Did you know that we carry around some 10 trillion human cells that coexist with about 100 trillion bacterial cells of which most are mainly located in the digestive system? The main role of our digestive system is to break down our food to enable nutrient absorption. These nutrients then help in the formation of new cells and repair damaged cells so that your health is maintained.
Not all bacteria are friendly but host to not so friendly pathogens like parasites, viruses candida, and fungi. If the good guys become imbalanced and where the bad guys outnumber, the greater the negative impact on your health, both physically and mentally. This is a condition called dysbiosis.
Therefore we need to consider our relationship with the microbiome kingdom in our gut and why.
Our diet has a major impact on our microbiome. There have been many studies that demonstrate a diet high in fibre-rich vegetables, whole grain cereals and nuts keeps the best bacteria healthy. It is also suggested that we have 1 serving of probiotics once a day. Kombucha, Water or Milk Kefir, Kavass, Sauerkraut, anything fermented is a great choice.
The gut is your gastrointestinal tract starting at your mouth and including your stomach and intestines. It is where you digest your food which is then absorbed by the body.
Your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms including 1000 species of bacteria, fungi and viruses and they live together like an ecosystem. It is where you digest your food which is then absorbed by the body.
These guys are the gateway to our health and are responsible for our energy through the digestion and absorption of our food, the combination of vitamins and nutrients and the production of anti-inflammatory compounds that help regulate our immune system.
Looking after our gut can help us to absorb the good nutrients from our food which then can help boost our immunity, regulate our digestion and even make a difference in our mood.
When we don’t have a healthy gut the ‘bad guys’ (bacteria) can take over and we have what is called ‘dysbiosis’, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. This can lead to inflammation in the gut and contribute to a whole range of health issues like bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, fatigue, obesity, skin issues, heart disease and many more.
There is also research evidence showing mental illnesses of the brain can also be linked to our gut flora.
You have probably heard the term ‘gut instinct’ which is that feeling you get in your gut when you have a sense of knowing something. Your gut functions as your second brain through the connection of the vagus nerve which is one of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain. It sends signals in both directions.
The trillions of bacteria in your gut not only influence how your gut and immune system function but they have a direct impact on the way your brain functions too. By altering the types of bacteria in your gut, it may be possible to improve your brain health.
So how do we keep a healthy gut? It’s not hard to do! Here are some diet and lifestyle tips on a healthy gut.
- Eat real food (fresh, no GMO, no processed) free-range/grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish with Omega 3, nuts including skin eg. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia, brazil, pecans, hazelnuts.
- Include lots of colours in your vegetables, fruit and herbs – raw if possible
- Include fibre in the diet to enhance and feed good gut bacteria, diversity and function. The best source of fibre is fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
- Eat local olive oil.
- Include Probiotics (live cultures) fermented foods eg.- sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, yoghurt, cheese, pickles, olives and drinks such as kombucha, kefir, kvass, red wine (in moderation), tempeh
- Include Prebiotics (non-digestible food to feed the good bacteria) eg. garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apple, cocoa, flaxseeds, yacon, wheat bran, seaweed
- Drink filtered water – at least 2 litres a day
- Eat, drink and cook with Coconut oil/water
- Drink green tea on a regular basis – loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, anti-inflammatory
- At least 7 hrs sleep a night
We all lead busy lives but it is really important to try and work on the following lifestyle. It’s not just what we put in our bodies that makes a difference but also how we treat them!!
- Limiting stress – when stressed Cortisol is released which can shut down digestion and affect the microbiome
- Don’t eat too much soy – compounds in soy can affect hormone levels and the endocrine system
- Cut down on gluten or cut out, it is hard to digest, affects the microbiome and enhances gut permeability
- Cut down/out sugar – weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, feeds bad bacteria, cause digestive issues
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Take time out every day for just you
- Limit the amount of toxins used in the house, they can affect your microbiome, instead use, Bi-Carb Soda, Borax, Vinegar, Eucalyptus Oil, Essential Oils to do just as good a job without harming you
- Be you – the best you can be!!
Just remember to take it one step at a time and through loving your gut both your brain and your body will say thank you!!
References: Love Your Gut, Sally Joseph; Brain Maker, Dr David Perlmutter; Gut Secrets, Peter Dingle; Gut Health Seminars by HMRI, Gut Warriors, CK Health; http://www.healthline.com;