You know the feeling; when a situation is placed in front of you and there’s something inside that just knows what to do. That intuition is difficult to describe and is commonly known as a gut feeling. It turns out, that name is rooted in actual science, there are in fact physical connections between what’s going on in your brain, and what’s going on in your gut. Many of us often second-guess ourselves in these gut-instinct moments, but I’m here to tell you what is actually going on inside your body in these moments and why you should listen to it.
First, I want to introduce you to the brain-gut axis. This is is the complex network of hundreds of millions of neurons that serves as a through-line for chemicals and hormones between your gut and your brain. This pathway communicates when you are hungry, excited, stressed, nervous, and a plethora of other intense emotions. Your body and mind are beautifully interconnected and communicate with one another so that you can feel your best.
The digestive tract also has its own nervous system that operates independently from your central nervous system, often called the “second brain.” People tend to think that communication of the brain-gut axis only travels from the brain to the gut, but it goes in the opposite direction too. Part of the job of the second brain in your intestines is to pay attention to what is happening with the bacteria in your gut. It listens to these bacteria and sends information directly to the brain so that you can understand how your body is experiencing the world and so you can make decisions that will best serve it. The messages of these bacteria directly impact the level of serotonin in your body, which as we all know, influences overall happiness. So, as you receive signals from your gut to your brain, remember that it is trying to tell you what to do in order to increase your happiness levels.
The indescribable gut feelings we all get are our gut bacteria trying to tell our brain something it does not yet know, it can sense what is in your best interest on a physical and mental level. So next time you are in a difficult spot, need to take a step back or have a big decision to make, you should listen to those smart little bacteria in your guts, after all, they just want you to be happy.