The Gut Basics

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

Below is a short overview about why the gut is so important. What can influence the gut environment and what we can do to maintain the best gut health.

Over the next few months I am going to dive a lot deeper into this topic so you can understand a lot more about why our gut health is so good.

Gut bacteria

Trillions of bacteria live in your digestive system and play an important role in our health. Of the thousands of species of gut microbes that live in your gut, some are healthy for your body and others are not. The diverse range of bacteria existing within you is often referred to as Micro-biome.

What does your gut control?

It is fundamental for good health to keep the microbiome in your gut well balanced, with a high diversity of "good" bacteria. A balanced microbiome is known to play an integral role in digestion, appetite regulation, metabolism, immunity, mood, mental health, bone development and cardiovascular health.

Without good gut bacteria, we would lack the ability to both digest our food, and to extract the critical nutrients from it that we need to function. Certain vitamins are also synthesised by our gut bacteria, particularly the B vitamins and vitamin K.

So much can influence our gut health.

It is understood that each and every one of us has a unique combination of gut bacteria comprising our micro biome. Several factors contribute to and can significantly alter the composition of the gut microbiota, including genetics; the mode of delivery at birth; the method of infant feeding; the use of medications, especially antibiotics; stress levels, and very importantly the DIET. Every time we eat a meal, go outside, kiss someone or take a course of antibiotics, we are affecting the composition of our micro biome.

What can disrupt the good bacteria?

Good bacteria can be become unbalanced by many other factors too including chronic stress, infections, DEFINITLY alcohol, refined carbohydrates, sugar, junk food and low gut fibre.

The gut has been labeled our second brain

So much of how we physically feel and behave is based upon the environment of our gut. The digestive system is often called the 'second brain' housing its own nervous system, and contributing to our actions and behaviors, hence the expression, a "gut feeling".

The gut bacteria produce an array of neurochemicals that the brain uses for the regulation of memory, learning and mood. In fact, at least 80% of our body's "happy hormone" serotonin is synthesized by our gut bacteria. This evidently shows that our psychological health is great controlled by what we eat and the bacteria within our gut.

The BEST TIPS to maintain a healthy gut

  • Eat more Prebiotic-Rich Foods.

So prebiotics help as they feed the healthy/good bacteria. And as we know we want to maintain a balanced environment. Sources of Prebiotics are; onions, garlic, asparagus, spinach, beans, bananas, leeks and whole wheat.

  • Fill up on fibre

High-fiber foods feed the healthy bacteria that improve immune function, reduce inflammation and chronic disease, and even help regulate mood. 

  • Avoid Animal Products

Red meat, high-fat dairy products, and fried foods all reduce the growth of healthy bacteria and enhance the growth of “bad” bacteria linked to chronic disease. 

  • Limit Fats

Avoid fried foods, sauté with cooking spray or broth instead of oil, and use low-fat salad dressings, especially if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Most plant foods are naturally low in fat.

  • Avoid Antibiotics if you can

Overuse of antibiotics can kill off healthy bacteria. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 80 percent of antibiotics are actually used in animal agriculture.

Watch out over the next few weeks for a lot more tips on how to improve your overall gut health.

J x

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