Gut (2015) is a film that is both amusing and scientific in its exploration of the gut, an organ that is equally as fascinating and essential as the brain. When you follow a slice of cake as it makes its way through the digestive system, you will learn to appreciate the gut for the complex and amazing ecosystem that it is.
Who is it that reads the Gut book?
- People who are interested in learning more about their own bodies and how they function
- Anyone who is experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort
Who is Giulia Enders, and what is her story?
Giulia Enders has a PhD in microbiology and hospital hygiene from the Institute for Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. In 2012, her ideas about the human gut were recognized at a scientific slam in Karlsruhe and Berlin.
What exactly is in it for me? Have a little bit of courage!
Consider your reaction if someone at a dinner party began chatting about their stomach and the last time they had a bowel movement. You'd probably be very disgusted if this happened to you. After all, the digestive system isn't exactly a subject of discussion in polite society. However, it is possible that it should be! As it turns out, our stomach is much more interesting than it is disgusting, as shown by the following: In reality, it is one of the most sophisticated and amazing organs that we have at our disposal. It's time to reconsider your beliefs about digestion if you're one of those individuals who gets disgusted anytime someone discusses anything having to do with digestion. These notes will help you learn to tolerate your own digestive system. As we trace the path of a slice of cake through the body, we'll discover things about the stomach that you never knew were possible.
Among the topics covered in these notes are the definition of lactose intolerance, how depression may be treated in mice, and how microorganisms affect our state of awareness.
The stomach is a one-of-a-kind and magnificent organ – and it is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about!
When it comes to the inner workings of our digestive system, we don't typically speak about them. Indeed, many people find the subject matter to be plain offensive. The intricate activities of the stomach, on the other hand, are more intriguing than unpleasant, and the gut is one of the most underappreciated organs in the body. Furthermore, it would be beneficial for all of us to understand a little bit more about what occurs when we eat. The majority of people are completely unaware of what occurs in our gut, which is referred to as the gastrointestinal tract in more technical terms. No one has ever complained about the nasty final product that ends up in the toilet, but few of us are acquainted with the significant labor that goes into creating that product.
Of course, there is one aspect of digestion that we pay particular attention to. That would be the first stage, during which we chew our food and enjoy the flavor of our meal. However, if there is an issue, such as indigestion, we are only concerned with the remainder of the procedure. For that reason, that food reaches a region of smooth muscle tissue that is beyond our conscious awareness. After we swallow it, we are unable to feel it. In reality, our digestive system has its own neural system, which allows our digestive system to execute all of its tasks on its own without the assistance of our brain. Due to the fact that it performs its functions without the participation of our conscious mind, our digestive system is an extremely rare and special human organ.
Another remarkable feature of our gut is the incredible diversity of microorganisms that live within it.Up to 100 billion bacteria may be found throughout our whole digestive tract. 99 percent of all bacteria in our whole body are contained inside this structure! Of course, these germs are expelled from the body as well: there are more bacteria in one gram of feces than there are humans on the face of the globe. However, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It's all part of the vital and amazing job that the stomach performs on a daily basis. It's something we take for granted, yet what our stomach provides for our mind and body is something for which we should be very thankful.
The journey of food through our bodies starts with our senses on the outside.
Tracking a slice of cake as it travels through the digestive system will allow us to appreciate the job that our stomach is doing. Although your trip may not begin until after your first bite, in this particular instance, it starts when you're standing outside the bakery, when you first set eyes on the cake. Your mouth starts to wet as you gaze at the cake through the store window, imagining the delicious fragrance and taste that awaits you inside the cake shop. You decide to get it because you are unable to resist. Although the desire to purchase the cake does not seem to have arisen spontaneously, it is a natural response to the sight of delectable food.
