GUT HEALTH 101
Time to read 7 min
Time to read 7 min
There's really no simpler way to put it… Gut health is a BIG deal.
To maintain an optimal functioning body, nurturing the gut state is a MUST for long-term wellness. Why? A healthy, high-functioning digestive system is necessary for the quality absorption of vital nutrients and minerals from our food. We need these nutrients to survive and support our body systems: the immune system, central nervous system, and other essential bodily processes.
The human gut microbiome contains over 1000 species of bacteria and microbes each playing a crucial role in the body's functioning. While most of them are vastly important for your health, some may also cause disease. (Proctor, L M et al. 2015)
Fun Fact: Did you know your body is filled with trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, also known as microbes? There are approximately 40 trillion bacteria cells and only 30 trillion human cells in your body. So, you are more bacteria than human! (Sender, R et al. 2016)
Several factors can damage the integrity of the gut microbiome. From unhealthy, highly processed foods, sugar, low quality sleep, elevated stress, and antibiotics, to name a few, can significantly impact the absorption of quality nutrients. As a result, health issues relative to the brain, heart, immune system, hormones, digestive system, weight management, and skin health often occur.
As mentioned, an accumulation of unhealthy microbes may lead to disease and other health issues. This unbalance of microbiota is sometimes known as gut dysbiosis, contributing to weight management issues like weight gain. The bacteria found in your gut influence how you digest foods and produce chemicals that help you feel full, so the overall state of your gut health and bacteria can have a massive impact on your weight. (Krajmalnik-Brown, R et al. 2012)
Did you know humans can't digest fibre, but certain bacteria can? These bacteria produce many chemicals during the process of digesting fibre which highly benefits the overall health of the gut and promotes weight loss. (Koh, A et al. 2016) Studies have also proven that those with a higher fibre intake generally have a lower weight, which indicates the role gut bacteria plays in the digestion of fibre. (Manni, C et al. 2017) Your gut bacteria also digest flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants found in plants. Studies have shown flavonoids may also prevent weight gain! (Thaiss, Christoph A et al. 2016)
There's no denying the impact the state of your gut health can have on your overall weight and progress when it comes to achieving specific weight-related goals. As we've learned, a balance of bacteria and a diet high in fibre is essential for a healthy, well-functioning microbiome.
Did you know about 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut? So when it comes to periods of repetitive sickness and bodily woes, tending to the integrity of your gut is a great place to start to improve your long-term health and wellness.
The relationship between the gut and immune system is symbiotic. These two systems have evolved closely together to protect the body and eliminate harmful pathogens that come into contact. The relationship between these two systems begins at birth and develops as the body comes into contact with bacteria for the first time. From here, they work synergistically together to support one another to promote a healthy body. Over time, the gut impacts the development and strength of the immune system as the immune system shapes the diverseness of the microbiome.
As the immune system and gut microbiota have a pretty close relationship, exposure to bacteria stripping factors like a poor diet high in processed foods, antibiotics, heavy metals and toxins, surgeries, and chemotherapy can compromise the intestinal flora, having a significant impact on the strength of your immune system. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a silent contributor to poor immunity, with many realising they don’t even have it! This syndrome allows pathogens to leak into capillary blood vessels resulting in an immune system more susceptible to infection and inflammation.
Lifestyle factors such as a diet high in pre and probiotics, fibre and intentional gut supporting supplements can improve your overall gut and immune health by encouraging a balance in bacteria.
If you think your gut is entirely separate from your brain, think again! Have you ever experienced butterflies in your stomach or a gut-wrenching feeling? Or perhaps you’ve felt nauseous at the thought of something? This is because the gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotions like anger, anxiety, fear etc. and can trigger symptoms within the gut.
Via the neural, endocrine and immune pathways, the brain and gut communicate, with intestinal microbiota playing an essential role in the quality of this communication. Several human and animal studies have explored the close relationship between gut bacteria and mood disorders like depression and anxiety, finding that probiotic supplementation may play a vital role in the strategy for treating or preventing depression. (Foster, Jane A et al. 2013)
When it comes to mental illness, you may think the gut is the last place to explore treatment options; however, according to researchers, understanding the microbiome may uncover gut issues like inflammation which can directly impact the brain.
