Why is it important to look after your gut health

New research shows that our gut is responsible for digestive processes and for our immunity, mental health and chronic disease prevention.

How many of you did not ever experience at least some digestive issues? I bet that not many. Chronic digestive issues are some of the most often met physical complaints. Symptoms often include bloating, constipation, urgency and pain. Usually, this pain goes undiagnosed and people might be offered some sort of anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.

For the majority of people suffering from digestive problems, it is highly possible that the pain comes from their gut. The discomfort might be caused by the microbial population that is located within the digestive system. Gut health became the focus of new research. However, gut influence on our health is known from long time ago. Hippocrates was one of the first to say that ‘All disease begins in the gut’. The western lifestyle can easily compromise the digestive system: processed food, refined sugar, lack of sleep, exercise and high levels of stress are important variables that impact it. Many of us tick at least a couple. And while there are many medications aiming to relieve digestive discomfort, from acid reflux to constipation, the reality is that they destroy the good bacteria existing already in your gut.

Did you know that your gastrointestinal system is responsible for about 70% of your immune system and that it is also linked to your nervous system? Health professionals claim that this could be an explanation for the increase in the number of chronic diseases such as: diabetes, arthritis, allergies, etc. The gut seems to be the start point of many chronic diseases that have nothing to do with the stomach. For instance, hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone and thyroxine are converted in the gut and our microbiome helps us in maintaining weight, mood, and reproductive processes. Taking care of our gut means also taking care of our reproductive health. Problems with the gut can lead to infertility issues, low libido, anxiety and depression.

Friendly bacteria/ “probiotics”:

Probiotic means pro-life and they are essential for a healthy gut. There are various types of probiotics that have wonderful benefits but two of them are major: lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Naturally, many of us have the tendency to cultivate more of the bad bacteria and this is where the problem starts. Think about antibiotics. On one hand, they can save us. However, they destroy our flora. Taken often, antibiotics make you more predisposed to yeasts and infections.

Gut health and the immune system:

Having a healthy gut will have a visible effect on the digestive processes, including assimilation of food, promoting elimination and managing pH levels within the stomach. What is more interesting is the new relationship found between the gut and the immune system. Research shows that our gut has an ability to switch on and manage activity of immune cell tissue in the gut, known as GALT (gut-associated lymphoid tissue), and fight off potential pathogens, yeasts, viruses and parasites. New research also indicates that there is a correlation between the presence of allergies and the health of our gut, the gut having a clear impact on allergies.

Happy hormone:

Interestingly, about 95% of our serotonin (‘the happy hormone’) is created in the gut. Your gut is also the place of billions of neurons, very similar to those in the brain. Specialist think now of the stomach as being “the second brain”. And this makes a lot of sense after fascinating research has further identified that some of these microbes can communicate directly with neurotransmitter and cognitive functioning.

How to help your gut:

First of all, the easiest way to improve your gut health is to cut off what is bad. So you know, all the refined things, white carbs, fried foods, etc. Be also mindful about the alcohol consumption.

To help your gut, go for kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh. Have colourful dishes that are fibre-rich and nutrient-dense. Drink plenty of water to keep these beneficial bacteria well-nourished and ready to perform all the vital processes.

With all the research we now have access to, we start to understand the big role that our gut microflora plays on our health and wellbeing. We should only be mindful about it and follow our instincts in deciding what is better for ourselves.

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