PSYCHOLOGY OF OUR PHYSIOLOGYThe Mind in your Gut- Your Gut Brain Axis

The Mind in your Gut- Your Gut Brain Axis

The Mind in your Gut

Functional Nutrition looks at the powerful intersection between food, physiology and psychology. It is truly mind body nutrition. It is the area where everything is interconnected. Our food, our body and our mind. True Mind Body Nutrition is who we are after the food we eat

Where did your Gut originate from?

Someone recently told me that he thought food was important for health but he didn’t believe that it could influence who we are. That’s when I thought I had to write about this before anything else.

Have you ever watched the movie The Parent Trap? Identical twins Hallie and Annie are separated after their parents divorce. Years later, they discover each other at a summer camp.  Hallie and Annie, after fighting and being sentenced to isolation until camp is over, discover that they are twin sisters, who cannot naturally hate each other, as much as they tried. The story goes through them switching places and living each other’s lives with the opposite parent and finally bringing the parents back together, for Hallie and Annie belong together. They’ve discovered in the short while of knowing that they are identical, what upsets one upsets the other, and that they want the best for each other no matter what.

Your gut and your brain are like Hallie and Annie, separated at some point, but identical, and eventually realise that what upsets one upsets the other, or from another perspective, what supports one benefits the other as well!

In early Embryonic stages, the same clump of tissue is the root of your gut and your brain. As the embryo evolves and grows, the brain goes towards the crown and the gut moves to the centre. This doesn’t mean that they are not connected after that. Your brain and your gut are connected via the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve is called the Wanderer, and for no small reason, as it wanders through your body, reaching many areas, and controlling a great deal. 

Since your brain and your gut originated from that same clump of tissue, their root is deeply similar. Your brain is then the primary brain and your gut is your secondary brain! Your brain houses the control centre of your nervous system, and your gut is your Enteric nervous system. It has a mind which is profound.

The Vagus nerve connecting the two, creates the deep gut-brain axis. Your Enteric nervous system is located in the tissue around your esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. It controls your entire gastrointestinal function. But this is no small role. 

Being connected to the brain via the Vagus nerve, which is a super highway, how your gut feels impacts your brain, and how your brain feels impacts your gut. This can be both good and bad. This of course means that when you feel angry or depressed, you either cannot eat or your digestion is impaired, and if your digestion is impaired you feel anxious or depressed. But we forget. This also means we have great power. And in the words from Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. 

If we eat responsibly, we have the power in our hands to feel calm, happy and balanced, initiating a powerful mind that works and supports us towards greater goals. If we don’t eat nurturing and nutrition rich food, we can actually harm our gut, and harm our minds. This can make us feel everything from pain to overwhelm, sadness to anger, dejection to exhaustion.

This confirms the Bidirectional movement of the gut brain axis, and explains the psychology of both via the Vagus nerve connection.

Psychology of our physiology looks deep within the space of the mind that exists in our body, and how we can deeply create powerful change using the principles and practices of Functional Nutrition.

Exploring the psychology of our Gut

Creating change through therapeutic food

Your gut and your brain are like Identical twins really. When one gets disturbed so does the other. Remember that feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you have an impending public talk or when a loved one is terribly sick? Remember when you have lunch after a disturbing argument with someone, how you either have a runny tummy or pain afterwards? 

If you explore almost every culture and tradition, prayer before meals was a big part of a family’s lifestyle. Christian homes thanked God for the food they were about to receive. Muslims prayed and their prayer physiologically soothed digestion. Hindus looked at food as part of something greater.

And those who were not religious, spent a moment smelling the wonderful aroma of the food, and really worshipped the flavour.  This sight and smell of food stimulated a nerve impulse that went right upto the Hypothalamus in the brain, which stimulated the Medulla Oblongata, travelled down the Vagus nerve and stimulated more saliva, so the digestive system was ready to receive food. All of these extra few moments spent before a meal, were potent and powerful tools to calm the brain and nurture the gut. That few seconds more gave time to activate digestion. 

So finding an affirmation that works for you personally is a powerful tool for your gut. It need not be prayer. If it is a prayer which is a crutch for you personally, then that’s great. If not try this affirmation…

 “My body heals and strengthens with every bite I take.”

This is a prayer to you. To your gut. To your brain.

So begin to nurture your gut. Understand the psychology of your gut. Know that your gut has a mind. Know that your gut controls your brain and your brain controls your gut. Both are equal partners, and for a truly beneficial relationship, both have to be taken care of equally. 

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind clear and strong

― Buddha


  • Shyam nair

    Dear deepa, An inightful way to picture the gut brain connection . Wonderful work. Keep it up and give it up to the world.

    • Deepa Kannan

      I'm sure Hallie and Annie will help keep it in everyone's mind:-)

  • Uma

    Informative article Deepa ! Thanks :-)

    • Deepa Kannan

      Pleasure Uma! So glad you found that interesting!

  • Aarthi

    Very informative, Deepa. Thanks. :)

  • Dr Sita Bhatt

    Loved the prayer ! So true ... my body celebrates the health I give it through mindful eating. Thanks Dee!

  • Griffith

    Thanks for this wonderful insight Deepa. Confirms a lot of my beliefs. And gives great credence to the old adage "You are what you eat".

  • Rupa Sharat Kumar

    Bang on ! Recent research indicates the same with children with Autism. 90% of children diagnosed with Autism have severe gut issues. I have personally witnessed children recover considerably when their gut issues are addressed.

  • Jackie Cook

    This is a very enlightening article. It's changes the way I think about food. Thanks Deepa!

  • Dwarak Ethiraj

    Good article indeed and will try your recipe soon, However, we have tried various brands of readymade Gluten free flour with little success at Roties and consequently forced to settle for Parata (stuffed type). Any suggestions on the techniques of getting pulkas right?

    • Deepa Kannan

      Yes most of the readymade gluten free flours drive us mad! Try this combination and see. It works really well to roll. I'll also share another combination which comes for phulkas soon. And we have made parathas with this. Try it out and see

  • Bhavna Kaushik

    such an enlightening post.

Comments are closed.

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Book Acquisition by HarperCollins India

Here’s that exciting news I spoke about to coincide with the one year anniversary of The Sleep Whisperer Podcast! Writing a book and becoming part of that magical group of authors is a dream!

Three years ago I wrote a book which I titled Sleep Whisperer, looking at sleep from a very in depth perspective, and tying together the cutting-edge science of functional medicine and eastern ancient wisdom. The story of how I wrote that book is indeed magical and a mixture of spiritual guidance and astrology(by my spiritual guide and mentor Shyam @himalayan.yogi ). It’s also been a lot of sacrifice and hard work during times that were stressful, challenging and testing in all ways.

The journey of the book from concept to acquisition is also a magical path which I will share much later. For now, I’m just humbled, grateful and quite simply excited to announce that the book has been acquired by Sonal Nerurkar @sonal_nerurkar of @harpercollinsin HarperCollins India! Sonal’s faith in the book has been unwavering and I’ll forever be grateful for it. I can’t wait for the final book release next year!

None of this would be possible without the trust, hard work, dedication and patience of my most beautifully warm literary agent Jayapriya Vasudevan @jayapriyavasudevan of Jacaranda Literary Agency. I cannot put into words what her belief in the book and being my warrior for it means to me.

I’m also deeply grateful for the dear colleagues and mentors who have made contributions to the book. That is a surprise for later! You can follow everything about the sleep podcast and book at @mysleepwhisperer

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