Lifestyle Works

More Than Just A Gut Feeling

Attitude and outlook may not all be in the head. Researchers have found that the gut can function like a second brain -- influencing the nervous system and behavior. High fat intake has been shown to affect this gastrointestinal nervous system, helping to improve emotional balance. But not any fat will do -- specific fatty acids are the key to unlocking a bright and stable frame of mind.

The gut isn't just about digesting food -- it also regulates our emotional climate throughout the day. A specialized field of study dubbed neurogastroenterology, links the workings of the gastrointestinal tract with mood and emotional health. According to Michael Gershon, professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University, "The gut can work independently of any control by the brain in your head - it's functioning as a second brain." Through a network of 100 million neurons in the gut called the enteric nervous system (ENS), over 30 neurotransmitters are produced that are identical to those found in the brain -- one of which is serotonin. Incredibly, 90 percent of all serotonin is located in the gut. Remember, serotonin is an important feel-good hormone that regulates sleep, appetite and mood. Gershon continues,"Tinkering with the second brain in our gut has lately been shown to be a potent tool for achieving relief from major depression."
The results of a Belgian study confirm Gershon's theory. Researchers bypassed the pleasures of eating by inserting a nasogastric tube into the stomach of healthy volunteers. They were then given either a saline or fatty acid solution through the tube. At the same time, each person was exposed to melancholic or neutral music along with sad or innocuous images. Feelings reported by participants as well as MRI brain scans showed that those who received the fatty acid infusion had about half the sadness compared with the saline group.

Feeding joyful emotions

For maximum emotional benefit, certain types of fat are more effective than others. Saturated fat from animal products like dairy, red meat and pork tend to cloud the brain, provoke aggression and trigger depression. Trans fats, which are found in foods like margarine, shortening and many fast foods, are another mood killer. A happier, more positive choice would be omega-3 rich foods like salmon and other cold water fish, walnuts, flax and chia seeds. These fatty acids 'feed' the gut and emotions in a constructive way -- helping to nourish a sunny and balanced disposition by directly supporting the enteric nervous system's production of serotonin.

~Carolanne Wright,, September 08, 2012

Fibre Benefits Digestion

In our modern day life, we have adapted much of our diet to ready made, refined pre-packaged meals. Many of us are on the run a lot of the time and even when home, time is against us, so meal preparation can suffer as a result.

Ingesting refined foods, we basically remove the wheels for our digestion. With much of the fibre taken out in the processing, it makes the journey through the whole digestion process from mouth to evacuation slow and hard going. Consequently, as the movement of food is slowed down, meals start to build up on top of each other and soon we notice bloating, discomfort.

If not addressed and corrected the build up of waste can become so toxic to the whole body, that disease will result. To alter the diet and add in foods with their natural fibre, many illnesses can be avoided. Ingesting fibre naturally with our foods puts the wheels back on for the digestive journey. This in turn will significantly aid in the removal of waste and often prevent disease even starting.

Crohn’s disease - a fibre-rich, unrefined carbohydrate diet appears to have a beneficial effect on Crohn’s disease. The increase in fibre intake should be gradual and food should be chewed thoroughly.

Diverticulitis - a high-fibre diet can bring significant relief of symptoms in people with diverticular disease, and the benefits increase with time.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Some researchers feel that an irritable bowel is one that is irritated by a refined, fibre depleted diet. To take in fibre is shown to help greatly.

Ulcerative Colitis - A diet high in fibre, exercise and a brief cold compress to the abdomen may be used to encourage proper bowel emptying. It should be introduced gradually to a person who has been on a low fibre diet for a long period of time.

~Natural Remedies, page 42, 46, 73, 123

Recipe of the Month

Does bread make your gut bloated? Try this option.
Sam’s Gluten Free Bread

Sift into a bowl the following ingredients and then mix well.

60g chickpea flour 3 t guar gum
70g tapioca flour 1 ½ t salt
150g brown rice flour 1 t raising power
140g maize cornflour 2 t instant yeast
30g soy compound 5 t No Egg (Orgran Egg replacer)

Place into bread-maker bowl the following ingredients

2 ¼ c or 530ml very warm water
1 T honey
30 g coconut oil

Rotate the bread-maker paddle until all ingredients have dissolved. Add flour mixture. Bake on gluten-free setting (if option available) on light crust.