I am sure you heard at least 100 times that “All disease begins in the gut.”
You might ask yourself if the 2,000+ years old quote from Hippocrates stood the test of time. Of course, if taken literally, it is a bit of a stretch to say that all disease in the body starts in the gut. Nevertheless, a large number of conditions are associated, to a greater or lesser degree, with the health of your gut.
To avoid any confusion, when we refer to the gut, we consider the entire gastrointestinal tract (mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, anus) along with the other organs of the digestive system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder).
Signs that your gut is not as healthy as it should
- feeling cranky before meals
- sleepy/tired after meals
- experience gas, bloating, acid reflux, constipation or diarrhea
- undigested food, mucous or blood present in stools
- mood swings, anxiety, depression
- fatigue and sleep disturbances
- brain fog, trouble thinking or concentrating
- blurred vision
- bad breath and body odour
- Candida overgrowth
- vaginal or rectal itching
- weight loss or gain
- skin conditions (eczema, acne)
- allergies and food intolerances
- hormone imbalances
Microbiome = the entire population of bacteria in the human body
In recent years it became evident that the microbiome plays a significant role in our overall health. We live in a symbiotic relationship with the multiple forms of bacteria within our bodies, and while some of them are beneficial, others are harmful. As research on this topic progresses, we learn about exciting discoveries and associations between certain types of bacteria and specific ailments.
Good bacteria in the gut are essential to ensure proper digestion and affect our overall health. Besides this, the list of conditions connected with an imbalanced microbiome is no longer limited to just metabolic syndrome, diabetes, IBS, obesity or heart disease. It also includes autoimmune conditions like IBD (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis) or rheumatoid arthritis.
Also, due to a bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut, it was revealed that gut health also plays a role in anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease.
Main functions of the good bacteria
- Immune system regulation
- Prevention of infections
- Reduce inflammation
- Regulate the hunger/satiety hormones
- Improve mineral absorption
- Production of a variety of vitamins and amino acids
- Increase intestinal motility, secretion and absorption
- Keep the pathogenic (harmful) bacteria in check
- Detoxification of heavy metals
How does food influence the microbiome
The type of food ingested determines what kind of bacteria grows in your gut. Bacteria turn on different genes that can activate certain diseases. You are what you eat, and more specifically, what your bacteria eat. It really gets complicated and not all the mechanisms are fully understood. For instance, some research on fruit flies that reinforced the existence of gut-brain communication, found that gut bacteria may actually dictate the host’s food preferences.
Also, you are what you can absorb from the food you eat. It is paramount that all the organs involved in digestion work in harmony and are able to effectively communicate with each other to adjust their functions in response to brain or hormonal stimuli.
Diet and lifestyle changes can help bring your bacterial balance back to normal. Provide a strong nutrient foundation for your good bacteria by including in your daily menu some of the following: dark leafy greens or other cruciferous vegetables, asparagus and fruits (apple, banana), as well as whole grains like barley and oats.
Good bacteria in the gut are essential to ensure proper digestion.
Conditions connected with an imbalanced microbiome:
▪ Digestive disorders ▪ Diabetes ▪ Obesity ▪ Heart disease ▪ Hormonal imbalances ▪ IBS ▪ Crohn’s ▪ Ulcerative colitis ▪ Rheumatoid arthritis ▪ Anxiety ▪ Depression ▪ Alzheimer’s disease
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