Chemicals and neurotransmitters like serotonin, acetylcholine, and melatonin are produced by bacteria within the intestines which may affect the brain and mental health, further illustrating the benefits of probiotics. A small 2017 study discovered that 64% of people with mild to moderate anxiety or depression had experienced fewer depressive symptoms after supplementing with a probiotic for six weeks. (Pinto-Sanchez, Maria I et al. 2017)
A notable marker for predicting future depression is cognitive reactivity. Studies in this area demonstrate that supplementing with a multispecies probiotic over four weeks significantly reduced cognitive reactivity scores in healthy people, suggesting reduced vulnerability for future depression. The participants in this study had no diagnosable anxiety or depression at baseline, so improvements in these scores were unexpected! (Booij, L et al. 2007)
Figure 3: Three of the ways microbiota can impact the brain (Examine 2015)
It's a no brainer, really. The better you eat, the better you feel. This goes for your brain health also. As we've learned, nurturing your gut health goes beyond your digestive system. Food can massively affect your overall mood and cognitive abilities. While being in a low mood calls you to reach for all the sugary and delicious things, doing so may worsen your mental state.
As the brain accounts for 20% of our energy requirements, consuming high energy providing and nutritious foods is essential as the foods we eat to fuel our minds also. Healthier, gut-friendly food options may contribute to better stress management, lower anxiety, improved mood, better productivity and an overall higher state of wellbeing.
1. Increase plant-based foods!
When it comes to a healthy microbiome, the best sources of nutrients are fruits and vegetables. Consuming more fruits and vegetables increases the good bacteria in the gut, which aids in the digestion of fibre. A 2016 study discovered that a diet high in fruits and vegetables might prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria. (Klinder, A et al. 2016)
Some high fibre fruits and vegetables to include in your diet are:
2. Eat more prebiotic foods
Promoting the growth of good bacteria in the gut and consuming more prebiotic food is a simple way to improve gut health. Several fruits, veggies and wholegrains contain prebiotics; however, they can also be found on their own. Studies prove that specific prebiotics have been shown to help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes by reducing triglyceride, insulin and cholesterol levels in people with obesity. (Beserra, B et al. 2015)
3. Reduce your stress levels
There's no denying that high-stress levels can take a hard toll on your body, especially when it's chronic. When It comes to the state of your gut, high stress can increase inflammation and cause GI distress resulting in discomfort and can potentially lead to disease if left untreated. Try managing stress with exercise, meditation, decreasing caffeine and reviewing your diet. Here are three simple breathing techniques to lower stress.
4. Get more sleep!
The state of your gut can be seriously impacted by a lack of sleep as the composition of the gut microbiome can become compromised by sleep deprivation. Not to mention, every system in the body relies on energy to function optimally! Getting more sleep is easier said than done, but quality sleep needs to become a priority if you're serious about improving your gut health. Need a little help? Here are five reasons you may not be getting a good night's sleep.
5. Gut Performance by Every Body Every Day
When it comes to performance, functionality, and wellbeing, it's no secret good health starts within. Scientifically developed in Australia, Gut Performance has been designed to reduce bloating, bring your gut microbiome back to a healthy environment, improve general health, assist weight loss, improve intestinal absorption, and lower the Glycaemic Index (GI) of foods and reduce gut inflammation.
Loaded with a nutritious matrix, Gut Performance boasts incomparable benefits thanks to innovative components like:
Insoluble and soluble fibre
Poor gut health can result in symptoms like lethargy, recurrent illnesses like colds and flu, bloating, fluctuations in weight, skin irritations, and poor sleep and performance. If that's the case for you, improve nutrient absorption with the help of this comprehensive formula while supporting healthy digestion, bowel function and the elimination of toxins. Learn more about this game-changing formula here!
Getting your gut health back to where it should be can be a process; however, the rewards are well worth it when your energy is high, digestion is good, sleep is quality and the immune system functions effectively. For more advice on managing your gut health check out our gut health for beginners blog here.