You Have Two Brains
I bet you didn’t know you had two brains! One is in your skull and the other is your digestive system. That’s right, your gut or Enteric Nervous System is also known fondly as your second brain because if the vagus nerve that connects your brain and digestive system is cut, your digestive system operates just fine on its own.
Your gut is a very busy and important place. It:
- *Houses your immune system and keeps you well (70% of your immune system to be exact)
- *Runs your metabolism
- *Makes vitamins
- *Communicates with every cell in your body
- *Brings nutrients to each cell of your body
Fact: Did you know that, according to the CDC, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in men and women in the United States?
There are many steps you can take to protect your gut and overall health.
The types of food you eat have a huge impact on your digestive health. At this time of year, we tend to indulge a little more with food. We eat more sweets, more rich meals and drink more alcohol. We often find ourselves feeling tired, overwhelmed, and too full.
Treat yourself well by taking a few simple steps to insure good colon health.
- Eat fresh, whole foods.
- Plan ahead, especially when going to parties this season. Check menu’s, ask hosts what they plan to serve and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to bring your own food. I’ve been doing this for years. No one minds. I can eat with everyone else and enjoy myself. Most importantly, I never feel deprived.
- Eat small, frequent meals.
- Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full.
- Eat mindfully. Chew your food. Enjoy the flavors. Chewing helps break down food, aiding digestion, gives our brain (the one in your skull) time to register we are full so we don’t over eat and sends blood to the brain (always a good thing)!
- Eat local foods in season.
- Eat organic when possible.
- Eat fruits and veggies, tons of them! They are full of fiber to help keep things moving properly through your digestive tract. They also contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to support your overall health.
- Eat high quality protein. That means organic meats, grass fed beef and wild caught fish. By the way, a recent study did a meta-analysis on fish and discovered that studies show that people who eat fish can decrease their risk of colon cancer by 12%.
- Eat high fiber foods-whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit.
- Drink lots of water
Taken from Digestive Wellness by Liz Lipski, PhD.
And last but not least, be sure to get a colonoscopy every five years beginning when you are 50 years old. if you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, check with your doctor about getting screened earlier than 50 years old. My father has a history of polyps so I began getting screened in my mid-forties and yes, because of the family history, insurance covered it. Colonoscopies are easy, painless procedures that can give you peace of mind and continued good health.
To Your On-Going Good Health!
If you’d like help getting started on a path to healthy choices contact me at email@example.com.
- Lipski, L., PhD. (2012). Digestive Wellness, McGraw-Hill
- Logan, A., N.D., FRSH (2006). The Brain Diet. Nashville, Tennessee, Cumberland House Publishing.
- Wu, S., J. Liang, et al. (2011). “Fish consumption and the risk of gastric cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMC Cancer 11: 26.
Vicki Steine, LCSW
DSc student, Holistic Nutrition, Hawthorn University