Actually, Gravity Is Giving You Diarrhea
There are few bodily betrayals as cruel as irritable bowel syndrome, which affects approximately 10 to 15 percent of Americans. And while you always have to know where the nearest bathroom is, no one really understands what causes your stomach to turn on you in such a vicious way.
Over the years, scientists have proposed a few theories — e.g., serotonin imbalances, microbiome issues and nervous system problems — but now a much more out-of-this-world explanation can be added to the list: gravity.
“Our body systems are constantly pulled downward,” Brennan Spiegel, director of Health Services Research at Cedars-Sinai and author of the new hypothesis published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, explained via press release. “If these systems cannot manage the drag of gravity, then it can cause issues like pain, cramping, lightheadedness, sweating, rapid heartbeat and back issues — all symptoms seen with IBS. It can even contribute to bacterial overgrowth in the gut, a problem also linked to IBS.”
In his paper, Spiegel described how gravity tends to compress the spine and can decrease flexibility, as well as cause organs to shift. “The abdominal contents are heavy, like a sack of potatoes that we are destined to carry for our entire lives,” he added. (Particularly if you’ve just eaten a sack of potatoes.)
His point is, some people are more capable of carrying all those contents around, while others may be more sensitive to gravity and have intestines that droop down, or experience spinal issues that cause their abdomen to compress. And it’s possible that these shifts can cause issues with bowel motility and bacteria overgrowth.
Spiegel compared these gaps in gravity sensitivities to riding a rollercoaster. One person may have their hands up in the air and enjoy the drop, whereas another might be clenching their teeth out of an overriding sense of fear, something Spiegel referred to as “G-force vigilance.”
But before you start talking about your G-force number twos, Spiegel still has to prove his theory. He’s optimistic, though, that if confirmed, the explanation can work in conjunction with other purported causes for IBS, like serotonin imbalances. “Dysregulated serotonin may be a form of gravity failure,” he explained in the press release. “When serotonin biology is abnormal, people can develop IBS, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. These may be forms of gravity intolerance.”
In which case, we’ll at least have figured out the gravity of the situation.