I’m sure most of you have heard people say, “What does your gut tell you?”. The interesting thing is that we actually have another brain in our gut, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). There are over 100 million neurons in the gut, more than the number of nerve cells in the spinal cord. So, our gut actually has an intelligence that can guide our every move, if we know how to tap into it.
The gut brain also produces many of the feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin, that’s found in the body. The phrase ‘gut feeling’ is rooted in the actual physiology of what’s going on in the body. The gut produces 95% of the serotonin in the body so if the gut is not happy, we are not happy. Digestive aids are the number 1 selling over-the-counter medications on the market because most of us have lost touch with our gut wisdom and have been taxing our body with toxic foods, thoughts, stress and lifestyle choices. (As an aside, when we take antacids to relieve heartburn, we also neutralize the acidity in our stomach — what’s digesting our food????)
There is a very strong intelligence in the gut because it has so many neurons which transmit information throughout the body. An effective way to tap into the gut intelligence is the same as you would in tapping into your brain intelligence and that is by breathing. When you breathe, you bring oxygen into the body. We could last four weeks without food, four days without water, but only four minutes without oxygen – so oxygen is a vital nutrient to make our brains (head and gut) smarter, more responsive and more alert.
Another way that we can tap into our gut intelligence is by slowing down and checking in with ourselves, like we would when we are ‘thinking something over’. Well, the same thing with our gut brain — before you eat, when you eat, after you eat – check in. Check in to see what you’re eating, how you’re feeling , why you’re eating, how are you eating, with whom you’re eating, what agrees with you, does the eating experience give you pleasure, are you present and aware when you’re eating, etc. ? And so on.
We can also enhance the intelligence of our gut brain, in addition to breathing and bringing oxygen into that part of the body and asking it questions, is to maybe do some belly massages.
Touch can be a very powerful way to release prolactin into a body. Prolactin is the bonding hormone that’s produced when a mother nurses her child so gently messaging our belly has the potential for creating and (re)establishing a ‘bond’, so to speak, between you and your gut brain so that you can actually be able to tune in to the messages that’s there.
And once we learn how to get in touch with the gut brain, it’s extremely empowering because the wisdom is right there and things we do will feel right. And sometimes the wisdom is that you still need to go outside for more information. That’s okay, but the wisdom is right there for us to tap into it.
This is what I have been trying to do in my speaking and coaching practice – to get people more and more in touch with their inner wisdom or ‘gut brain’ by doing some very practical, but effective things so they learn to trust themselves in the process of how to nourish their bodies.
When we feel empowered in our relationship with food, it affects how we feel about ourselves and how we live our lives. This in turn can give us the energy, stamina and desire to live from the deepest part of who we are. And isn’t that what we are all here to do – to be the highest expression of ourselves? Our relationship to food can play an important role in helping us get there, as it has done for me.
If you are interested in learning more about my speaking and/or coachng practice, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look out for emails from me on where I will be speaking next.