The noble Greek physician Hippocrates, instinctively knew the vital importance of gut health over 2,000 years ago when he stated, “All diseases begin in the GUT!”
Yet it’s only in the last twenty years that scientific research has uncovered the fact that a healthy gut is absolutely essential to total health and well-being. The intestinal flora interacts with and affects the brain and organ systems.
When the gut is out of balance and in poor health, it has a profound knock-on effect to our quality of life and the way we feel and look. Fortunately, there are a number of easy to follow tips to turn our lives around and make our guts healthy. This is very exciting news, as now that we know more about the private life of the gut, we can take simple measures to make sure that ours is in tip-top condition.
The Gut Flora and Gut Barrier
Medically speaking, the gut (a hollow tube that runs from the mouth all the way to the anus), is categorised as being outside the body. The intestinal lining accounts for the largest portion of the body’s immune system, and has a remarkably large surface area, which when stretched out, equates to the size of a football field.
Our gut health is reliant on two connected variables:
Gut flora – the flora contains a hundred trillion bacteria, some of which are beneficial and some of which are harmful.
Gut barrier – The gut barrier is the means by which nutrient molecules are absorbed into the body. It’s also is responsible for regulating our reaction and tolerance to the toxic compounds we ingest, and acts as a barrier to stop intestinal bacteria from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Gut flora modulates metabolism, supports normal gastrointestinal function, and steps in to help protect the body from infection. In order to obtain optimum mental, physical and emotional health, there has to be a constant equilibrium of both good and bad bacteria. An unhealthy gut is responsible for a staggering array of devastating diseases including:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue and autism.
When people suffer a leaky gut, it means that the intestinal barrier is perforated, and allows large molecules of protein to break through to the inside of the body and enter the bloodstream. If this happens, the body’s immune system regards them as invaders, and initiates an immune attack. The same factors that destroy gut flora can also produce a leaky gut. Bad gut flora and a leaky gut are intertwined, and digestive problems, some of which are not obvious, also start to manifest.
When adverse environmental and genetic factors are present, loss of intestinal barrier protection does not only cause a leaky gut, it also creates inflammation, and leaves us feeling tired, unable to think clearly, miserable and negative. They also contribute to the development of serious autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, asthma, allergies, celiac disease, metabolic complaints such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, and disorders of the skeletal system, liver, kidneys, pancreas and brain.
Tips to a Healthy Gut are as follows:
Implement a Few Positive Changes to Your Diet
Firstly, you should gradually introduce beneficial changes to your diet: minimize processed foods as well as food and drink which is loaded with sugar. Be sure to include wholesome plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables and pulses which naturally contain fiber; use only health giving fats such as olive and coconut oil, and try out fermented products such as miso, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, and fermentable fiber including yam, sweet potatoes and yucca. Eat plenty of foods rich pre-biotics (precursors to probiotics) such as ground flax seeds. Not only will these additions improve your gut health, they are also beneficial in a myriad of other ways, and are loaded with anti-oxidants to fight off aging.
Let Multi-Strain Probiotics do the Work
Take a top quality multi-strain probiotic which includes lactobacillis and bifidobacteria. This will gradually start to build up the good bacteria strains and fend off the bad ones; it will also boost healthy flora which will release acid to make the environment hostile towards dangerous microbes. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Stop the Toxins
Eliminate all food toxins from your diet. Avoid wheat products as well as other grains which contain gluten. This is essential because they contain gliadin, a protein which elevates the production of another protein called zonulin, which has negative effects and induces a leaky gut.