When the ‘Father of Western Medicine’ Hippocrates stated, “All disease begins in the GUT” over 2000 years ago he definitely was ahead of his time.
Our GUT is home to 100 trillion foreign bacteria, known as microbiome, which play a pivotal role in the way many of our body’s organs and systems work. In fact approximately 1200 different bacterial species can be found in the GUT of an individual living in a developed country. Through research we now know that our GUT bacteria are responsible for how many kilojoules we absorb from the food we eat, how well our immunity works, how much Serotonin we produce (a neurotransmitter responsible for many processes in our body in particular mood stabilisation) and the detoxification of the body. About 20 of the body’s essential hormones are also produced in the GUT.
Science has uncovered that damage to this ecosystem (one of the most complex on the planet) known as Dysbiosis is linked to the development of many diseases such as Chron’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Thyroid Issues, many Auto-Immune Diseases, some Cancers, Heart Disease, Autism, Skin Issues and Mood Disorders such as depression.
Of all the recent research that has been uncovered about the GUT, the most interesting and exciting is the profound connection between the Brain and GUT. The GUT has its own nervous system – The Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The GUT is known as our ‘second brain’ however research is now starting to unfold that quiet possibly our GUT is formed prior to the brain in the womb. Our emotions and brain are constantly responding to what is happening in our GUT and our intestines are linked to our emotions and mental state. In fact the same chemicals that are in the brain are in the GUT hence why when nervous we may find ourselves running to the bathroom more than once!!! We have all heard the expressions “Go with your GUT”, “GUT Instinct” and “GUT Wrenching” and can now understand their meaning.
Some of the latest research is also now focusing on the link between the bacteria in our GUT and our body weight. Bacteria have different capabilities for harvesting energy according to Gastroenterologist Dr Robynne Chutkan. “You can take the exact some meal and give it to 2 people with different GUT microbiome and one individual will absorb 1250Kj and another will absorb 2100Kj from the same meal”.
The bad news is that our modern lifestyle is really bad for our overall wellbeing and this precious ecosystem. So what leads to imbalances in our digestive tract and damage to our GUT lining?
- Consuming Sugar as it promotes the growth of bad bacteria and therefore gets in the way of the growth of beneficial species. Stay away from refined carbohydrates & processed (non-food) & soft drinks.
- Inflammatory gluten and excessive quantities of dairy
- Food containing preservatives (kill healthy bacteria) and grown with antibiotics and growth hormones.
- Chemicals from plastics and the absorption of chemical compounds from cleaning products. This is why I always use non-chemical cleaning & laundry products.
- Our obsession with hand sanitizes has lead to a disturbance in the balance of bacteria in our GUT.
- The over use of Antibiotics has lead to the destruction of not only the bad bugs but also the essential good ones! When good bacteria die off bad bacteria thrive and out number healthy strains. The over prescription of Antibiotics by Doctors has played a huge part!!
- Stress – It is no surprise how stressful situations impact out GUT.
Healthy GUT = Healthy Body
A diet filled with plentiful amounts of wholefoods, greens, vegetables and pre & probiotics can rehab your microbiome. Examples of prebiotic foods are sweet potato, asparagus, brussel sprouts, avocado, garlic & onion. You may be interested to know that your GUT microbes use fruit and vegetable fibres as food ‘fermenting’ these prebiotics in the intestines.
Taking a course of high strength Probiotics a few times a year is also another fantastic way of realigning the microbiome in your tummy. These live microorganisms really are “pro + bios = for + life. There are several different strains of probiotics, which are specific to certain aliments.
A healthy Gut means a healthier life. Give your GUT some more love so that it can love you back.