Ever get a gut feeling about something? Like, you shouldn’t go out to that party or step foot on that roller coaster? There’s a reason our culture uses the figure of speech gut feeling. Our gut—or belly region—can tell us a lot.
Our stomach is full of microbes, which are established and settled in when we hit the ripe old age of three. The microbes in your gut when you are a baby educate your immune system, priming it to know what to respond to. Each person’s response to infection, bacteria or viruses by the immune system is unique, much like a fingerprint. This living, thriving, working microscopic ecosystem accounts for an entire one to two pounds of our body weight. If our hands had 100 trillion microbial cells, maybe we’d get a “hand feeling” about something but we don’t, so we rely on our gut to act as a second brain and speak to us.
Nausea and vomiting can put a halt to anybody’s day. Typically, nausea and vomiting are caused by common disturbances to the digestive tract such as the stomach flu, food poisoning or the rotavirus. Non-direct digestive issues—including but not limited to motion sickness, morning sickness and migraines—can also contribute. However, prolonged nausea and vomiting can be a warning sign for certain medical conditions that require a trip to your gastroenterologist. Some of these conditions include Crohn’s disease, appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome or depression/anxiety.
Always uncomfortable but rarely serious, gas is mainly caused by the fermentation of undigested food in your colon. Unfortunately, nutritious high-fiber foods are often the main culprit. An episode of gas once and a while is not alarming, but if uncomfortable gas and bloating continue, your gut may be trying to tell you to alter your diet. Instead of consuming high quantities of fiber at once, try slowly implementing it into your diet and see if you find relief.
With a feeling like its name describes, heartburn starts at the base of the esophagus and works its way up. Burning in your chest that feels worse when bending or lying down is a common symptom associated with heartburn. Most of us will experience some level of heartburn after eating that fried, greasy, spicy chicken sandwich. However, if heartburn is occurring often and interfering with your daily life, your gut may just be telling you something. Slowing down at meal time in combination with simply not overeating will go a long way in eliminating heartburn. If this provides no relief, a trip to your gastroenterologist is recommended to rule out any ulcers, gallstones or celiac disease.