Digestive Intelligence

By Dr. Irina Matveikova

In Digestive Intelligence: A Holistic View of Your Second Brain, Dr. Irina Matveikova highlights what she describes as the two way relationship between our first brain, the one in our head and the second brain, the one in the gut……

I can assure you that the relationship between the two brains, which involves the hormonal, metabolic and emotional levels, is very complex and we could even call it “intellectual”; it is also normally quite democratic and mutually respectful.

Two–Way Emotional Influence
Here are some examples of how the upper brain influences our digestion and how our digestive behavior affects our thoughts and moods:

Digestive-Intelligence_OMTimes• A very tense emotional situation, or a state of terror or a traumatic event may make you vomit, or else provoke diarrhea or cause total indigestion.

• When you feel lonely, or frustrated sentimentally, or when your self-esteem has been destroyed, the psychological state you are in can influence your metabolism and the complex processes of digestion. This may cause lack of appetite, disgust, or indifference and a slow and troublesome digestion. More often this “chronic unhappiness” is expressed as a state of anxiety and compulsive behavior, with uncontrollable binge eating at critical moments, usually mid-afternoon and late at night. This compulsive and uncontrolled eating (especially carbohydrates) leads to a rapid release of hormones and chemical substances in both brains, which induce a temporary feeling of wellbeing and overall satisfaction. Shortly afterwards, however, this neuronal mechanism “runs out of steam,” the digestion breaks down and heaviness and bloating develop; the digestive system starts to groan and protest at this food abuse and this is accompanied by a guilty feeling. Your self-esteem reaches its lowest ebb and you begin to regret what you have done. At this point, many women decide to make themselves vomit.

Let’s follow with some more examples of how the two brains communicate with each other:

• A bout of diarrhea with episodes of colic and spasms (which may be the flaring-up of irritable bowel condition or gastroenteritis) prevents you from thinking clearly. It’s as if your irritability and sensitivity are turned up to maximum volume and you feel overcome by tiredness and exhaustion. This makes you bad-tempered and lowers your level of intellectual productivity.

• Constipation accompanied by bloating makes you feel that your life is “weighing you down” with its problems (and your stomach feels the same) and you lose all interest in social and physical activities. You may not believe me but chronic constipation can turn a person into a sarcastic pessimist, lowering the libido and limiting his sex life. Whatever the reason for the constipation it can lead to a lower level of serotonin (or a lower sensitivity to this hormone) produced by the neurons in the intestinal brain. This limits digestive muscular motility (the ability of the intestinal muscles to generate soft and regular movements and contractions, which mix and propel contents in the gastrointestinal tract) and this in turn triggers a lack of positive emotions. On the other hand, slow intestinal transit increases the toxic overload in our organism.

• A buildup of emotions in the guts is very common in women who are perfectionists and want to control everything; it’s as if the control center of their lives were in their intestines. This attitude generates particularly serious constipation that is resistant to classic treatments and remedies.

• Some people suppress their emotions and they are unable to express themselves; they do not know how to show affection and so they often experience an internal rebellion: episodes of profuse diarrhea, an irritable bowel, and over sensitized digestion.

• A good bowel movement in the morning, which leaves you feeling pleasantly light and clean, is a very good way to start the day. It puts you in a good mood, makes you feel full of energy and everything looks positive. I’m sure you agree.

• You wake up with a bad taste in your mouth, with no appetite and you can’t face having breakfast, your insides having been bunged up for days. You are too busy thinking of other things to clear yourself out and you rush out after a quick cup of coffee. The day doesn’t look very promising and certainly won’t leave you feeling good since you are already emotionally prepared for it to be a thoroughly grey day.

Our two brains are both masters. They engage, talk, sabotage, or reinforce each other.
It depends on the day and the emotional and digestive situation.
What kind of day will you decide to have?

Excerpted from: Digestive Intelligence: A Holistic View of Your Second Brain
By Dr. Irina Matveikova published by Findhorn Press (June 2014) www.findhornpress.com