Why is the Gut so Important?

The gastrointestinal tract is technically outside the body. Similar to the way the skin protects the body from the external environment, so too does the lining of the intestinal tract, providing a barrier to everything that is ingested.

Because of a constant exposure to dietary antigens and microorganisms, the gastrointestinal tract maintains a steady local immune response, such that a continuous low-grade inflammation is a characteristic of the gut. In fact, approximately 70 percent of the body’s immune system is located in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. When the gut is in trouble, it is likely the immune system is as well.

Our bodies have a “second brain” called the enteric nervous system. The fact is that half of the body’s nerve cells are located in the gut and about 95 percent of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the gut. This is the reason chronic stress and our emotions play a central role in many physical disorders. Knowing this helps us to understand how digestive disorders and depression are intimately related. There should be no question about it; the gut is the foundation of good health.

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