in treating her illness understood the key role nutrition plays. We can’t deprive our bodies and brains of the microbes and fats and trace minerals that are the very essence of life, and still expect to feel and function well.

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6 thoughts on “Gut Feelings

  1. I listened to a scientist discuss the ‘gut bacteria’ etc that we have that are apparently going to be with us for life and developed at an early age. They are about the only thing that never changes!
    Who knew?

    • They’re developed at an early age, true, and by age 3 or 4 resemble those of an adult. But from everything I know, it’s not a static situation throughout life at all. The balance is affected by our diets, and by heavy drinking, and most severely by a number of common medications (antibiotics and chemotherapies for starters). And of course the balance is affected in a positive way any time probiotic foods or supplements are used to counter the effects of medication.

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