Everyday we are bombarded with new information- what’s good for us and what could potentially kill us. Our ‘guts’ are the central parts of our bodies, hidden in the walls of the digestive system. The term refers to the entire gastrointestinal system, but specifically your stomach, small intestine and colon. The gut plays such an important role and is revolutionizing medicines understanding of the links between digestion, mood health and overall well-being.
A World ‘Within’
Our guts are part of what’s known as our microbiome or gut flora. These are the inner world of cells and their molecular function that contribute to a healthy body and mind .There are hundreds of species of bacteria in our intestines. Each species plays a different role in our health and requires different nutrients for growth. When thrown out of balance, our health can be affected in a big way. Although the recent phenomenon around our gut being integral to our overall health, the principal is an ancient one. The Ancient Greeks were amongst the first to make the link between the gut and emotional/brain health. As Hippocrates wrote; ‘let medicine be thy food and food thy medicine’.
Also known as our ‘second brain’ , our guts are astonishingly clever, containing microbiome and microbes which influence our mood, weight and immune system ,and reacts to both psychological and physiological stress. Research shows that there are possible connections between the human microbiome, microbial imbalances and chronic disease. These include skin problems [eczema or psoriasis],cardiovascular disease, thyroid autoimmune disease [Hashimoto’s], joint [arthritis], mental health [depression] and more. The core of these diseases are a result of chronic inflammation.
Maintain a Healthy Gut
Taking a holistic approach to your gut health is going to yield the best possible results One of the most important things you can do is to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Eating a wide range of plant based foods. Eat more fibre such as fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrains [which feed healthy microbiome]. Probiotic foods, such as Live yoghurt, kombucha and fermented foods [kefir ,sauerkraut] cultivate healthy microbiome too. Choose extra virgin olive oil over other fats. Avoid highly processed foods as they often contain ingredients that either suppress ‘good ‘ bacteria or increase’ bad’ bacteria. Reducing the amount of high sugar and high fat[animal fats],as well as fried foods can contribute to better gut health .Use garlic, onion, ginger and herbs to prepare healthy and tasty food. Be sure to drink enough water ,as it assists food to move through your system more efficiently. Antibiotics kill ‘good’ bacteria as well as ‘bad’. If taking antibiotics, ensure that you eat the foods that will boost your microbes afterwards. Be cautious of excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol and avoid unnecessary medication as far as possible.
In most cases, supplements aren’t needed to support a healthy gut, however they can assist, but what you eat is by far the most important factor. Here’s to supporting a healthier immune response and even a brighter mood.
A healthy gut makes for a healthy life!