Good gut health can make or break a person and is well worth investing in. Sara Whatley finds out more about this amazing and complex bodily system
Once upon a time it was believed that our gut and digestive system was relatively simple.
Today it is understood that it is a hugely complex body system and is the subject of increasing research in the medical profession.
Studies have shown links between good gut health and our immune systems, mood, mental health, heart health, brain health and digestion, and maintaining a healthy gut can even help to prevent some illness and disease.
There are signs to look out for which indicate our guts are not performing at their peak: an upset stomach, poor sleep (serotonin, the hormone which helps us sleep, is largely produced in the gut), sugar cravings and eating a high sugar diet, food intolerances, and illness such as skin irritation or autoimmune conditions caused by inflammation in the gut.
Thankfully there are simple ways to improve gut health and help contribute to a healthy gut microbiome (made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes), such as eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, eating slowly and mindfully, reducing stress and getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water and taking a prebiotic or probiotic supplement.
Good gut health is vital for our immune systems – 80% of our immune cells can be found in the gut. Eating fermented foods, which are high in probiotics is brilliant for our guts, providing it with living bacteria to add to the good bacteria already present. And eating prebiotics provides our guts with food for the good bacteria to keep them going.
Despite the relatively new understanding of the significance of our guts on our overall health, age old phrases such as, ‘Follow your gut instinct’, ‘Listen to your gut’, ‘Gut feeling’, and ‘Gut reaction’, show us that the importance of our guts has been recognised for a long time, not just on a physical level but on an emotional one as well. If something is bothering us it can manifest in a tummy ache, especially for children. If we eat something bad or overindulge, we can feel it uncomfortably in our gut. And conversely, if we eat well, stay hydrated and take an appropriate amount of exercise, our guts thank us by not being bloated, functioning well and feeling good.
It’s one of those funny things, the gut; if it is working properly and in good health we don’t really notice it, but when it is unhealthy it can have drastic consequences for our body and mind. Even if you change just one thing today to help improve your gut health, your tummy will be smiling at you.
TOP FERMENTED FOODS
- Yoghurt •• Sauerkraut Miso •• Kimchi Kombucha •• Kefir Pickled vegetables
TOP PREBIOTIC FOODS
- Bananas •• Onions Garlic •• Oats •• Berries Ginger •• Turmeric