Is the Gut a Second Brain? You Bet It Is!

How many times you’ve heard, “Trust your gut, never go against your gut?” And maybe because you should “listen” to your gut, some people are wondering, “Is the gut a second brain?”

Well, if so – who is sending the signals? And what do we know about the gut anyway?

When I asked my teacher about this in the second grade, she told me that there was a friendly bug that lived inside my gut. She called it “Lucky Lacto.”

I guess that “Lucky” bug I should listen to?

And if you can talk to your gut, what would you ask?

Well, I’ve got an idea!

Is The Gut A Second Brain? Good BacteriaLet’s make Lucky Lacto a character and see if we can have an interview.

What would you like to know?

What does he do, and why do you need him? Or how to be friendly with him, and what happens if that “bug” is under the weather?

So, it’s Lucky time!


1. What Is Gut Bacteria? 

Ella: Well, Lucky, thank you for coming to our interview pit. I know you are very busy with your “gut” business.

First: to be correct, what is your name? Do you have brothers and sisters – I heard you have a big family, don’t you?

Lucky: “Lucky Lacto” is a nickname—Lucky for short—and my full name is “Lactobacillus.”

I have a HUGE family!

Do you know that you have more than 100 trillion microbes? (1)

They are my cousins who belong to hundreds of different strains. We might vary from person to person.

Some of my siblings are “Lactococcus” and “Lactobacillus Bifidus.” And we are the GOOD GUYS!

But there are others, not so good. Together they call us “gut flora,” “gut bacteria,” or “gut microbiome.” We are also so-called “resident microbes.” But it’s not the collection of us. It is also our genetic material and byproducts.

Is the Gut a Second Brain?

Ella: Where do you live?

Lucky: Everywhere in your gut. Have you heard of the gastrointestinal tract – GI for short? It is our permanent address.

Ella: What are parts of GI?

Lucky: GI is a long tube from the mouth down to your tushie. Stomach, small and large intestine, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are all parts of the digestive system. (2)

Ella: Why they call you “Lucky?”

Lucky: Because I have been blessed to live in a friendly family and friendly environment. My master—a human—treats me right, nourishes me with the right food, lets me rest and doesn’t make me jump through the hoop when he is stressed.

So, I eat well, I rest well, and I have a lot of fun! And because of this, I do my best to keep him healthy.

Gut Bacteria

2. The Gut and Brain Connection

Ella: What comes around goes around!

Since you and human work so well together, you probably can tell me why I hear an amazing question again and again, “Is the gut a second brain?”

Lucky: Yes, we are the second brain in a human body – it is the whole neural network in your gut working day and night. Just imagine that there are 100 million neurons there – more than in the spinal cord! They are spread throughout your digestive tract!

Do you remember how it feels when you have a “butterfly” in your stomach?

Ella: I played the cello, and when I was a kid I always(!) had a butterfly in my stomach before going on stage.

Lucky: Now you know why. It is a response when you are nervous or if there is something frightening – STRESS!

The difference is that “gut” per se doesn’t make you do anything directly.


We communicate with each other by sending the neuro signals as a reflection of everything that is going on. And where do you think those signals go?


Yes! We “talk” to your first brain, and this is how indirectly we affect your mood, how you feel, and maybe correct your behavior. That’s why they call the gut a second brain.

The brain also communicates with the gut through the nervous system so that they both “talk.”(3)

But! You, for example, do you always listen to your gut?

Is the Gut a Second Brain?

3. What Does the Gut Do?

Ella: Unbelievable! I didn’t know that. You communicate on a neuro level!

If you—the gut flora or gut microbiome—is so enormous and powerful, let’s cover the basics: what does the gut do actually and why do we need you?

Lucky: In a nutshell, we process the food—firm, and liquid—from start to finish. (4)


We don’t just “process” whatever! We work hand-in-hand with millions of immune cells, and if something doesn’t pass the “smell test,” they are ready to fight.

So, we deal with toxins and if need to – we correct your immune system. We also absorb nutrients so that you have all the essential elements and be healthy!

Ella: Heck of the resume!

