Health Focus: Gut Health

Gone are the days where our understanding of gut health was purely about digestion and absorption. The majority of health-related research over the past couple of decades has been focused on the gut and is proving how influential the gut and its inhabitants are on overall health. Your gut is filled will a lot of bacteria that have countless roles throughout the human body. This colony of bacteria is called the gut microbiome.

One of the reasons why the gut microbiome is so important is its influence on immune function. 70-80% of the immune system is located in the gut and can have systemic effects.

Also, just because you don’t have gut-related symptoms (bloating, constipation, heartburn, etc.), doesn’t mean you have an ideal gut. There are lots of presentations of an unhealthy gut that you wouldn’t think of. For example, skin irritations, brain fog, anxiety, nutrient deficiencies, weight gain, etc. Those sweet little bugs can do lots of good, but when in disarray, a lot of damage.

This blog, I’ll be taking you through different behaviors, foods, and techniques to support a better gut and in turn, support a healthier body!

Remember, the gut is not Las Vegas; so, what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut!

 

What is a Microbiome?

The collection of microbes that live in and on the human body is known as the microbiota. The microbiome refers to the complete set of genes within these microbes.

 

Why is the Microbiome important?

Microbial genes significantly influence how the body operates and even outnumber human genes by a ratio of 100:1.2 Each of us has a unique microbiota and a unique microbiome. The microbes that live in your body are determined by what you're exposed to and these colonies are constantly in flux. An imballanced gut can open the doorway to conditions such as cancer. Geography, health status, stress, diet, age, gender, and everything you touch all affect the composition of your microbiota.3

 

How can we support the Microbiome?

Your microbiome is constantly changing.1 You rely on your microbiome for many processes, including digestion and immune system function; the stronger it is, the better off you'll be. To positively shape your microbiome, eat a diverse diet rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber.4 Probiotic supplements can also help strengthen the microbiota. Choosing the best probiotic supplement is a whole other subject but, bottom line, the best probiotic supplements contain an assortment of probiotic strains and prebiotics. Prebiotics are foods that help probiotics flourish.

References:

 

1.  Ursell, Luke K, et al. “Defining the Human Microbiome.” 70.Suppl 1 (n.d.): n.pag. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

2.  “The Human Microbiome.” Utah.edu. n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

3.  “Your Changing Microbiome.” n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

4.  Filippo, De, et al. “Impact of Diet in Shaping Gut Microbiota Revealed by a Comparative Study in Children from Europe and Rural Africa.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107.33 (2010): 14691–6. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.