I’m not disputing the scientific soundness of the whole brain-gut connection, but it really does sound a little bit like something out of a science-fiction story. I mean, you’re telling me that the trillions of tiny organisms that live in my gut, chomping up my food for me and maintaining my digestive system, have an impact on what I think and do and say? That the content of my thoughts might be at least partially determined by the eggs I had for breakfast, or the vitamin C I haven’t consumed enough of? It boggles the mind (at least, a mind influenced by my microbiome, fueled almost exclusively by Sour Patch Kids).
Strange as it may seem, though, it’s also a case of our science finally catching up to our idioms. Without realizing it, we’ve been talking about the link between brain and gut for a long time: Ever had a gut-wrenching car ride, or a gut instinct about someone, or butterflies in your stomach? In less colorful terms, the stomach and the mind really do talk to one another; in one study, for example, tentative mice that received gut bacteria transplants from braver ones became more fearless, exploring a maze with less hesitation. So strong is the microbiome’s impact that some have deemed it the “second brain.” And recently, a team of researchers found that our guts may harbor evidence of difficult life experiences many years after the fact, changing everything from how we digest food to how we process stress. In fact, these changes in our “second brain” may substantially alter the structure of our first, creating a feedback loop between the two.
Discover more at: HuffPost