|Hippocrates the father of medicine said: “All disease starts in the gut”|
He lived in ancient Greece between 460 and 370BC. This is a man who was a physician and all that time ago his wise words were hugely powerful and correct. As we know it today the gut is the home to 80% of our immune system is something isn’t right with our body, if we feel off or down right sick then the gut should be the first place to look for answers.
“Gut microbiome plays a key role in regulating host metabolic functions and immune homeostasis.”
What this means is that the delicate balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the gut must be preserved or looked after to ensure we maintain a healthy metabolism but also a strong immune system. Therefore it would follow that what we put into our gut is going to have a positive effect on this environment or a negative one.
You will have heard we should all eat our veggies (and fruits) – some kids struggle with this truism as they grow up and parents spent a lot of time trying to persuade them to eat them all up because, they are good for you. The why is what kids, and all of us for that matter, need. Regardless of age I don’t believe kids are incapable of understanding the concept of a healthy tummy. We know fibre is a key reason for eating veggies not only do they fill us up but they provide an environment in our gut that allows for some fermentation and this assists in the positive balance of good bacteria while keeping us feeling fuller for longer which goes on to assist with weight management and satiety.
Time line for study of the gut
So what did Hippocrates really mean? And did he realise just how much he meant?
You may have also heard the expression our gut is our second brain.
“The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.”
Our second brain spans approx. 9 meters from esophagus to anus. Also known as the enteric nervous system.
“The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.”
“…equipped with its own reflexes and senses, the second brain can control gut behaviour independently of the brain.
Scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibres in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around.”
“A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,”
95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels, and serotonin is our feel good hormone, so if we are not sending the appropriate foods into our second brain the message coming back to our primary brain may be less than desirable.
Low serotonin levels are linked to depression. If we are able to maintain a healthier environment in our GI track then this could mean we are better able to manage our mood and potentially outlook on life.
Hippocrates may well have not known that his comment was not only accurate on face value, we are what we eat – which is partly true, but also the environment in our gut can set us up for ease or dis-ease, depression being just one of the potential diseases which may occur from the gut rather than the head.
Eat well – rest well – move well.
Ref: sciencedirect.com, scentificamerica.com