The Gut, a big buzz word in the health world and for good reason. The stomach, intestine and colon are collectively known as “the gut”. But why do we need to know about it? Our bodies are actually made up of a hundred trillion bugs, 3–10x more cells than we have in our body! These bugs are bacteria and most of them are found in the gut. It is these bugs that are essential for digestion, absorption and utilisation of the food we eat.
But they aren’t all good. When bad bacteria take over the good we have trouble with cravings, food tolerance, weight gain, energy, mental clarity and our immune system can become suppressed. They get out of balance when we get sick and have to take antibiotics, when we are stressed or when we eat lots of processed and packaged food.
So how can we balance these bacteria? There are three easy things you can do right now to help out the good bugs. They are:
- Taking a probiotic
- Eating probiotic rich foods such as yogurt, miso soup or sauerkraut and
- Cutting out sugars
Probiotics are a substance which stimulate growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties within our gut. The most common types of probiotic bacteria are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, look out for these two when buying good probiotic. When we consume probiotics regularly, we help to eliminate abdominal pain, gas, bloating, reflux, nausea and even allergies. They are known to help reduce symptoms of IBS and many skin conditions, as well as improve anxiety levels, stress, and mental outlook.
Consuming fermented foods regularly makes for a happy tummy by protecting again gastrointestinal disease, improving overall health, metabolism, immunity, and body composition. They are a rich source of minerals, vitamins and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair as well as assisting the body’s use of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for cell growth and energy. Some fermented foods include:
- Plain yogurt with live cultures and no added sugar
Removing refined sugars from your diet can have a profound impact on reducing inflammation in the body, particularly our gut. But it is not just about inflammation, sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria, especially candida overgrowth, one of the silent diseases of our society that causes great morbidity. Candida is the reason for great spectrum of chronic misdiagnosed disease including sinusitis, IBS, depression, and chronic fatigue. When the bad bacteria take over it limits the ability of the good bacteria to do its job.
So in a nutshell, the gut is one of the most important aspects of our body that is responsible for our overall physical and mental wellbeing. A happy gut equals a happy life!
Written by Emma Barrett
Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist
Enders G. (2015), The Gut. London, UK: Scribe Publications