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The Surprisingly Charming Science Of Your Gut | Giulia Enders

Ever wonder how we poop? Learn about the gut -- the system where digestion (and a whole lot more) happens -- as doctor and author Giulia Enders takes us inside the complex, fascinating science behind it, including its connection to mental health. It turns out, looking closer at something we might shy away from can leave us feeling more fearless and appreciative of ourselves.

Updated on May 17
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Key Smash Notes In This Episode

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Giulia Enders is a German doctor and author. In 2012, she won her first prize at the Science Slam in Berlin with her presentation, "Darm mit Charme" ("Charming Bowles”). Dr. Enders speaks about her scientific research on the gut and her three steps on why she loves this organ. She highlights the importance of our gut and how it has an impact on waste distribution and mental health. She dives deeper into the gut, the magician that’s working its magic that we are unaware of our body doing.

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After your food is done digesting, the leftovers from the digestion system get delivered to the inner sphincter. The inner sphincter opens in a reflex and lets a little bit of content through, for testing. Sensory cells analyze whether the content is a solid or gas, and pass that information to the brain. The brain analyzes the data, your surroundings, decides what to do and communicates with your nervous system to get it done (or to hold it for later).

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When you hear your stomach make noises, that is not because you are hungry. The small intestine takes time in-between digestion to clean itself, resulting in those 8 meters of gut to be very clean and hardly smell like anything. In order to achieve this cleanliness, the strong muscles move everything forward, and that is what sometimes makes a rumbling sound.

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The gut is the most important advisor for our brain because it is also our largest sensory organ, collecting information not only on the quality of our nutrients, but also on how our immune system and the hormones are doing. It packages this information and sends it to our brain. In fact, 90% of the nervous fibers that connect the gut and the brain, deliver information from our gut to our brain.

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During stressful situations, the brain will deliver a signal to our gut, and in turn the gut will try to take away less energy and blood flow from the body. This can go as far as nervous vomiting or nervous diarrhea to get rid of what it doesn’t want to digest.

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Studies have suggested that people get more allergies or autoimmune diseases when they grow up in a very clean environment. Being exposed to bacterial is actually good for us. In fact, 95% of all bacteria of the bacteria does not harm us, and our immune system needs the bad bacteria so it can learn what to be on the looking out for.

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