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Why should we be concerned about gut health?

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Gut Health Nutrition Health Coach Healthy living

There is growing recognition of the role of diet, lifestyle and other environmental factors in changing the makeup of the human gut microbiota, which can affect overall health and well-being.


There are approximately 10x as many micro-organisms in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract as there are cells in the human body – around 100 trillion. Most of the microbes are bacteria, but there are also yeasts, fungi, viruses and parasites. We find most of these organisms in the large intestine where they ferment undigested food and turn it into faecal bulk, which reduces the risk of constipation.


Diet, particularly macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fats play a major role in the type of bacteria that colonise your gut. For example, certain bacteria whose preferred food source is sugar based will likely colonise if your diet is high in sugars, including refined carbohydrates such as pastries, white bread, white flour, breakfast cereals, white pasta, noodles, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, crisps, and fizzy drinks. When these types of microbes are in abundance in the gut they can cause prolonged inflammatory gut issues, decreased immune function and decreased absorption of nutrients.


There is a huge body of evidence that suggests that imbalances in the gut microbe populations are associated with disease and when I talk about disease I don’t necessarily mean diseases that we catch but any type of dis-ease in the body, this can include mental health issues.


Growing and maintaining a diverse and thriving population of ‘good’ bacteria can help to keep harmful and damaging bacteria at bay. If the gut houses an array of good bacteria that have colonised in large numbers and attached to the lining of the gut then when ‘bad’ bacteria come in, there is nowhere for them to attach and colonise. Think of it like cars in a car park in parking spaces. If all the good bacteria are parked in the spaces there is nowhere for the bad bacteria to park.


We work in a symbiotic way with our bacteria, we feed them and in turn, they can provide us with some essential nutrients we need. Certain strains of bacteria are capable of producing vitamins that our body needs such as vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting, biotin, which is needed for healthy skin, hair and nails and folate which is needed for nervous system development to name a few.


Foods high in dietary saturated fats such as fatty cuts of meat, meat products such as bacon, pies and sausages, cheese, ice-cream, biscuits, cakes and pastries may increase numbers of pro inflammatory gut microbes. Inflammation in the gut can be present for a long time without the individual knowing. The problem with inflammation in the gut is that it can be damaging to the gut lining. When the gut lining is damaged, it can allow a whole host of toxins into the body that shouldn't be there. These toxins compromise the immune system and contribute to an inflammatory response that may manifest as various diseases.


The other problem with inflammation is that it can steadily move throughout your body and settle into the brain where it can cause things like brain-fog or move to the joints and cause joint pain.


The good news is that as adults, we can have an influence on the type of bacteria we have in our gut. Both short and long term dietary change influence the type of communities that live there. Dietary means maybe be the best way of maintaining a healthy gut population. Lifestyle changes are also key in this process and in our journey to feeling better, both physically and mentally.


If you are ready to rejuvenate your health, book in for a free connection call or email me to find out about ways we can work together.


Let’s kick-start your health journey.


Love and support

Becky






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