Lucky: Guess what? There is more.

We are not along. As I have mentioned earlier, there are also the BAD GUYS. And we are here to protect you against foreign invaders—viruses, harmful microbes, and bacteria.

Your body should immediately respond to infection. Right?

Well, we are part of this process because we communicate with immune cells.

Is the Gut a Second Brain? Immune System Attacks Virus

You are fortunate that we are very “territorial” and protect your intestines from foreign invasion. It is OUR HOME!

Of course, if you ask a question, “What does the gut do,” – it is logical that one type of bacteria doesn’t do everything. Each of us, as a part of your gut flora, have a specific job.

So, Ella, now my question is to you: knowing who we are and what we do, would you like to keep us happy?

Ella: You bet!

4. Chronic Gut Inflammation. Am I in Danger?

Ella: Back to the gut and immune system. I read that around 80% of all immune cells are in the gut. Is it true? (6)

Lucky: Yes! And your body badly needed. Why?

You, people, behave like monsters sometimes, or even worse–eating tons of sugar, processed, and high-fat food. Also, you overeat. Well, WE DON’T NEED IT!


You have unabsorbed carbs and protein fermenting in your colon. Yuck!

As for sugar–artificial sweeteners especially–they negatively affect your gut microbiome and can cause a tsunami of health problems. (7)

After that, we groan. Are you listening?

How about cramping, bloating, constipation, and what else we can add on a plate of your “gut” problems?

Abdominal Pain

Are you paying attention now? But it’s only half of the problem.

Ella: Wow! What is another half?

Lucky: Since we talk about the immune system, can you remind me what is inflammation?

Ella: Protective reaction of the immune system?

Lucky: You are correct.

Inflammation is a good thing in a small dosage, but here it is a different story.

Imagine you eat lots of sugary stuff. Harmful bacteria thrive on sugar.

Well, they end up in your intestines and then, either through dietary fat or “loose” intestines walls, – in your bloodstream. In turn, this alerts the immune cells which are ready to “attack.”

What happens when it happens over and over?

You have UNRESOLVED INFLAMMATION – the inflammation on the top of another inflammation. Well, here you have it – possible SYSTEMATIC or CHRONIC INFMALATION.

Why might it be dangerous?

Because it might be a potential beginning of some chronic diseases.

Of course, the medical community still doesn’t understand fully how the gut flora affects your mood, behavior, regulates your immune system and affects inflammation. (8)


Chronic Inflammation

5. Repair Gut Bacteria With Right Food

Ella: Scary!

Well, Lucky, it seems that if I don’t keep you and your siblings happy – I am in big trouble. What can I do?

Lucky: First, feed us the right food!

If you don’t, you might get an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut which continues triggering more inflammation.

Ella: it’s like a chain.

Lucky: I’d say better – it’s more like a dangerous nuclear chain reaction with unintended harmful consequences—weight disbalance, chronic fatigue, food allergies, unhealthy cravings and tons of other problems.

So, be wise and be careful.

Ella: I guess we must have a plan. Yes?

Lucky: Music to my ears!

Well, if you plan right, you never can go wrong. Let’s breeze through.

Since most humans have damaged gut flora, you should eat food to help us repair and grow.

What to choose?

  • We love FIBER food—it makes everything moving! And if you want to keep us healthy, give us plenty of it – fruits, vegetables, and legumes. We also love buckwheat.
  • How about foods with a high content of COLLAGEN, like a bone broth? We need amino acids.Fermented Foods
  • FERMENTED FOODS are also our friend – yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha have live probiotics, which will improve and support your gut health and possibly reduce inflammation. Good enough reason? (9)
  • PREBIOTIC FOODS like garlic, onions, leeks, dandelion greens can be beneficial for good gut flora. (10)
  • We love WATER—without it, food cannot move and you will have slow digestion! Keep hydrating!
  • Slow down on sugary stuff. You know why – it kicks in the inflammation.

Also, when you put something in your mouth, remember that each of us has its job to do. So, be smart and choose VARIETY that there is something for everybody!

Cherish us and give us tender and loving care!

