Did you ever meet someone and immediately feel like your underwear was all twisted? Or feel like you want to throw up when someone grandstands in the work place?

Ever say to yourself "I can't stomach that guy?"

You can thank your second brain for being there to give you signals of distress, anxiety or need for caution.

Yes, the stomach and colon areas are vital for digestion of food. There's an elaborate setup that you're not often aware of (unless you eat three Big Macs, a fish sandwich, double fries and a chocolate shake all at once).

First there's the breakdown of food, the absorption of nutrients and then -- the final hurrah -- the expelling of what is no longer needed. Flush, and it's gone. Only to start again next day (I hope you're lucky enough to be regular).

However, there is more. This part of your body is way smarter than you think.

Pay attention to what Dr. Michael Gershon, author of "The Second Brain" and chairman of the department of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia University, has to say.

His research shows that this area helps us all "feel" the inner world of our gut and its contents. There's an intricate web of nerves that doesn't need the brain in our head to do what needs to be done. They're virtual workers who don't have to commute.

Without all the scientific detail, just know that gastrointestinal turmoil can change your  mood to generalized anxiety or depression -- not just wanting to puke from overeating.

There is a lot to learn if you really want to do a deep dive read of Dr Gershon's book. If not, here's an important fact: More than 90 percent of the body's serotonin lies in the gut, as well as about 50 percent of dopamine.

Serotonin affects mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. And dopamine makes you feel happy when you do something that gives you a reward.

If you take this seriously, you will change some of the ways you respond to daily situations. You will begin to trust that "gut feeling" is more than just a fleeting idea. If it "feels right" or 'feels dangerous" pay attention.

In my leadership program, I have often used a process developed by Eugene Gendlin PhD that you can find in his book "Focusing." It works, and yet, it is only recently that what seemed like magic years ago is now explained in the book "The Mind-Gut Connection" by Emeran Mayer, MD. executive director of the UCLA Center for the Neurobiology of Stress.

Think of it this way: your brain is partly inside your skull and partly in the walls of your intestinal tract and these areas cooperate in the process of our thoughts and emotions. These are our human brains. If they cooperate, you are healthy. If not, lots of dissonance can happen.

Looking at the outside world, it's kinda like, there are two political parties that communicate with each other. If they cooperate there is health and vitality. If not, well lots of dissonance can happen.

But wait. There's more. A third brain is in the mix.

According to the NIH Microbiome Project, there is a third brain also discussed in Dr. Mayer's book, which can truly change how you view health and happiness.

Here are a few suggestions to stay healthy as you learn more about how to keep the brain-gut communication clear and balanced for a happier and more vital life:

                    * Eat a plant based diet. Veggies are really good for you.

                    * Do focusing exercises from Gendlin's book.

                    * Cut out sugar. Yes, you can do it.

                    * Meditate at least 20 minutes a day. It's not that long.

                    * Trust your gut when you have to make a decision.

                    * See your body-mind as a whole system.

You can now harness the power of the mind-gut connection to achieve optimum health that generates a more positive mindset. Take it to work, and take it home.

Now, all we have to do is get the Congress to see that cooperation is the way to success.

Published on: Dec 14, 2017
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