You and Your Gut Brain

by Liz Colville

Nestle, maker of chocolate chips and other things, is trying to come up with a type of food that speaks to our “gut brain,” the figurative noggin, otherwise known as the enteric nervous system, that exists in our belly area and tells us when we are hungry and what for (vegan nachos with nut “cheese” and nut “beans,” bien sur!) Writes the Wall Street Journal, the gut brain “is made up of some 500 million nerve cells, as many as there are in a cat’s brain.”

This large, large, global food company is for some reason interested in helping us stop eating, in much the same way certain diet supplements — Slim Fast, Alli, the whole of the Atkins method — try to make us “feel full,” and for longer. Danone actually tried this too, with a product called Light & Fit Crave Control, jesus, but they took it off the market because it tasted like crud, which they fully admitted.

So Nestle has built a “million-dollar model of the human gut” to try to better understand how digestion and the gut brain work, and:

The machine is about the size of a large refrigerator.

The front of it is made of glass, allowing the scientists to observe substances as they wind their way down and out of the refrigerator/cat brain/person, or just sit there forever, like melted cheese tends to do.

Here’s where things become weird: scientists think that the earliest creatures actually had gut brains before they had any other kind of brain. They developed actual brains because:

…higher animals needed more brain power in order to seek out food and sex.

“Seek out sex.” Well, yes, that really is all this is. So we must have a third brain, too — groin brain?