6. Lifestyle Changes for Healthy Gut

Ella: TLC… Great point. What else?

LuckyI like it when you are exercising.

How about hula hooping and using a rebounder, for example? It gives me plenty of movement, makes digestion easier and keep moving your lymph fluids.

But I also like it when you are calm and have plenty of rest and sleep. Remember: your lifestyle options directly affect your gut. (11)

Did I forget enjoying life, smiling, and having fun?

Ella: Wow! So much to consider but common sense.

Lucky: The last thing – there will be a lot of trying. Please don’t act silly and don’t deviate. After all, it is YOUR BODY and YOUR HEALTH!

Ella: It is obvious now – GO WITH YOUR GUT!

Food for Good Digesting

Conclusion: Happy Gut – Happy You! 

… Lucky left to continue its gut business.

My idea of a fun and informative interview came to fruition. I hope you liked it.

Well, are you lucky we have Lucky?

Please remember his advice: keep your gut happy and it will pay ten folds.


If your gut is not well, you will feel it.

Lucky is very intelligent and communicates with his siblings–gut bacteria–and immune cells. Where do those neuro signals go?

Right to your brain!

Of course, more research is needed about how the gut-brain connection works. (12)

Directly your gut microbiome doesn’t make you do anything. Still, it affects your mood, behavior, and happiness.

So, eat right, cut daily sugary “pleasures,” drink plenty of water, have enough sleep, move and remember – you are not alone!

Would you rather have friends or enemies? Would you want a roaring gut or a happy gut?

And if you are still wondering, “Is the gut a second brain,” remember it next time you will hear, “You should listen to your gut.”


Happy Tuning in!

Trust Your Gut

I invite you to enlighten us with your thoughts. Leave them below.


Founder of Detox Generation

Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed on this site are solely those of the author. All content, including text, images, and other formats, is for information purposes only. The author is not a medical professional, dietitian or integrative treatment specialist. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health specialists with any questions you may have.

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  • Interesting question to consider, is the gut a second brain. I guess when we’re pondering the idea of going with one’s gut you could say that the gut trumps the brain, should the outcome become favorable at a high percentage. I really like your creativity with this post and how you put it all into context through dialogue. People often forget that there is good and bad bacteria so this is a nice reminder. I agree that maintaining a healthy gut is all about eating the right food. Ultimately we must trust our gut instinct when it comes to monitoring our health. Thank you for another insightful post!

    • Hello!

      It is my pleasure talking to you again. Thank you!

      Yes, you are correct – sometimes gut “trumps the brain.” And this can bring conflict. But in a lot of cases, our “following the gut” is selective and often put us in trouble. Literally. The gut is our bacteria flora–good and bad. And when we don’t listen and through our actions–diet, lack of exercise, stress–inflate good bacteria, we “kill” it. Well, the bad chain reaction is imminent! Unfortunately…

      Well, “listening” to our gut should be our #1 priority even if it’s uncomfortable. Life gave us only one(!) body!

      I sincerely appreciate your comment and your kind words. The twist in my post was precisely to make you read easier. I hope it worked.


  • I really like your post on the Gut! I never knew that the gut did so many things to keep the body healthy! I never knew that your gut can also have an effect on your mood!

    Lol ” going with your gut !” makes sense to me now. Tell me is a colonoscopy a part of inspecting the Gut? If it is, then by reading your article I see why my gastroenterologist recommends getting a colonoscopy every 5 years! 

    Your animated visuals made the subject a lot clearer and fun

    • Hi, Robert!

      The reason I play with images and always think about the storyline is that there are so many informative but boring posts out there! When I read them, I either “press” myself to get through or I am of the page on a third sentence. They are dry and not engaging. 

      Well, I am glad that my post made a mark and you might remember some highlights. That was my goal.

      Yes, colonoscopy by default inspect your colon which, as you know now, is a part of your gut. So, keep it in tip-top shape.

      Cheers and stay tuned!

  • A very interesting article Ella. 

