We All Have A 'Second Brain' In Our Stomachs, Scientists Just Discovered

by Talia Koren
Andrijana Kostova

Ever think about why you feel so happy when you're eating your favorite food?

While munching on goodies is usually enough to put a smile on your face, there's actually more at play when it comes to how you feel and what's going on with your stomach.

New research backs up the idea that people have a "second brain" in their stomach that manages way more functions in the body than you know.

This second brain is a cluster of nerves in the gut called the enteric nervous system (ENS). I've never heard of it before, but it turns out, it's actually pretty important.

A recent video from ASAP Science breaks down how the second brain is responsible for controlling your digestive system. Strangely enough, your stomach is directly connected to your emotions.

For example, serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones in the body, are mostly made by bacteria in the gut. Maybe that's why they say the way to someone's heart is through their stomach...

But happy feelings aren't the only ones that originate in the ENS.

This research explains why you have no appetite when you're sad or dreading something, and also why you feel like you need to go to the bathroom when you're nervous.

These findings also indicate there's a connection between mental health issues like depression and an inadequate amount of healthy gut bacteria. This is big because scientists could possibly find a way to create new treatment options for those struggling with mental illness by treating the gut.

It's all connected, people.

With most body functions, such as breathing, your brain is in the driver's seat, signaling the body what to do. But in this case, the ENS actually sends signals to the brain telling it what the body needs.

ASAP Science's video says 80 to 90 percent of the nerve fibers from the ENS are sent from the gut to the brain, meaning while the brain is in charge of controlling all of your bodily functions, the second brain has the power to tell the brain what some of those functions should be.

The second brain could even function completely on its own, if need be.

The research also talks about microbes, which are little organisms living in your gut. Like I said before, most of the feel-good hormones the body produces come from your stomach. And it's all thanks to these microbes.

The microbes communicate with your brain to tell it what it wants more of. You can imagine how this plays a huge part in what you crave.

Microbes signal the brain for more of what keeps them alive, so if the microbes in your gut live off of the nutrients in ice cream, guess what you're naturally going to crave? You guessed it: ice cream.

But if that is the case and you stopped eating ice cream, those microbes would die off and you would stop craving it.

You know that saying, "You are what you eat"? Well, as it turns out, you actually are what your microbes eat.

Next time you feel really happy or kind of anxious, listen your stomach. What you eat and how your stomach reacts could be a major clue as to why you're feeling a certain way.

Citations: Scientists believe we might have a second brain in our bellies (Cosmopolitan)