What do the French know about their gut? They don’t necessarily have a very precise idea of ​​their 2nd brain…


As part of this 6th edition of the MeatLab, the Charal brand, specializing in meat products, asked the OpinionWay Institute to set up a study on the relationship that the French have with their intestine, this famous second brain. So here are the main points.


We regularly hear that the gut is our 2e brain ; but ultimately, this fundamental organ is not so well known to the French. So what exactly is it? What role does our gut play in our diet and in our general well-being?

Does the intestinal microbiota make rain or shine on our plate and our mood? What role does the nutritional matrix of our food play on our well-being? What relationship do the French have with their gut? What place can mindfulness have in regulating our digestive and emotional well-being?

We all know that food is above all a basic need. We provide our body with the necessary elements (not always the right ones, by the way) for it to function properly! But eating is also one of the pleasures of life that impacts our physical as well as psychological well-being.

The composition of our plate is therefore a essential factor for our individual physical, psychic and emotional balance.

The French do not have a very precise idea of ​​what their second brain is: a little more than Only 6 out of 10 French people say they have ever heard of the idea that their gut is their second brain (Higher CSPs and IDF residents are more aware of this idea).

Without having a very clear idea of ​​what we put behind this notion:

  • 40% of French people do not know why it is called the 2nd brain;
  • 13% affirm that it is the reflection of our emotions (with a priority for negative emotions);
  • 7% believe that the intestine contains a lot of neurons;
  • 5% that it is the body’s second nervous system;
  • finally, 4% think that hunger directs our thoughts, our desires and our concentration.

Also according to this major survey, the two-thirds of our compatriots say they take good care of their second brain : a figure that rises to 73% for seniors over 65. And among those who take care of it, 38% say they make sure to eat a balanced/healthy diet, a small quarter (23%) pay attention to their diet, 8% eat a variety of foods and 8% eat vegetables.

For those who do not take good care of their intestine, and who assume it : 13% say they don’t pay attention to their diet, 12% don’t eat a balanced diet, 10% eat badly and 8% say they lack information on how to take care of it.

The link between diet and intestinal comfort is quite clear. In fact, according to this survey, for the French, several factors would guarantee good intestinal comfortsuch as good nutrition (86%), good hydration (69%), good sleep (69%) and good health (63%).

Next come, quite far, physical and mental well-being (47%), regular sporting activity (46%) as well as a limitation of alcohol, coffee and cigarettes (37%) and finally, relationships. positive social/family (27%).

A concept that seems to be acquired with age: thus, the 86% of French people who consider that a good diet is important for intestinal comfort break down into 78% among 18/24 year olds and rises to 93% among seniors! So there would be a learning of the intestine throughout life !

Indeed, over the years, we would become aware that there are a number of external factors that impact our intestinal comfort.

It is still a known subject because it concerns almost all French people. More than one in two French people report suffering from intestinal problems on a regular basisincluding 7% all the time, 17% often and a third from time to time and finally, 9% never.

These intestinal problems are generally resolved by modifying the diet for 44% of French people, by taking medicines sold without a prescription (16%) or food supplements (14%) or by consulting a doctor (10% ). They are a large third (35%) waiting for it to pass without doing anything in particular !

There is also a link between intestinal comfort and psyche quite obvious… but perfectible! Thereby, a large majority (88%) believe that intestinal problems can impact their emotional state. On the other hand, 12% think that it has no impact. The opposite is also true… A negative emotional state, such as stress, impacts digestive comfort for 58% of French people.

A wide range of intestinal problems

In detail, the French evoke a wide range of intestinal problems : they cite the problems of bloating for 20%, diarrhea for 20% also, abdominal pain for 19%, but also difficult digestion for 19%, stomach cramps for 19% and constipation for 14%.

Yet what happens between the head and the belly is not so clear. For example, thethe French do not have
unaware of the importance of devoting time to meals
… Thus, 71% of respondents eat while doing another activity, with more responses in this sense among those under 50 (96%), CSP+ (95¨%), residents of IDF and households with children . This practice is extremely rooted among active people in the broad sense of the term.

