Your Gut: The Inner Tube of Life
Balance Your Hormones to Turn Back the Clock
By: Mark Hyman, MD
This article originally appeared in The UltraMind Solution.
We all have had gut feelings. And we know what it is to feel something in our gut. In Japan, the gut is viewed as the seat of the mind and soul. A Japanese business mogul was once asked how he knew whether to do a deal, and he replied, “I swallow it, and if it feels good in my belly, I do it.”
Your gut has a mind of its own …
The “mind” of the gut talks to our brain every day. We are familiar with signals for hunger, or elimination. But a new conversation is being discovered between the gut and the brain, a bidirectional conversation with the brain speaking to the gut and the gut to the brain.
This week I want to talk a little bit about the gut, explore the relationship between the gut and the brain and explain why your “inner tube of life” is so important to lifelong health.
What is the Gut and Why is It Important?
The gut is a snake-like, disgusting and smelly thing, which we hope will quietly, silently, do its job of digesting, absorbing, and assimilating our food. We trust it will prevent toxins and bacteria from intruding into our systems, while eliminating our wastes in a timely and efficient manner without the least awareness on our part. Just do your job please.
Unfortunately, while the gut is a source of great intelligence, is it is also the source of great mischief for millions.
Nearly 70 million people suffer from some form of digestive disorder. Over 6 million diagnostic procedures are done for digestive problems and 45 million people visit the doctor for gut problems every year. Forty percent of all visits to internists are for “functional bowel” disorders such as reflux and irritable bowel syndrome. And the cost for treating digestive disorders is $107 billion a year.
You would think by now we would have a clear understanding of the causes of irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, reflux, and inflammatory bowel disease, just a few of the common problems experienced by millions. You would think by now we would have developed effective treatments to fix these problems.
Unfortunately our understanding and treatments of this highly sophisticated and integral part of our body are still quite primitive despite the explosion of scientific research on what Science magazine called, “the inner tube of life”.
Over the last 15 years of practice and research, I have found the gut to be the source of inestimable suffering. And I have found remarkable discoveries and cures that hold the promise, not only of getting relief from common “functional” gastrointestinal symptoms (and most allergic and autoimmune diseases which originate in the gut) but from everything from depression to autism, to OCD, to ADHD to dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Let’s start our exploration of the inner tube of life by discussing what it does.