The process of eating is intimately connected to our sense of sight. The creation of gastric acid in our stomach is triggered when we see something that we want to eat, which prepares our gut for the digestion process. While our minds may urge us to lose weight and avoid the cake, our brains are powerless against the gut's desire to indulge.As soon as you walk inside the store, your sense of smell kicks in, luring you closer to the delectable confection. Tiny fragrance particles produced by the cake travel through the air and into your nose, where they are absorbed by your body. After reaching your mucus barrier, the particles disintegrate and go to your brain, where they further arouse your cravings. After that, you'll finally have the cake in your possession. At the same time, when you begin the act of eating, your tongue and sense of taste are both engaged.
As you eat, the muscles in your tongue and jaw are put to use. In preparation for swallowing, your tongue places the food against the palatal region of your mouth after you have finished chewing. As a result, the cake passes through your soft palate and throat and into your esophagus, which is also known as your gullet. Upon entering the smooth muscle tissue zone, the cake is said to have been baked. And it is at this point that your meal enters the domain of the subconscious.
Our food travels down the esophagus and into the gut and small intestine before passing out.
Consider the scene: tens of thousands of people gathered in a sports arena, all waving. Your esophagus behaves in a similar manner, with an undulatory motion that helps food flow from one end to the other easily. As soon as that slice of cake gets one-third of the way down your throat, you have no control over the muscles that are pushing the food along its trip. However, even if you were to do a handstand, the esophagus would continue to move food toward the stomach. Because it has been doing this since you were a newborn in your mother's womb, your esophagus has perfected the art of swallowing half a liter of amniotic fluid every day. Eventually, the slice of cake makes its way into the stomach from the esophagus. During this time, the meal is digested for about two hours, until it has been completely broken down by stomach fluid. The cake has been split into pieces that are about 0.2 millimeters in size at this stage.
All of this knowledge is likely to make it clear why digestion is a completely unconscious process. No one would want to spend two hours deconstructing a slice of cake in their minds. During a meal, when additional food is ingested and your stomach grows to accommodate it, you will feel fuller. It has such a wide range of capabilities that it is almost difficult to consume more than it can manage. It's interesting to note that emotions may have the opposite impact on the stomach. Stress and worry may cause your stomach to constrict, resulting in a loss of appetite and indigestion. However, these emotions may also create issues in the stomach, with the gastric juices eroding away at the stomach lining and causing ulcers to develop.
But if all goes according to plan, the little bits of cake are transferred from the stomach to the small intestine and eventually eliminated. This link is established via a tiny region of the stomach known as the pylorus, which aids in the movement of food. When the meal reaches the small intestine, the digestive process begins in earnest, which is critical. This is the point at which your body starts to extract vital nutrients from the food you eat.
The small intestine is where the majority of digestion occurs.
The small intestine is in a state of continuous motion. Internally, the walls are made up of intestinal villi, which are little finger-like protrusions that move and manipulate the food as it travels through the digestive system. Each millimeter of the small intestine includes about 30 villi, all of which are oriented in the same direction: forward! Small electric shocks stimulate the intestinal muscles to contract in a rhythmic manner, which helps to move the food through the system. A portion of the digestive fluid, which has been used to extract nutrients from the meal, is absorbed into the body during this procedure. After passing through the small intestine, one slice of cake will last about one hour before entering the big intestine. The small intestine is a neat freak who loves to keep things clean. Following the completion of its task, it proceeds to clean up its mess. It growls as it cleans up after itself.
Contrary to common perception, when you hear your stomach growling, it is not your stomach alerting you that it is hungry; rather, it is your small intestine cleansing itself. It is possible that when you eat in response to this sound, you are really interfering with this process! However, before our slice of cake reaches the large intestine, it passes through a section of the digestive tract known as the ileocecal valve. It is important to note that, in contrast to the work done in the small intestine, which needs a lot of energy, the procedure here is rather quiet. The ileocecal junction enables the body to absorb any leftover fluids, such as B12 vitamins and gastric acid, from the stomach into the bloodstream.
