You may have heard all the hype lately about gut health, but do you know why it’s so important?
One of the guts most important jobs is to act as a storage site for friendly bacteria, for every human cell there is 10 microbes and most of these live in your digestive tract. Think of it like the tropical rainforest of your body so it is literally teeming with multiple organisms, we need these organisms for the health of our immune system, mental health, metabolism and more!
The gut flora has many roles, it aids in digestion and produces vitamins and other compounds that affect your health, and it also helps to stop the invasion of bad bacteria, toxins and yeasts. Our gut flora can help to neutralise some of the toxic by-products of digestion and it has really important links to the lymphatic system and the immune system.
Mood and food. There is a strong link between our bowel flora and the way we feel, some microbes in the bowel produce GABA, which converts to dopamine, a feel-good hormone. Therefore, if we don’t have enough of these microbes it can affect our mood.
Stress and the gut. The gut is like a helper for the brain, so it makes sense that stress will have an effect on how it functions. Disturbances of the gut-brain connection have been implicated in a wide range of disorders, including obesity, colitis, peptic ulcer, reflux and even eating disorders. Exposure to stress results in alterations of these brain-gut interactions.
It’s not so much about reducing stress because this is hard to do but we can manage how we react to stress. If you can incorporate things into your life that will be a support to you during stress, then this will help you cope. Things like tai chi, yoga, meditation, swimming even walking along the beach will all reduce your stress levels.
The gut and weight. It’s been proven that people who suffer with obesity are more likely to have higher amounts of the bacteria Firmicutes and lower levels of Bacteroidetes. Having the balance of the right bacteria can affect how your body utilises calories.
How to have restore gut flora. Foods such as gluten and sugar will have a negative impact on the gut. Sugar will feed the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria, which will further damage your gut and gluten can affect how the immune system functions. Antibiotics although sometimes needed affect the gut flora in a negative way, they can eradicate some flora completely and give you thrush and diarrhea.
A really simple way of improving your gut flora is to eat a variety of plant-based foods, such as nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, legumes, pulses and beans. Fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kim chi are also helpful but you don’t need a lot of these foods, they are best avoided if you suffer from Candida.
One way of knowing exactly what bacteria you need to restore the balance in the bowel is do a test such as the Ubiome DNA stool test. This looks at the types of bacteria you have and the levels present. It allows you to address each strain individually in order to create a more balanced ecosystem. If you want to lose weight, alleviate depression or anxiety, reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease or improve the functioning of your immune system, this can be very helpful.
Cody Kennedy, Naturopath at CK Health, Adamstown, wrote this article. CK Health was recently award Clinic of the Year by the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. For more information you can contact Cody at www.ckhealth.com.au.
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