05 February 2009

Gut Feeling

As everyone knows, the Ancient Greeks thought with their heads and felt with their hearts. This makes sense, sense being a Greek invention. The Ancient Hebrews, on the other hand, thought with their hearts (Proverbs 23:7) and felt with their … entrails … their "bowels," which could “yearn,” be “moved with compassion,” and be “filled with charity.”

We Enlightened Western Judeo-Christian folks, of course, do all of the above.

Now the modern technical term for bowels is … I know you’re thinking intestines, colon, something along those lines, but it’s actually ... “gut.”

And wait! There’s more.

I’m thinking of this today because of an article PLMP sent me as we were considering the benefits of kefir-drinking. It’s from the writer of “The World’s Most Popular Natural Health Newsletter,” one Dr. Mercola. Even though the article is called “Gut Bacteria Mix Predicts Obesity” and contains a lot of guilt-inducing information about antibiotics and the proper feeding of infants and children, I shall wrench myself away from my fatness and guilt obsessions for a moment (except have you heard about the “infectobesity" theory?) to focus on something else in this article:

Did you know that your gut is your “second brain,” containing something like 100,000 neurons, about the same number as your actual first brain?!? So when you’re upset, you “know” it by the neurological disturbance we call “butterflies in the stomach,” or by other sorts of intestinal disturbance that some of us know only too well.

It gets even more interesting: More than 95 percent of your serotonin is made not in your brain but in your gut!

Ponder this. (Wherever you do your pondering.) The neurotransmitter responsible for regulating my sense of well being, that stuff an insufficient amount of which leaves me feeling anxious and sad, is cooked up somewhere along my alimentary canal!

I just don’t know what … if even where! … to think about this. (If you think with your gut, you feel with your … hands?)

This has very important implications for me personally. For years I have been saying (in a justifiably proud sort of way) that I personally cured my depression through a “scrupulous mental hygiene” that unburdened the pitiful amount of serotonin performing herculean functions in my bizarre, befuddled brain. Little did I know that it might not have been the intense mental effort of head (and heart?) that did it. It just might have been all that Fiber Cleanse Sister Rhee sold me, which left my colon a lean, clean, serotonin machine!

WARNING! The author suggests that you obtain appropriate third-party verification from peer-reviewed sources before accepting any facts, assertions, or even metaphors found in this post. Switch your Google default to Google Scholar, and remember that you will not be permitted to cite Wikipedia in your final paper …. Oh, wait, sorry. Slipped into the wrong persona there.

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