Stress and worry may have a negative impact on this region, just as they do on the stomach. In certain cases, diarrhea may be experienced as a consequence of this situation. Our digestive system processes approximately ten liters of fluid per day, which includes everything from water and saliva to gastric fluids and chyle, a chemical formed when our bodies digest fatty meals.Therefore, it should come as no surprise that pauses in the process may result in certain fluids slipping through the cracks. The digestive process takes at least 10 hours to complete, at a bare minimum. However, it is possible for digestion to take up to 100 hours, starting with the initial meal and continuing until the process is completed.
The gut is thought to be the source of allergies and lactose intolerance, according to conventional wisdom.
What is the first part of the body that comes to mind when you think about allergies? It's the nose. You probably think of red, itchy eyes, skin rashes, or a runny nose when you think of allergies. The stomach isn't the first place that springs to mind when thinking about where to start. This letter, on the other hand, could make a difference. Regarding the impact your stomach plays on the allergies you encounter, there is an intriguing idea to consider. It all starts with the manner in which proteins are broken down throughout the digestive process. Sometimes things don't go quite as well as they ought to. The consumption of hazelnuts, for example, may result in the formation of tiny protein fragments that do not enter the circulation while the small intestine is performing its function.
Once the fragments have been encased in fat droplets, they may be absorbed into the lymphatic system via the small intestine's lymphatic capillaries, resulting in an infection. Consequently, these fragments come into touch with our immune cells. In addition, when these leftover proteins are discovered by these cells, the cells may behave as if they are a hazardous nucleus, causing an allergic response to fight them off. Even worse, if this occurs again, our immune system will be primed to anticipate the "attack" and respond with an even more severe allergic response than the first time. Lactose intolerance is a condition that falls into the same group. It all starts with the papilla, which is an aperture at the beginning of the small intestine's entry. This is the stage at which gastric fluid, which is generated by the liver and pancreas and contains essential enzymes, is injected to aid in the subsequent digestion of the meal.
The stomach fluid produced by the papilla, on the other hand, does not include the enzymes required for the breakdown of lactose. These enzymes are generated by cells that are located farther down the small intestine in the digestive tract. However, when there aren't enough of these enzymes available, lactose reaches the large intestine and provides food for the gas-producing bacteria in the colon. Anyone who has lactose intolerance is familiar with the symptoms that follow: flatulence, gas cramps, and diarrhea. We will all eventually encounter a genetic mutation that will prevent the synthesis of the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose. Unfortunately, as we get older, 75 percent of the population will suffer this change.
Surprisingly, our stomachs have the ability to influence our brains.
Have you ever been accused of making decisions based on the feelings in your stomach?According to the results of the study, this adage is not nearly as absurd as it first seems. As we've discovered, our stomach has its own neural system, which enables it to function on its own, instinctively, without our intervention. An estimated 500 million neurons make up the enteric nervous system, also known as the intrinsic nervous system or the enteric nervous system. And, when compared to the rest of our body's organs, the diversity of neurons that make up this system is only exceeded by the number of neurons that make up the brain itself. The study of neuroscience has revealed a great deal about how the brain functions and how it is accountable for the emotions we experience. In following the pathways of communication between the brain and stomach as they traverse the central nervous system, we are faced with the issue of whether or not our gut has an impact on our emotions.
That is an issue that has been investigated by science. The results of mouse studies support the likelihood of a positive outcome in this case. The mice under observation were divided into two groups: those that were busy and cheerful and those who were sad and inactive. The results of the trial revealed that depressed mice that were fed bacteria to aid digestion were more active, exhibited fewer symptoms of stress, and performed better in learning and memory tests after just a short period of time. Furthermore, when the therapy was given to mice that had their vagus nerve cut, the nerve that is primarily responsible for communication between the stomach and the brain, the animals exhibited no improvement. The evidence is consistent with the idea that a healthy stomach leads to a healthy mind.
While our brain is intended to absorb information from our external senses of sight, smell, touch, and hearing, our stomach is strategically located in the center of our bodies, making it the ideal organ to serve as our internal sensory organ. It is not such a terrible idea to let your stomach do some thinking, especially when you consider how much work is going on within our bodies.
The gut is home to a diverse and important community of microorganisms.
