Thursday, December 10, 2015

It Takes Guts

A primal connection exists between our brain and our gut. We often talk about a “gut feeling” when we meet someone for the first time. We’re told to “trust our gut instinct” when making a difficult decision or that it’s “gut check time” when faced with a situation that tests our nerve and determination. This mind-gut connection is not just metaphorical. Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback about how hungry we are, whether or not we’re experiencing stress, or if we’ve ingested a disease-causing microbe.
~Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg, "Gut Feelings - The 'Second Brain'  in Our Gastrointestinal Systems"

We've heard a lot recently about the "second brain" in our stomach. Johns Hopkins Medicine says it's "hidden in the walls of the digestive system" and that "[s]cientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it’s not so little. The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum." The ENS doesn't think for itself, but it is in constant communication with your brain and may trigger emotional changes in people with bowel problems (irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, etc.) - so it's not just that depression affects your bodily functions, but that depression might be caused by them.

It's an interesting concept, right? With that on our minds, we've compiled a list of some of the most recent books in the catalog about your stomach and guts and how they work.  Check them out, see what you think - but of course consult your physician before you make any decisions regarding your health!

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health by Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, and Erica Sonnenburg, PhD

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