The size of a tennis court. That's about the same size as the surface of your gut. Its size and functions (which we'll get to below) make your gut arguably one of the most important part of your body that you should pay attention to.
We admit. There are no quick fixes when it comes to gut health. But you can take simple measures today to support your gut health. Here, we break it down so it's easier for you to digest (pun intended) the information.
What's the “gut?”
Your gut is a complex instrument that's composed of your digestive organs and the microbes that live within them. This ecosystem is known as the human microbiome and is made of a community of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, and yeast. [*]
Also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or the digestive tract, the gut performs many important functions. For example, your gut is involved in absorbing nutrients that support different functions such as hormone balance, energy production, waste and toxin elimination, mental and skin health.
Since your harbours both good and bad bacteria, the diversity of your microbiome is key to your overall health. In other words, the more good guys i.e. bacteria you have, the better your health. But when the bad guys dominate, that's when your health suffers. [*]
Imbalance in the gut (known as gut dysbiosis) has been linked to many disorders including:
- IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)
- IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease)
- Coeliac disease
- Food allergies
That's not all. The following conditions have also been linked to gut imbalances:
- Mental health disorders
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Parkinson’s disease
This isn't surprising as 70 percent of your immune system is located in your gut. In other words, if your immune system is weak, it's more susceptible to disease. So, what should you do? Take action!
Addressing and supporting underlying imbalances leads to the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.
How to support your gut health
You now know that the trillions of organisms that hang out in your digestive tract can promote health or cause disease. So how can you support this complex ecosystem to enjoy good health?
Diversity is the name of the game. Like the earth, a healthy gut microbiome should be a rich and diverse ecosystem. Below, we share some stellar tips to support your gut health. We have a gut feeling you'll find this super useful!
While your bad bacteria looove sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed and junk “foods,” (all things that destroy the gut microbiome), your good bacteria looove probiotics. What are these exactly?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help boost the amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Known as “friendly bacteria,” probiotics are found in the gut as well as in many foods. If you want to improve the diversity of your microbiome, add these probiotic foods to your diet:
- Yogurt (Plain, full fat)
Unlike probiotics which are live microorganisms, prebiotics are a type of natural fibre that human beings can't digest. So why have them?! Simple answer. Prebiotics serve as food for probiotics i.e. they feed the good bacteria in the gut, which is important for making your ecosystem rich and diverse.
The best sources of prebiotics include the following:
- Dandelion greens
- Chicory root
- The Jerusalem artichoke
- Chicory root (great coffee alternative)
As you can see, it's easy to feed your good bacteria by these prebiotics. Notice how all these probiotic and prebiotic foods are from the farm, not the factory?! Good health doesn't come in packages!
Three: Vitamin D
We all know that the sunshine vitamin can do wonders for our overall health. But do you know how, exactly? Turns out, vitamin D can do amazing things for gut health, which by now you know it's key to overall health.
So how does vitamin D improve gut health? In one study, for example, 80 healthy female participants who didn't consume enough of this essential vitamin were given 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D per week. After 12 weeks, the study found that the diversity of the gut microbiome of the participants had improved. [*]
You can also get vitamin D from food. These include salmon, beef liver, cod liver oil, sardines, swordfish and tuna fish. Don't forget – exposure to the sun not only boosts your gut microbiome but also vitamin D levels. [*] What are you waiting for? Go out there and enjoy the sun!
We're familiar with the many health benefits of physical activity such as improving mood and brain health, strengthening bones and muscles, and helping manage weight. But did you know that your movement (or lack of) can alter your gut bacteria?
Studies show that exercise increases the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut and enrich microbial diversity. [*] In one study, for example, the diversity of the gut microbiome improved after six months of exercise. Though that's great, what's truly remarkable is that the gut makeup returned to its previous condition when the participants dropped exercising. [*]
At Feel complete, we're big on nutrition because we know that food is medicine. But we're also big believers in holistic health. That's to say, we know there's no one single factor to good health but many contributing factors.
So when it comes to sleep and gut health, we'll tell you the truth. No amount of probiotics, prebiotics, celery juice or vitamin D can make up for poor sleep. The quality of your sleep determines your overall health, which is why sleep deprivation is linked to: [*]
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep apnea
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
Is this surprising? Not when you know the connection between gut health and disease! Studies show that bad bacteria promote poor sleep while good bacteria are linked to better sleep. [*] [*]
One thing is for sure: a healthy gut will give you energy, improve your mood, help you sleep better, reduce many ailments associated with poor gut health. The best way to promote good gut health is to feed it what it loves and to engage in the activities that promote a healthy ecosystem. Sleeping, physical activity, and eating whole foods are all gut-friendly measures you can take today.
If you want to understand how to cater to your own ecosystem, why not reach out to us? You can have your own personal nutritionist to guide and support you on this exciting journey. Remember, supercharging your health doesn't have to cost the earth. But poor health can cost you everything.