Recebtly, in my instagram @liyaronin and here in my blog we have been talking about the miracles of the body! One of those miracles is the GUT.
But how can you improve your gut health, heal IBS and other gut related illnesses to increase your holistic health and wellness for a lifetime.
What is a ‘Healthy Gut’?
We all live our day-to-day lives in different environments with different combinations of habits and surroundings. Because of this, each of us has a gut microbiome that looks at least slightly different to that of our parents, siblings or overseas friends – your microbiome is like a bacterial fingerprint, specific to you. Generally speaking, a healthy gut itself has a barrier that is effective at keeping the contents of the gut, such as its microbiota, undigested food particles and toxins, from escaping into the bloodstream. A healthy gut has several other important jobs, including helping to fight off infection, as well as performing all of its usual digestive and regulatory functions, like absorbing and synthesising nutrients that are essential to keeping your body running at its best.
At the Food & Mood Centre, they tend to think, based on the existing evidence, that having lots of different, diverse types of bacteria living in our gut is a good thing. Such diversity may mean that your gut is in a better position to fight off and resist pathogens. Plus, if one strain of bacteria is for some reason unable to do its job, then another similar type can step in and keep things running smoothly. This means that instead of focusing on a specific type or amount of ‘good bacteria’, you might like to focus on broader behaviours that promote a well-functioning gut microbiome, like eating a healthy diet, having adequate exercise and sleep, and reducing your exposure to stress. For me that has looked like a plant based eating style, daily superfoods that have the right bacteria, foods for bacteria growth and stress reducing mushrooms and herbs.
What is ‘Dysbiosis’?
In some instances, the gut microbiome becomes imbalanced or disrupted – this is called dysbiosis. This can be caused by lots of things, including stress, illness, being overweight, overuse of antibiotics, or eating a poor quality diet. In fact, diet is the most important modifiable factor affecting the composition of bacteria living in our gut. Eating a diet composed of energy dense and highly processed foods, as well as emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners, appear to compromise the barrier lining our gut. If your gut barrier is weakened then small particles, like bacteria or small bits of food are able to escape into your bloodstream, where they are marked as intruders and trigger your immune system into action. This is known as ‘Leaky Gut’ and there is rapidly expanding evidence for this as a factor in disease. Continuous immune activation and the inflammation that goes with it puts us at risk for a range of diseases and can compromise both our physical and mental health.
What can I do?
Happily, there is good evidence showing that there are several things you can do to keep your gut microbiota healthy, balanced and functioning optimally. How you eat, your exercise habits, and how frequently you take antibiotics are examples of happy-gut factors within our control (here’s more about the influence of a diverse diet, exercise, and antibiotic use on microbiota). Research happening now at the Food & Mood Centre will help us all to understand how to prevent or treat disorders that are related to gut health.
The gut microbiome is made up of billions of bacteria and other microorganisms that co-exist with other human cells in the lower intestine
The gut microbiota helps with digestion, metabolism, immune function and brain health
Our gut microbiome begins to develop in very early life, and is influenced by genetics, delivery method, age, stress, illness, environment, medication use, and diet
There is no one ideal ‘Healthy Gut’. Everyone’s gut is different, and it’s important that bacteria are able to function at their best, rather than having specific types and numbers of bacteria
The ‘balance’ of our gut can be disrupted by several factors, and this can promote inflammation – a potent risk factor for physical and mental disorders.