In addition, another surprising point: not only do these French people do an activity while eating, but most of them (47%) believe that it has no impact on their intestinal comfort. However, 43% would still be aware that this can have a negative impact!

We can conclude that there is a real ignorance around this phenomenon of eating while doing an activity underline the leaders of this study.

A less and less clear link between what we eat and our emotional state

Finally, when you no longer go through the “gut” box, there is less and less of a link between what you eat and the way you feel in your head. In fact, although the majority of French people believe that their diet affects their emotional state (81%), nearly 20% think it has no impact.

For the French, what impacts their mental well-being and their emotional state is primarily sleep (72%), the state of health (61%) and food in 3rd position (58%). Next, we find fatigue (52%), family relationships (42%), social relationships (34%), weather/seasons (31%) and finally work (28%).

Overall, for the most impacting factors – sleep, state of health, diet – there is no no major differences between women and men. However, women report that fatigue and family relationships have a much greater impact on their emotional state. Conversely, men cite sport and sexual relations more.

As for age, the state of health affects older people moreas well as family relationships, weather/seasons. The youngest, on the other hand, are rather impacted by work : 43% of 25/34 year olds and 46% of 35/49 year olds believe that work has an impact on their mental state.

Ultimately, the French make little connection between their emotions and their diet. Overall, positive emotions do not interfere with their eating. Indeed, 37% believe that a moment of joy does not change their appetite. And 43% say the same for love and 47% for fun.

When positive emotion affects eating, there is no no consensus: some French people speak of a greater appetite and, conversely, of lighter meals for others. However, negative emotions have a little more impact on food, without there being an established consensus either. Everyone reacts in their own way, but there is a more specific link with the way we eat.

In this spirit, some French people have cravings for comfort food, or to snack when others have a loss of appetite when they feel pain (53%), stress (43%) or anger ( 40%).

In terms of food, when the French want to boost their morale, we find everything that is easy to nibble on, to compensate for negative emotions:

  • Among the first choices of food consumed, we mainly find chocolate, sweet cakes, ice cream, savory cakes, confectionery and cold cuts.
  • Red meat is positioned in the middle, in 8th position.
  • Finally, we find yogurts, vegetables and fish in the first choices when the French want to do their body good!
  • When one wishes to do good to both, to the head and to the body, one finds the starches, the vegetables and the yogurts, as well as the red meat which rises among the privileged foods. It represents a good consensus for the French between “I do good for my head and my body”.

In the end and to conclude, the notion of 2nd brain is not obvious for the French. It is finally quite little known, and when asked to explain it, it is even a little more complicated. There’s not a very clear idea why it’s called that.

However, the link between food and digestive comfort is well understood by the French : what I eat affects how my stomach will react.

the link between digestive comfort and the psyche is pretty clear on paper, but not necessarily mastered when we go into detail. This is shown by the large percentage of French people who do another activity while eating.

Finally, the link between food and psyche is really not obvious for a large part of the French.

8 key takeaways

  • This has been shown: our brain and our intestine are intrinsically linked, and communicate with each other in a perpetual way.
  • The real links between our 2 brains are the nervous system for the chemical part (the vagus nerve, neurotransmitters…), and also food, for the rational and emotional part.
  • We note the importance of having a varied, quality diet that respects the nutritional matrix of the food to diversify and nourish its microbiota.
  • Fibers and proteins play a key role:
  • For health: meat, like vegetables, contributes to a good nutritional balance. Indeed, the microbiota of the intestine have the capacity to transform proteins and fibers into positive elements for health.
  • But also on well-being: studies confirm that diets rich in fiber and protein have anti-stress and anti-anxiety effects.
  • Finally, to be well in your head and in your body, the experts agree on the importance of a diet. That is to say: listening to yourself, eating mindfully and giving back its rightful place to pleasure.
  • To the question “who is the master on board”, it is probably a bit of both! At least, it is the synergy between this whole ecosystem that directs our food and vice versa.

Article published on 08/11/2022 at 01:00 | Read 46 times


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