Our gut - or digestive system - is an incredible, complex system comprised of organs, blood, nerves, hormones, and bacteria. It works hard to transform the food we eat into energy and nutrients and interacts with all the other systems in the body.
Why is gut health so important?
Maintaining a healthy digestive system is crucial to support mood, nutrient absorption, and in particular, immunity.
“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The immune system is inside your body, and the bacteria are outside your body.”
- via Hopkins Medicine
What happens when gut health is comprised?
When things are out of balance, the body is unable to absorb crucial nutrients from our food. If the delicate gut lining is damaged - through poor diet choices, toxins, stress, or bacterial imbalance - leaky gut can occur.
"When you have leaky gut, certain tiny particles that should never be able to enter your bloodstream start to make their way through. This presents a major problem, as the vast majority of your immune system is found inside the gut.
The result? A disruption of acute inflammation, and sometimes autoimmune reactions. A normal part of your immune response that serves to fight infections and diseases winds up over-performing, leading to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases."
- via Dr Axe
Leaky gut is linked to a whole host of conditions including autoimmune disease, depression and anxiety, and skin conditions.
Bacterial imbalance is also common. The digestive tract is full of bacteria, much of which is beneficial. Antibiotic use, toxin exposure, and diet can all affect the delicate microbiome.
"We each inherit a specific collection of bacteria and microbes at birth – the most important of which we receive through the birth canal and subsequently in our mother's breast milk. This early collection of bacteria and microbes forms the foundation of our gut microbiome and is shaped by the foods we eat and our environments."
- via The Good Gut
Maintaining healthy gut flora will bolster your immunity and can reduce the incidence of digestive issues. While probiotics can be enormously helpful, diet and lifestyle play a huge role in gut health.
Easy ways to improve gut health.
- Watch what you eat. Avoid sugar and processed foods, and opt for plenty of vegetables, good fats, and clean protein. Adequate fibre is also important to help everything move through your digestive tract.
- Take a gut-loving supplement like collagen. Did you know that glycine and proline, amino acids found in peptide collagen, help to rebuild and "seal" the gut lining? Choose a high-strength powder like Adashiko to get the correct daily dosage.
- Include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yoghurt in your diet. As well as being delicious, these foods contain naturally occurring probiotics that promote a healthy tummy.
- Limit exposure to toxins. Avoid artificial sweeteners, pesticides, MSG, triclosan (an antibacterial agent found in soaps and hand sanitisers), and meat and dairy treated with antibiotics, all of which are problematic for the gut. Avoid at all costs.
- Reduce stress. The gut-brain link is well recognised, and both short-term and long-term stress can cause digestive issues. Managing stress is vital to all-around good health (learn more about stress and the gut here).
- If you suspect you have leaky gut or have underlying digestive issues, consider visiting a natural health practitioner alongside your GP.
This blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.