Most people are not aware that a major portion of our nervous system is located in our intestines, also know as the ‘enteric nervous system’ by doctors or, more commonly, as our ‘second brain.’ In fact, more than 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, as well as about 50% of the body’s dopamine. Furthermore, your intestines produce and co-regulate 30 other neurotransmitters identical to those found in your brain and are used by your central nervous system to regulate mood, stress levels, sleep patterns, mental functioning and any number of other essential body processes.
As you can imagine, an imbalanced, damaged or poorly functioning digestive system—whether that is due to antibiotic use, diet and lifestyle or simply overconsumption of irritating foods—interferes with the functioning of this second brain and has been implicated in depression and other mood disorders, immune system disruption and many other common diseases.
It is no coincidence that both Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, arguably the two oldest systems of medicine on the planet, consider digestion to be one of the key factors influencing our health. These forerunners of modern medicine discovered through thousands of years of clinical practice and observation that a very direct link exists between a person’s digestive health and their physical and mental well-being. In fact, some of the more radical Ayurvedic doctors go so far as to not even acknowledge the presence of individual diseases, believing that all imbalances in the body stem from digestive problems and faulty diet in one form or another.