    Some years ago I suffered from Lactose Intolerance and to this day I remember the excruciating gut pains I experienced. My doctor told me there was no treatment for the ailment, so I explored nutrition and in doing so found a solution and to this day I’m still free of the problem.

    The whole episode taught me the importance of eating properly and as you correctly pointed out water is also vitally important otherwise the whole system get clogged up.

    The role play method you used in your article as well as the vibrant art work made it very readable and my hope is a lot of people will be impacted by it and as a result seriously consider what they are putting into their bodies.

    Thank you for a wonderful article.


    • Hello, Chris!

      So fantastic that you have been pain-free for years. Good for you!

      As I always say that even though doctors try to help, nobody knows your body as you do. Each of us must be a strong voice for our health and wellness. But! Another my favorite phrase, “With the title come responsibilities!”

      Our responsibilities are to treat our body RIGHT! Unfortunately, for a lot of people what exist is immediate pleasure. Then – they suffer. For me, pleasure is to be healthy, at least to a certain extent.

      Please continue “listen” to your gut, eat right, drink plenty of water and RESPECT YOUR GUT FLORA!

      Good luck and thank you for your kind words. I sincerely appreciate it.

      Stay tuned!

  • I really love your site.

    I believe the gut is connected to lots of issues on our bodies.

    I am also a fan of CBD, although we can’t’ get it in NZ unless you can find a Dr that will prescribe it, which I have found, of course, costs a lot.  However, I am passionate about it and know that for me it will be of so much benefit.

    I think everybody should be taking probiotics daily, if anything to keep their gut healthy but to also prepare their gut for when Drs prescribe them antibiotics (i am not a fan myself of antibiotics/chemicals).

    I have really enjoyed the way you write Ella, and really appreciate the information you have here.


    • Dear Daisy!

      You have read a few of my posts, not only an interview with Lucky Lacto. Wow! I am impressed that you have pocked around and checked my latest post “What Is the Benefit of CBD Oil?” It shows that you are curious and this is great!

      Speaking of the gut, most people I know DO NOT pay enough attention to it. And this is sad. 

      It seems that you are on the right path regarding your health and wellness and this makes me very glad. Let’s stay healthy, take probiotics and keep Lucky Lacto HAPPY!

      Thank you very much!

      Please stop by again. I enjoy reading your comment.


  • Would I call this awesome? that would be an under statement. Wow! I live the presentation format used in this article, it makes it more interesting and exciting to read about. You have given full overview into the concept of gut. I never knew this much about guts. The only thing I knew before hand concerning guts was just that it is a feeling and I never knew it spans through all these in the parts of the body. It is truthfully worthy of being kept happy because it seems to be an integral factor in our daily living. Great post!

    • Hi, RoDarrick!

      I am so happy that the post was easy and interesting to read. That is why I chose the format of dialogue. My goal to write about wellness, detox and overall health in relevant but easy and “light” format. This is challenging but exciting. Thank you for your praise. I sincerely appreciate it.

      Yes, the gut is a big system consisting of many organs and affecting the whole body. People should be very careful if their Lucky Lacto is not “lucky.” You know that the consequences can be devastating! So, treat it with respect and remember – WE ARE NOT ALONE! Your gut worth attention and love. Let’s do it!

      Thank you for your input. I am very grateful.

      Kind regards and always – stay healthy!

  • Thank you for a comical yet very informative explanation of the operation of the gut and the importance of working for balance in the bacteria. I am always challenged by my gut. I take long to digest food, and if I don’t eat at my regular times, I have so much pain. It’s like my gut rules me. What I am getting from your article is that maybe I need to try regular supplements of probiotics because I need to aim for that balance. This has been a good reminder

    • Hello, JJ!

      How are you? How is your gut now?

      Yes, gut balance is crucially important since our bacteria flora include good and bad guys. We cannot afford to let the bad guys off the leash! If we do, buckle up your seat belt: it can wreak havoc in your body. Very bad…

      Well, probiotics are to the rescue! Please read my post “Gut and Health. Who Makes Best Probiotic?” I am sure it will help with some additional information.

      Anyways, thank you, JJ, for stopping by. I would love to see you again.

      Good Health!

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