Not only does the stomach have its own neural system, but it also accounts for about 80 percent of our immune system. However, given the fact that the majority of harmful bacteria and pathogenic germs enter our bodies via our mouths, this information may not come as a complete surprise to some. However, not all of the microorganisms to which our bodies are exposed are harmful. It is true that the work of microbes is critical to our overall health. While in the womb, we are in a sterile environment, and every one of our cells is made up of human cells. However, as soon as our amniotic sac is ruptured, a slew of microorganisms from all over the globe descend on our bodies. Rather astonishingly, microorganisms eventually make up 90 percent of the cells in our bodies once we are born! Although it may seem frightening to someone who is afraid of germs, our bodies are really rich ecosystems that contain millions of bacteria. We wouldn't be able to live if it weren't for them.
The development of beneficial bacteria in our guts takes place throughout the first three years following birth. Mother's milk is an excellent source of beneficial microorganisms such as bifidobacteria, which may assist us to avoid getting overweight. Mother's milk also includes types of bacteria that assist us in the digestion and breakdown of our meals and beverages. The type of food that we are best suited to digest is highly dependent on our mother's diet.The type of bacteria that may aid in the digestion of a diet high in plants and fibrous foods, for example, will be provided to children by African moms. All of these microorganisms are still new to us, and we are constantly learning about them. In 2011, scientists identified enterotypes, which are bacterial families that band together and perform actions as a unit. Specifically, they discovered three distinct kinds of enterotypes, one of which would predominate in the gut of a person.
A number of studies have been conducted since this finding to determine the impact that various diets have in deciding which of these three enterotypes will be found in the bacterial ecology of a person's gut. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, individuals are classified into one of three different categories based on their long-term diet. It is conceivable that this study will establish a connection between the two fields.
It seems that the microorganisms in our stomachs have the ability to affect our awareness.
Humans seem to be learning about the significance of the numerous bacteria in our guts even after three million years of evolution, which is remarkable considering how long we have been on this planet. The gut flora is a colony of bacteria that inhabits our digestive system and may number up to 100 trillion in number. Furthermore, they may have a close connection with our brains as well. Consider the following question: Is it conceivable that the bacteria in our stomach communicate with our brain to inform it what type of food we want to eat? It may come off as a bit out there. The precise mechanism through which bacteria in the stomach transmit signals to the brain, which is shielded from all but the smallest of particles, is still a mystery to researchers.
What is the solution? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Bacteria generate amino acids like tyrosine and tryptophan, which have the ability to penetrate past the protective layers of the brain. Once inside, these molecules are converted into biochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for our feelings of happiness and drowsiness. You may think of it as a kind of incentive system for providing your body with certain nutrients. What exactly the depth of this relationship is is something that science is still trying to figure out. Consider the possibility that refraining from particular meals may cause our brain to lose its desire for such foods, as shown by research. And it's possible that this is due to the fact that our stomach no longer has the bacteria that are drawn to such meals.
In addition to the bizarre instance of Toxoplasma gondii, which illustrates how microbes may influence behavior, there is the case of Salmonella typhimurium. This bacterium is most often seen in cats, although it has been found in people and rats as well. Rats are normally frightened away by cat urine, but when they are infected with Toxoplasma gondii, they become attracted to the smell. The parasite actually alters the behavior of its host, in this instance, to the detriment of the individual. When it comes into contact with a human host, the bacterium has a comparable lethal effect. It has been shown that Toxoplasma gondii may lead people to behave in an abnormally hazardous manner. Although further research is needed, a study conducted in the Czech Republic found that individuals who were sick were more likely to be involved in car accidents.
Instead of being repulsed by microorganisms, we should learn to accept and incorporate them into our daily routines.
