The Importance of Gut Health

It is becoming more common knowledge that the gut and the trillions of microbes that call it home have significant effect on our health from our digestive system to our mood and it even has a say in who we are attracted to. What first comes to mind when we think of the gut is the digestive system breaking down food to provide us nutrients and energy. This process starts in the mouth, through the stomach and into the intestines breaking our food down to a basic form that reaches the circulatory system. This system is a very complicated one and isn’t as straight forward as it sounds. The human microbiota is composed of billions of cells, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. The largest species of microbes live in the intestine and are responsible for maintaining good gut health. The body and your microbes work intelligently for this to happen smoothly and this can only be achieved for a balanced digestive system. Healthy intestines contain beneficial bacteria and lymphocytes that resist pathogenic bacteria, viruses as well as fungi. However there are times where it may not be running smoothly and your body has ways of telling you when it is and it isn’t.

Indicators of Poor Gut Health

We all have stomach issues at some stage, such as stomach pain, bloating, loose stools, indigestion, acid reflux, nausea or vomiting. If complications remain, this may be an indication of an internal condition that requires medical treatment.

Weight loss without any cause, blood in the faeces, black excrement, excessive vomiting, diarrhea, extreme stomach pains, difficulties swallowing food, pain in the mouth or chest as food is eaten may possibly signify a significant gastrointestinal condition. Speak to a doctor if you have any of these signs.

How can we help our Gut?

A healthy gastrointestinal tract interacts with the brain via nerves and hormones that help sustain overall health and well-being so it is essential to look after your gut. Did you know most of our ceratonin (happy hormone) is produced in the gut?

The following points must be kept in mind for having good gut health:

●     Consume a Vast Variety of Food

There are hundreds of bacterial organisms in the intestines. Every one of these species has a significant role in your health maintenance, requiring different nutrients for development. Practically speaking, a balanced microbiota is called a safe microbiota. This is because the gut microbiota you have, the more medical benefits they will provide. A diet composed of various food types can contribute to a wide range of microbiota.

●     Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake

Fruits and veggies are the main foods for a balanced microbiota. They are rich in fiber and can’t be metabolized by the body. That being said, several bacteria in your intestine can be digested by fiber, which promotes their development.

Beans and pulses also consist of very high quantities of fiber. Apples, parsnips, strawberries, peanuts and pistachios have also been found to improve human Bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria are deemed helpful bacteria as they can help reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and improve the health of the intestines.

●     Intake of Fermented Food

Fermented foods are the products that have been fermented by microbiota. The fermentation process typically consists of bacteria or yeasts that turn sugars in food into organic acids or alcohol. Good examples of fermented foods include Greek yogurt, kefir, tempeh and kimchi. Some yogurt items can also decrease the concentration of some disease-causing bacteria in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease.

●     Reduce the Intake of Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are usually utilized as sugar substitutes. That being said, several experiments have also shown that they may have a harmful effect on the intestinal microbiota. It has been shown that improvements in the microbiota created by artificial sweeteners have adverse effects on blood glucose levels.

●    Reduce the use of NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs)

Commonly taken to reduce inflammation the common drugs have severe impact on our gut changing the balance of the microbes that live there. Studies has shown that NSAIDS also irritate the digest tract lining especially in the small intestine and prolonged use can lead to ulcerations of the stomach.

●    Be conscious of when to take antibiotics 

It is important to know that antibiotics will wash both good and bad microbes out of the digestive tract but not only this they have impact on the balance of microbes within our gut and the balance of the gut microbes plays an integral part of our overall wellbeing. Our biome is an intricate ecosystem and it isn’t as simple as replacing the microbes with probiotics once we have damaged our gut flora. Just like when loggers take down acres of rainforest it isn’t simply plant more trees, it takes decades of establishment.

●     Consumption of Prebiotic Products

Prebiotics are foods that facilitate the development of healthy microbes in the intestine. They are primarily fiber or complex carbohydrates that cannot be metabolized by human cells. Alternatively, certain types of bacteria wear them down and use them for food. Most fruits, veggies consist of prebiotics, but can also be identified on their own.

Resistant starch can also be prebiotic. This form of starch is not absorbed by the small intestine. Instead, it travels along the large intestine where the microbiome is decomposed. Many experiments have also shown that prebiotics can help the development of many beneficial bacteria, particularly Bifidobacteria.

●     Have More Whole Grains

Whole grains, such as beta-glucan, carry a combination of fiber and non-digestible carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are not processed in the small intestine, but find their way to the large intestine eventually. They are decomposed by the microbiota in the large intestine, which facilitates the growth of some healthy bacteria.

Whole grains may stimulate human development of Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and Bacteroidetes. Whole grains have improved fullness sensations in these trials and decreased potential risks for swelling and cardiovascular disease.

●     Eating a more Plant-Based Diet

Researchers have discovered vegetarian diets are beneficial to the gut microbiota. This may be because of their higher quality of fibers. One research showed that a vegetarian diet led to a decrease in disease-causing bacteria in obese individuals and a reduction in weight, inflammatory response and cholesterol rates.

Another study showed that a vegetarian diet significantly reduced bacteria which caused disease, such as E. Coli.  Whether the effects of a vegetarian diet on the gut microbiota are actually attributable to the lack of meat consumption, is still uncertain.

Additional Information Regarding Gut Health

Food habits are frequent sources of acid reflux, constipation and indigestion. Start using a diet log to see if there are correlations between your conditions and those foods when you feel certain symptoms. Stop eating fried foods and have a low intake of alcohol and caffeine since they are not safe in the long term.

If after making smart food decisions, you happen to have stomach issues, contact the doctor.

Suitable sleep is important for well-being in the stomach. Nausea, bloating, constipation and other intestinal problems are not rare for those with interrupted sleep. It is understood that daily exercise decreases stress levels and helps sustain a healthier weight that can have beneficial effects on gut healing.

Final Thoughts

For several facets of health, gut bacteria are incredibly significant. Multiple experiments have now shown that damaged microbiota can lead to several health related chronic illnesses. Consuming a variety of organic, raw foods is the easiest way to sustain a balanced microbiota, primarily from plant sources such as bananas, vegetables, pulses, beans and whole grains.

There are some enlightening books studies on going with the gut so if you’d like to know more pop by the studio for a chat or a read some of gut related books. You can also check them out yourself:

10% Human by Allana Collen

GUT by Guilia Enders

Eat Move and be healthy by Paul Chek

Countless studies online

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