Did you know your gut has a GPS?
If you’ve ever “trusted your gut,” then you may be on to something. Our minds and our guts are directly connected – a link that probably dates back to ancient times, when humans needed gut instinct to track and locate food while also escaping from danger.
Scientists continue to learn more about the gut-brain connection, including how the vagus nerve—which connects the brain and gut—is involved in memory.
Think about the best thing you’ve ever eaten: you likely can recall with vivid details the location of this meal, who you were with, and even certain smells from that time. Ancient humans needed this form of communication system to reliably ensure their food supply and survival.
Today, tapping into that same gut pheeling system (GPS) can help guide you when your body is experiencing stress or anxiety. Stress can worsen GI symptoms and, conversely, your gut can signal emotional reactions to your brain. Your gut reacts – such as with an upset stomach, painful cramping, and digestive difficulties – when it wants you to steer a different direction.
By becoming more aware of this GPS communication between your brain and gut, you can control your emotional distress and your GI symptoms. Strategies such as mindfulness meditation can help you to tune in to your gut feelings and focus on more positive emotions.
Imagine listening to your GPS when you’re feeling badly or experiencing uncomfortable emotions. By noticing (instead of ignoring) discomfort and embracing it with awareness, you’ll reduce those ancient human feelings that are causing your gut to go awry.
That very GPS that was once protective for our ancestors in dangerous situations, can indeed protect you today, too. You can learn to steer it and input your destination into awareness.