What's in Your Gut?
Let's talk the gut, not whether it's big or small or even the feeling of little butterflies when you're happy...nope we are gonna talk what does a healthy gut mean for overall health.
The human microbiome...ahh human what?? I know, I know what the heck am I talking about, essentially it's the bacterial ecosystem living within our bodies, mostly within our guts. That ecosystem is made up of trillions of microorganisms, most of which are bacterial and not harmful to our health. Now before you freak out about little microorganisms living in your body, it's a good thing and it is actually considered "the second brain". Scientists have recognized for more than 100 years that bacteria in the gut are constantly communicating with neurons in the brain, earning the nickname ” the second brain”.
Gut bacteria is vital to our health and play numerous roles. Factors such as genetics, age, sex and diet continually influence the composition and profile of an individual’s gut flora. That means no two people’s gut bacteria are quite the same.
But what do our gut bacteria do exactly, and how? Roles of gut bacteria include:
Helping to produce hormones, like serotonin, for example
Aiding in the extraction of energy (calories) and nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and antioxidants
Managing our appetite and body weight
Digesting fiber which helps form stool
Controlling our moods, motivation and cognitive health
Preventing us from catching colds and viruses
Helping repair damaged tissues and injuries
Much, much more
One of the most important things that “good bacteria "probiotics" do is contribute to our immune systems. What that means is it protects us from an invasion of harmful microbes that enter the body every single day.
So why do lose our good bacteria: exposure to various environmental pollutants and toxins, consuming a poor diet lacking anti-inflammatory foods, using toxic medications and over-the-counter drugs, smoking cigarettes, high amounts and stress and exposure to harmful pathogens from other people who are sick.
What does not enough good bacteria do??
“Poor gut health” might make you think about intestinal and digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and celiac disease symptoms — but these are far from the only problems tied to dysbiosis.
A lack of healthy gut bacteria is now tied to the onset of conditions like:
Eczema and psoriasis
Poor recovery from seizures, spinal cord injuries or a stroke
Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases (currently the number one cause of death in many industrialized nations).
Here are simple steps you can take now to start improving gut bacteria:
Consume probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, cultured veggies and kombucha. Also consider taking a high quality probiotic supplement.
Avoid common allergen foods which can make poor gut health even worse: these include conventional dairy, shellfish, peanuts, soy and gluten products. Processed/packaged foods, fried foods and too much added sugar might also worsen gut health (not to mention cause other issues), so work on reducing these as well.
Eat plenty of fiber and prebiotics, which help probiotics in the gut to thrive.
Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake to moderate levels.
To avoid dangers of antibiotics, only take them when absolutely necessary: antibiotics can wipe out both good and bad bacteria in the gut.
Vary your protein intake: It’s been found that high consumption of animal products and very high-protein diets might contribute to carcinogenic metabolites forming in the gut that alter immunity. Rather than making meat, eggs or cheese the center of all your meals, try to focus on variety and eating more plant foods for protein like soaked beans, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Reduce toxin exposure in your home by using natural cleaning products. The same goes for beauty or skincare products; try switching to natural skin care ingredients like coconut oil which don’t contain harsh chemicals. Avoid antibacterial soaps, too.
Exercise and manage stress to keep inflammation levels low.
Introduce traditional gut-friendly foods into your diet like bone broth, a great source of collagen which helps rebuild the gut lining and prevent permeability.
So let's get that good bacteria going!