What is Gut Health?
Everyone’s digestive system, better known as the gut, is one of the most complex systems in the whole human body. It plays a unique roll, being the place for the digestion and absorption of our food. The system itself includes everything from the liver, mouth and stomach to the gall bladder, oesophagus and small and large intestines.
Many people do not realize, but in our gut we all have our very own ‘microbiome’. This microbiome consists of a ‘community’ like ecosystem built out of microbes. As of currently, there are around 500 known species of microbe, which are mostly made up of bacteria. It is estimated that each person has over 100 trillion microbes in their body, most of which are found in the digestive tract. The other hotspots for microbes are the nose and mouth, which also have an impact on the health of our gut.
So, how does this microbiome effect our health?
One of the greatest roles of our gut bacteria (apart from digesting food) is to regulate our immune system. Recent advances have even linked the health of our cut to a wide range of conditions including anxiety and depression, acne and a range of different allergies.
To further this, modern research has also discovered a link between our gut bacteria (microbiome) and various neurodegenerative diseases. This includes Parkinson’s disease as well as the condition chronic fatigue syndrome. It is also suggested that our microbiome also has a significant role in our weight management and autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes and arthritis.
It is even argued that the gut works in our body as a second brain. But why is this the case?
Due to the millions of neurons lined all around your gut, chemical messages (known as neurochemicals) are passed from your gut to the rest of the body. These messages allow your cut to consistently communicate with your brain, which will affect your moods and emotions. The bacteria in the gut has shown to also impact neurotransmitters. There is a significant link between our gut and the release of serotonin (also known as our happy hormone) which has an immediate impact on our moods.
How Can I Impact My Gut Bacteria?
Every single microbiome is unique in its own way and is affected by a wide range of factors, many of which may not be in our control. For example, the way in which you were delivered at birth, the way you were fed as an infant and the use of medications as a child will all impact your gut. However, you can impact your gut in many other ways. For example, a diet low in fibre, fruit and vegetables can have a significant impact.
Research has also shown that stress levels in the body can also impact the diversity of the bacteria in our gut. This helps us to explain why eczema or acne may flare up when we are stressed. So, how can we regulate the health of our gut? The best way to do this is through the consumption of different foods. Our diets will have the greatest impact on the way our gut regulates, impacting our microbiome more than any other factor. Here are the foods that you can eat, as well as the ones that you should avoid in order to enhance the healthiness of your gut.
What Foods Should You Consume?
In general, a diet high in fibre, as well as the consumption of fruit and vegetables will significant benefit the overall health of your gut. Here are the foods you should consume to ensure your gut is as healthy as possible.
The more fruit and vegetables in your system, the more your gut bacteria will flourish. Peas are full of both soluble and insoluble fibre that will help to balance your system. Add them to a range of dishes from curries, soups and stir friends to consume them more often!
Fresh ginger is a great way to produce stomach acid and it also helps to stimulate your digestive system, keeping your food moving throughout the gut. You can add fresh ginger to stir-fries, curries, soups and stews to consume more.
Gut bacteria and microbes actually benefit from fatty acids and polyphenols. These acids are found in olive oil. Research has suggested that olive oil can help to reduce any gut inflammation. It can be used to cook food or as a salad dressing, making it easy to add to your diet!
What Foods Should You Avoid?
On the other hand, food can also damage the overall health of your gut. In particular, foods that are processed, contain additives and are fried will have the most detrimental impact. Here are the top foods you should avoid in order to enhance the overall health of your gut.
Processed foods high in fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, and other artificial sweeteners have the greatest negative impact on the health of your gut. Consistent consumption can result in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and also result in a number of other issues. Avoid these foods were possible, replacing them with a healthier alternative.
Fried foods are harder for the body to digest. People often fry foods in oils that are high in saturated fats. This irritates the stomach resulting in gas, diarrhoea and stomach pains. Research is also suggesting that friend foods may also promote the growth of various harmful gut bacteria. Limiting such foods has a range of benefits, including limiting liver disease.
Whilst animal protein can have a range of benefits on our health, overconsumption has been strongly linked to the development of IBS. Whilst animal protein in moderation is great for your health, overconsumption can result in poor gut bacteria.
So, there you have it, the main foods you should eat and avoid when it comes to the overall health of your gut. What do you think? Have you found any other foods that are harmful to your gut? Let us know by contacting us directly with the foods your gut enjoys and the foods it doesn’t!