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Here’s Basically Everything You Need To Know About Your Gut

Gut check!

A healthy gut starts with a healthy mouth (and vice versa!)

As the beginning of your gastrointestinal tract, your mouth — like the front door of a new restaurant on your block — is a good indicator of what the inside of your body is going to look like.

Basically, if you do what your dentist tells you to do (eat healthy, brush, floss, etc.), it will make your doctor happy. AND if you do what your doctor tells you to do (eat healthy, exercise, etc.), it will make your dentist very happy, because a healthy gut leads to a decrease in cavities!

Your esophagus is strong...yet sensitive.

Your esophagus isn’t just a wet tube that connects your mouth and tummy — it’s actually a complex set of contracting muscles that helps move food from your pharynx to your stomach (through a process called peristalsis).

Thanks to a ring of muscles called the lower esophageal sphincter, acid from your stomach and bits of partially digested food are prevented from entering your esophagus — which is good, considering stomach acid can essentially melt a razor blade.

The stomach gets all the hype but does the least work.

While the stomach is the clear breakout star of your digestive tract, it wouldn’t be anything without its supporting cast. The stomach’s main job is just to break down proteins and erode harmful bacteria with its acid (we know, pretty heavy metal, right?) before moving along the liquidy mass of semi-broken-down food (aka chyme) to the small intestine (which actually does most of the digesting and the absorbing of nutrients).

The downside? Stomach acid also kills 90–95% of probiotics in the stomach passage when you eat fermented foods like yogurt or take probiotic supplements. That’s why you need to make sure you take a probiotic designed to survive your tummy.

The small intestine sorts the good, the bad, and the ugly.

As we said before, the small intestine’s job is to digest nutrients and absorb them into your bloodstream. But it also keeps out the bad stuff! The gastrointestinal tract is lined with mucosa, which is responsible for soaking up the good and, at the same time, keeps harmful things like waste and bacteria from entering your bloodstream.

Additionally, even when there’s no food in your gut, the muscles in your small intestine go through a cycle that consists of multiple phases (the first being no contractions at all and the latter ranging from mild to strong contractions) every 90 to 120 minutes just to make sure you’re out with the bad and in with the good.

Last stop: the large intestine.

Before traveling to your rectum and anus (and then from there to the toilet and worlds unknown), that nasty chyme stuff makes one last quick stop in the large intestine. Affectionately known as the colon, your large intestine is responsible for the essential role of absorbing water/electrolytes into your bloodstream and for storing feces, an equally important doodie...erm, duty.

The colon is also home to trillions — yes, trillions with a T — of bacteria. These can be good, bad, or neutral and go a long way to support your overall health.

Having a “gut feeling” is real! And it can really affect your mental health.

So, scientifically speaking, listening to your “gut” might actually be a thing. Inside your digestive system lives a tiny brain called the enteric nervous system (ENS), featuring more than 100 million neurons that run from esophagus to rectum.

Creepy, right? Don’t worry; your tummy won’t ever take over as host Body Snatchers–style. According to Jay Pasricha, MD, “The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it” but instead “communicates back and forth with our big brain — with profound results.” Research also suggests that those good guys in your gut, probiotics, may actually play a role in this communication back and forth — cool, huh?

And although managing digestion is one of this tiny brain’s main jobs, it can also trigger changes in mood, stress, or even memory. Approximately 95% of your body’s happiness-inducing serotonin is produced in the gut, which is why a high percentage of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome may develop problems with depression or anxiety.

A healthy gut means getting sick less often.

Are you one of those people who are seemingly sick all the time? It might be because your gut needs some TLC. In fact, 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Additionally, it’s where 80% of plasma cells that create Immunoglobulin A (an antibody that is crucial for your immune system). So be nice to your gut, and your gut will save you a couple sick days.

The state of your gut can seriously affect you during your period.

A study by BMC Women’s Health has concluded that “emotional symptoms occurring in conjunction with GI symptoms are common perimenstrually, and as such may reflect shared underlying processes that intersect brain, gut, and hormonal pathways.”

Basically what this means is that while gut problems can increase menses-related symptoms, keeping your gut healthy can alleviate such symptoms.

Gut health is super important for your kids’ development.

For you parents out there, it’s especially important that your kids have a healthy gut in the early stages of development. One study in gastroenterology journal Gut has shown that a bad composition of microbes in a child’s gut early on can have negative effects on their immune system, potentially causing manifestations such as allergies.

The status of a child’s gut also affects their mental health and even personality. Lisa Christian, PhD, a researcher with Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and microbiologist Michael Baily, PhD, studied the stool of 77 girls and boys and discovered a correlation between diverse gut bacteria in the intestine and positive personality traits such as positivity and outgoingness. No wonder kids get “hangry” when they haven’t eaten!

So, as you can see, gut care isn’t just concerned with how well you poop.

The more we learn about our guts, the more science is telling us it’s a vital part of our physical and mental well-being!

Animation by William Smith / © BuzzFeed

Now that you know EVERYTHING about your gut, here’s how to make it happy — combination of a probiotic-rich diet and taking probiotic supplements like RenewLife Probiotics.