WHY HEALTHY GUT MATTERS:
Gut health seems to be the rage these days. Health critics, scientists, influencers, and physicians are all pointing to gut health as a major contributing factor in healing and overall wellness. It’s estimated that over 70% of a person’s immune system lives inside their gut.
What Does The Gut Do?
Research is revealing that the gut does much more than digest food. It is a major control center for the body. The gut is in charge of absorption of most of the nutrients your body uses for energy, growth, and repair. If it’s not working correctly, it could upset the delicate process of adequately changing the food you eat into a usable resource.
Think of your gut like a water filter. If the filter is dirty, the water passing through will eventually become dirty too.
Unlike a water filter that can be changed on a monthly basis, we are stuck with our guts for life. We need to make sure they are cleaned and maintained as they are the center that fuels our bodies.
What Are Microbiome?
Our guts contain microbiome, or healthy bacteria that help maintain the ecosystem within each of our bodies. These microbes, which are a unique combination for every person, form a mutualistic, symbiotic relationship with us, aiding in the complex process of digestion in return for giving them a place to live.
Just like any fragile ecosystem, the gut microbiome cannot survive and thrive in harsh conditions. Things like poor diet, lifestyle, genetics or environment overtime wear down a person’s gut health. Leaky gut has been linked to physical symptoms like obesity, bloating or upset stomach as well as neurological symptoms like anxiety and depression.
GUT HEALTH RELATED TO OBESITY
Research has shown a direct correlation between poor gut health and obesity. Findings show obese people have digestive issues, gastrointestinal illness, inferior immune health, and are overall more sickly than those considered a healthy weight. These are all signs of poor gut health.
The gut is in charge of breaking down food and changing it into usable energy. When the microbiome are disrupted by living in an unfriendly environment, they have a more difficult time breaking down sugars and metabolizing carbohydrates. These substances stay in our body and make us fat.
GUT HEALTH RELATED TO ANXIETY
Remarkably, in a new study of people with anxiety, the gut could play an essential key role. Our gut microbes remove energy from food and convert it into a variety of hormones and chemicals which impact our mood, our hunger and general mental health. This is often referred to as the brain-gut connection.
In his research, Dr. Sponaugle, a mold specialist doctor, revealed that stress in early life may modify gut bacteria in a way that may escalate the risk of anxiety in later life. According to Dr. Sponaugle, an unhealthy gut could be the gateway to other health problems such as mold toxicity or chronic Lyme disease. They body, generally built to fight such ailments may be ill-equipped due to poor gut health.
Unfortunately, mold and anxiety go hand in hand with gut health as the stomach yields hormones and neurotransmitters that find their way to the nervous system as part of the gut-brain axis. Irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive related issues are commonly found in patients who also suffer from anxiety or depression.
PREBIOTICS VS PROBIOTICS
Both prebiotics and probiotics upkeep the body in structure and sustaining a healthy cluster of bacteria and other microorganisms, which supports the gut and aids digestion.
The difference between the two are that probiotics are foods or vitamins that contain live bacteria similar to the type found in the gut and prebiotics are the fiber that fertilizes the good bacteria already found in your gut.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are healthy for the gut. Probiotic foods and beverages consist of plain yogurt, fresh sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, cottage cheese, kombucha, apple cider, miso, and vinegar. Keep in mind that the probiotic special effects of these foods may be lessened by cooking, processing, or conserving at high temperatures which is why they are recommended for raw consumption.
Unlike probiotic foods, prebiotic foods do not comprise of living organisms. They contribute to the health of the microbiome because they contain impenetrable fibers that ferment in the GI tract, where probiotic bacteria transform into other nutritious matters. Think of prebiotics as fertilizer for the microbiome. Prebiotic foods are onions, garlic, artichokes, leeks, chicory, cabbage, asparagus, oats, and legumes and other dietary fiber rich food.
Why is Dietary Fiber Important?
People should be eating dietary fiber is a crucial element of a healthy diet. Dietary fiber is defined as food (or a portion of food) that is not digested by the small intestine. Therefore, it makes it way into the large intestine where it is either fermented, absorbed or metabolized and used in various ways by the body. Dietary fiber cleans our guts and contributes to our bodies overall health and wellness in so many ways.
What Foods Contain Dietary Fiber?
Many foods we consume are rich in dietary fiber. Beans, whole grains, potatoes, berries, vegetables, and nuts are great sources of fiber. Cheap bulk nuts are great for families on the go because they don’t need refrigerated and are easy to transport. We also recommend macadamia nuts for a healthy treat during the work day or in place of those afternoon sugar cravings.
Eating plenty of dietary fiber will not only help with your overall gut health, it also reduces and controls blood sugar levels, promotes proper nutrient absorption, helps maintain healthy weight, lowers cholesterol and has been linked to a lower risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, diverticulitis, IBS, gallstones and many autoimmune disorders.
The Bottom Line
Based on the gut-brain axis and mounds of research over the years, it’s clear that gut health is extremely important to overall well-being. Whether it’s consuming dietary fiber, adding prebiotics and probiotics to your diet, or consulting a specialist to help with a leaky gut, taking care of your digestive tract is a great way to maintain health and heal yourself from the inside out.
By: Ann Gapasin