Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain | Ruairi Robertson | TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica

Published 2015-12-07
"Have you ever had a gut feeling or butterflies in your stomach? Has hunger ever changed your mood? Our bellies and brains are physically and biochemically connected in a number of ways, meaning the state of our intestines can alter the way our brains work and behave, giving a whole new meaning to 'Food for thought'.

As a nutritionist, microbiologist and neuroscientist, Ruairi Robertson is passionate about the link between our bellies and brains. His research is examining how our intestines and the microbes within them can influence both physical and mental health, and most importantly how our diets influence this relationship. Ruairi has travelled the world researching food, and believes it is the key to global public health. Ruairi is a PhD student in University College Cork in Ireland and current Fulbright Scholar (2015/16) to Harvard University.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

All Comments (21)
  • "90% of Serotonin is produced in the intestine."
    This should be on billboards across the country.
  • @roysreceptive
    This is a just about as perfect a TED Talk as I've seen - Thoughtful, engaging, informative, timely.
  • I have watched 100 TED talks, including many of the "most downloaded," and I have to say this is my favorite so far. Brilliant speaker, good topic, authentic, no negatives.
  • @drums34
    Beyond being one of the best TED ever, this TED gives the answer of life. It tells to take care of your stomach so not drinking, eating well, sleeping well and more importantly HAVE A GOOD POSTURE. Because posture can block your diaphragm and we know that diaphragm massages the stomach. Take care of your body and enjoy your life
  • "...There is some food for thought."

    Not only is this guy a genius, suggesting a theory which could change the world...but an excellent writer as well.
  • @LucianaPinto
    Thank you so much Dr. Robertson! I’m not a doctor but however i’m really interested in relationship between food and health and you are just confirming my empirical idea about that 💚🙌🏻
  • I can definitely see how taking care of my gut health with my natural supplements, eating habits, and exercise has directly contributed to how I've felt, behaved, and and even thought these past five months. It's been an amazing journey and I feel like I'm just getting started!
  • @leeannmckenna
    This is great to hear. In the "natural foods" community, we have been saying this for years, but to have a member of the medical community saying it so eloquently will have a big influence on the general population. THANK YOU.
  • @anaderol5408
    Excellent. Thank you. Interesting and effectively communicated. It’s great to have academics who understand the importance of effective verbal delivery. His body language, his voice, his projection all contributed to keep the listener engaged and interested. As a sideline this guy should run workshops for other academics/scientists who have mastered how to put their audience to sleep.
  • @williamkz
    Excellent talk by Ruairi. One thing that seems relatively overlooked in the comments is the role of antibiotics. We are quick to demand antibiotics from our doctors and doctors are quick to prescribe them (maybe to avoid complaints or long conversations). But it is likely that the inordinate amount of inappropriate antibiotics that we consume is killing vital gut bacteria and having an adverse effect on our health.
  • Olá, sou brasileira. Consegui acompanhar a tradução direitinho. Amo esse assunto! Parabéns pela palestra.
  • I love this speech so much. I could... and have watched it over and over for hours. The subject and delivery are just wonderful.
  • @thecitizenjoan
    I agree with this 100% this supports the conclusion I've come to recently just in paying attention to how my moods have changed since I've become vegan. I notice when I eat junk food like mass produced pizzas and fried chicken I get in these really depressive moods and anything can tick me off, I also notice I get really depressed when I'm constipated. But since I've changed my diet I feel happier less irritable. I figured that my what I'm eating must affect my moods somehow, so happy YouTube suggested this to me.
  • @alcooper6186
    Thanks Ruairi for a great and informative presentation. Interestingly, Ayurveda, the South Asian form of medicine is also based on the intestines being one of the central points that requires attention for the prescribed medicine to have any positive effect. This definitely warrants further research.
  • I had to have a c section unfortunately. As I was aware of the microbiome I did a swab so that we could rub as much bacteria over our baby as possible. The hospital were totally against this as it was unheard of but we pushed it anyway and signed a waiver (just saying if anything went wrong it was on us). After that more of the Doctors and Nurses there actually looked into it and are now much more open minded for others who may want to do this in the future :)
  • @nellier5704
    Im glad I had the chance to listen to this talk. Since 2013 I have been suffering several diseases and I was diagnosed with a bacteria in my stomach that ruined my digestive system. I look foward to do what is possible to get my health in a better place. Thank you!
  • Absolutely agree with you based on self history !! Beautiful talk, thank you!
  • This is a wonderful presentation. Very well explained. Great combination between psychology and understanding food.
  • @LynnPierce
    I find the work that you're doing so exciting for health and longevity! You explain it in such clear terms. The brain in the gut is something I've been curious about for a while now. I'm going to use this video as a cornerstone in the ageless body section of my work in helping people have an ageless lifestye after 50. Is there a book you can recommend that focuses on a microbiome health enhancing way of eating?
  • @katiespeirs6005
    Wow, I feel like Ruairi just took all the thoughts in my brain and told a really important story far more eloquently than I ever could.