How Your Body Works: A Day in the Life of Your Gut

One gabby gut shares how a bad day can affect your mood, your immunity, and, yes, your digestion.

By Hugh O'Neill from Reader's Digest Magazine | May 2013

day in the life of your gutFunny how a day can change so quickly. It started well: The Body had one of my favorite meals for breakfast—yogurt and oatmeal with blueberries. I’ll be running smoothly, if you know what I mean, thanks to the fiber in the oats and fruit. Even better, the yogurt is teeming with probiotics—live bacterial critters that help maintain my Gut Flora (GF), the amazing microbes inside me that help with digestion and immunity. When my GF are balanced and happy, The Body may be more likely to eat that who-knows-how-old Chinese food in the fridge without getting sick.

But more about that later. It’s only 8:30 a.m., and my optimism is fading on the morning commute. The Body remembers that late-night e-mail from her boss (“See me at 3:30 tomorrow.”) Hmm … doesn’t sound like a promotion. And the traffic is brutal! Time to say hello to stress chemicals like cortisol that can become my enemies when they are the constant background music of The Body’s demanding days. Hey, she gets a lot done, but I pay the price. When her stress hormones spike, her brain signals specialized cells in my lining to release inflammatory chemicals. These guys are useful if there’s actually an infection to fight. But when there’s no real threat, they cause muscle contractions that can make me bloated and irritated (hello, cramping and the need for the nearest bathroom). This can also kick The Body’s irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) into high gear. That means I have to deal with excruciating, stabbing pains. Fun, huh? Note to self: Strategize with the brain about ways to help The Body chill a bit. Yoga isn’t helpful if she checks her BlackBerry before every Downward Dog.

More: A Day in the Life of a Fat Cell »

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  • Your Comments

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    • http://www.facebook.com/quasi.quansah Quasi Quansah

      Brilliant piece…I got a few tips on avoiding those heart burns now