The example of Toxoplasma gondii demonstrates that certain bacteria that establish a home in our stomachs are harmful to our health. But we shouldn't dismiss all microorganisms out of hand; after all, we spend our whole lives surrounded by them, no matter how much disinfection we apply. In the course of history, our attitudes about microorganisms have changed; at the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, there were two competing viewpoints. On one side stood Nobel Prize-winning Russian immunologist Ilya Mechnikov, whose research has shown that some bacteria, particularly those that produce lactic acid, may be advantageous. As part of his studies, he spent time with Bulgarian farmers, who were known for living long and healthy lives, and who were particularly fond of their yogurt, which had a high concentration of lactic acid bacteria.
Unfortunately, the individuals who rallied behind the discovery of penicillin and the revolutionary advantages of antibiotics were on the opposite side of the argument. They claim that the fewer germs that are present, the better, and it has been impossible to argue against them since the 1940s. However, those who attempted to develop infant formulae that mimicked the benefits of mother's milk discovered the advantages of bacteria. Despite the fact that scientists were able to duplicate the milk precisely, when infants drank the substance, they invariably ended up with diarrhea, according to the researchers. What exactly was lacking? The germs may also be discovered on the nipple of a nursing mother's breast. In recent years, we've come to appreciate the advantages of bacteria, and probiotic supplements are readily available in most stores. We now understand that probiotic bacteria may generate fatty acids that are beneficial to the stomach and the immune system in general.
It has been discovered that these advantages apply to what are known as prebiotics as well. These are fibrous meals that manage to pass through the small intestine undigested and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. It is suggested that you take 30 grams of prebiotics each day, but most individuals barely consume half that amount on a daily basis.
Everything works out in the end: defecation is a complicated interaction between the conscious and unconscious minds of humans.
Fortunately, we have arrived at our last destination on our trip through the gut: the large intestine, commonly known as the colon. At the point at which your meal reaches the big intestine, the digestive process is complete. Re-absorption of any leftover water occurs, while the excrement is readied for discharge. At the conclusion of this procedure, the food waste reaches the rectum, which is the location of our sphincter muscles. As a kid, you learn to keep your sphincter under control in order to prevent nasty mishaps. However, what you may not be aware of is that there is a second sphincter muscle inside the body that we are unable to regulate.
As is true for the majority of our digestive systems, the inner sphincter is completely automated. When the remnants of your meal arrive, it allows a tiny amount of waste to descend from the colon to the rectum, triggering nervous-system sensors that in turn alert our brains to what is going on in our bodies. This information includes whether the waste is gaseous or solid, as well as if we need to go to the bathroom right away or not, among other things. Following this evaluation, your brain allows you to consciously influence what occurs from that moment on. You decide when it is acceptable to open the outer sphincter and use the toilet, or when it is appropriate to discharge some gas inconspicuously.
If you have to go to the bathroom, this is the time when your conscious and unconscious stomachs begin to collaborate with one another. In order for this final defecation to take place, the inner and outer sphincters must function together in harmony. If you put off going to the bathroom for an extended period of time, you may cause damage to the inner sphincter muscle, which can lead to constipation. As a result, our food embarked on a lengthy and very fascinating trip. However, it is only at the very beginning and at the very conclusion of this trip that we have a conscious interaction with the food that we consume. And what about the ultimate, conscious interplay? Don't forget to flush the toilet!
The primary theme of this book is as follows: We have a stomach that is very interesting, and it is similar to the brain in terms of its complexity and significance. Our large intestine is home to a diverse collection of bacteria that are beneficial to our health. We have the ability to affect these microbes when we make mindful dietary choices. Advice that can be put into action: Make a positive contribution to your gut flora. Prebiotic foods such as artichokes, asparagus, green bananas, garlic, onions, parsnips, whole wheat, rye, oats, or leeks should be consumed on a regular basis. Contribute to the health of your microorganisms. When you assist your microorganisms in processing the food you consume on a daily basis, you will feel much better. As a result, whole-grain bread is preferable to a baguette in this situation. Further reading is recommended: Grain Brain is a book written by David Perlmutter. What we eat may either create or alleviate severe brain problems such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression, according to the book Grain Brain (2013). Eating properly is critical to the proper functioning of your brain, and the following notes explain why.
Written by BrookPad Team based on Gut by Giulia Enders