Today, we’re taking a moment to give appreciation for our gut, without which the benefits of cacao would never reach the rest of our bodies.
The stomach is an often overlooked organ when we talk about the benefits of cacao. Our gut is an organ that many other organs depend on to thrive, making its health fundamental to our quality of life. It supports hormone regulation, immune system functioning, and mood and mental health. 
Our gut is a microbiome of some 100 trillion bacteria, which collectively are called the gut microbiota. This microbiome is a flurry of activity, breaking down everything that we put into it and making it absorbable and useful for our body.
Sugar processing bacterias are one example of bacterias that will quickly out compete other, more beneficial bacteria in our gut. Our bodies prioritize making energy available quickly, and the energy in sugar is so readily available, but it can lead to quite the crash.
That’s WHY we recommend to drink ceremonial cacao unsweetened or minimally sweetened, and one reason why you won’t get anywhere near the same benefits from a dark chocolate bar as from pure cacao. Quite simply, you want the many bacteria that process cacao to have less competition! And the gut biome quickly shifts to favor sugar processing bacteria, so you won’t get that with anything sweeter than an 85% cacao.
We find it fascinating that the gut is in charge of producing 95% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps with our general sense of wellbeing. Have you ever had bad digestion, and felt really lousy? Serotonin is involved in mood regulation and has been linked to a sense of wellbeing and happiness. So if something is off in the gut that can very quickly impact our mood. Cacao has precursors for serotonin that the gut bacteria easily convert, resulting in high levels of serotonin in the brain.
Cacao also directly nourishes the gut with dietary fiber. A single one ounce serving of cacao gives 25%-35% of your daily fiber needs this way. Have you ever had a bowel movement shortly after drinking cacao? The fiber in the cacao helps with regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.
Next time you’re drinking your ceremonial cacao, take some time to notice how your stomach feels before, and after. All of our bodies are different, and benefits can vary from person to person, observation is key to knowing how cacao works with your own body. And however it is feeling, take a moment to appreciate your gut for the vital function that it serves!