Why is a healthy gut important?

Five years ago, nobody knew they had a microbiome. The collection of microbes that live in and on the human body – 100 trillion single-cell organisms- is known as the microbiota. The microbiome refers to the complete set of genes within these microbes. Today, we’re obsessed with it. With good reason: Research has linked too many bad bugs with numerous health problems including autism, obesity, diabetes, allergies, autoimmunity, depression, mood swings, cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, eczema and asthma.

Thankfully, now more than ever, researchers realise the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome. These little critters are everywhere: in our noses, our mouths, our skin and in our gastrointestinal tract (Gut).The largest microbiome population in our bodies is the microbiome in the Gut. It is housed in the large intestine (the colon).

The bacteria in your gut (the gut flora) help you digest and absorb food by breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats and by helping to create digestive enzymes. The right amount of good gut flora can keep you lean, happy, energetic and disease-free.

Having a healthy gut means more to you than just not being annoyed by a little bloating or heartburn! It is central to your entire health. It is connected to everything that happens in your body.  

The Gut Microbiome regulates your:

  1. Immune system – almost 70% of your immune system cells live in or around the gut.
  2. Brain function – due to the Gut-Brain connection (more on this later).
  3. Weight – if your microbiome becomes healthy, you will lose weight. It’s all about correcting the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria, which is making you crave the wrong foods and triggering inflammation. This also explains why so many people lose weight only to gain it right back because the bad bacteria are still present in your gut. The bad bacteria trigger cravings for the foods that feed them.

Your Gut is your Second Brain

HIPPOCRATES, the father of modern medicine and creator of the Hippocratic oath, said 2,500 years ago:

“All disease begins in the gut”  but modern medicine forgot the old school ways.

Your gut is wired back to your brain via the Vagus nerve and messages travel back and forth. If those messages are altered in either direction – from the brain to the gut or the gut to the brain – your health can suffer. If your gut microbiome is out of balance, you may feel anxious, depressed or tired. You may also suffer from memory problems or brain fog.

Sayings such as: “listen to your gut” and “I can feel it in my gut” are real physical phenomenons, not just folklore. 

Gut Health and Hormones

A healthy gut will lead to more stable blood glucose levels, less food cravings and less release of insulin (the fat-storage hormone). An unhealthy gut can predispose you to insulin resistance which reduces your ability to burn fat.

Stress and cortisol (our fight or flight hormone) affect the quality and quantity of good gut bacteria and encourage the growth of bad bacteria. An inflamed gut can make your stress response more easily triggered.

Good gut flora helps the liver to detox out excess oestrogen. The liver sends used oestrogen to the large intestine to poop out.  If you are not pooping daily then the used oestrogen gets resorbed into your bloodstream and ends up back at the liver which can lead to symptoms of oestrogen dominance such as acne, endometriosis, PMS, breast tenderness or migraines.

Your job is to:

  1. Feed the good microbes what they need to encourage growth.
  2. Starve the bad bacteria by avoiding the foods and other factors that allow them to thrive such as antibiotics, acid blockers, antiinflammatory drugs, hormones, stress, insufficient exercise and environmental toxins.

What foods should you feed your gut flora?

Prebiotics which are food for the good bacteria. Prebiotics are found in Almonds, Apples, Avocados, Bananas, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cashews, Grapefruit, Kale, Pistachios, Raw & Cooked Onions, Raw Asparagus, Raw Garlic, Seaweed and Snow Peas.

Probiotics which are transient live bacteria. Probiotics are found in foods such as Kefir, Kimchi, Acidophilus Milk, Sauerkraut, Tempeh, Miso,  Kombucha, Sourdough Bread, cultured yoghurt and in supplements (capsules or powders).

Some things you can do now…

  1. Eat well and eat the rainbow. Your gut microbiome responds to what you feed it. When you regularly eat a variety of healthy, non-processed foods, your microbiome becomes programmed to work for you by warding off disease. A gut-healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, plenty of polyphenols (red wine, dark chocolate, tea) and lots of water.
  2. Take a high-quality probiotic. Nearly everyone can benefit from supplementing with a good quality probiotic. Probiotics help maintain your gut’s ecosystem as well as the ecosystem of your respiratory tract and urogenital tract. Some of the benefits of taking a probiotic supplement or eating probiotic-rich foods are to prevent diarrhea, prevent eczema and acne, prevent disease, improve immunity, fight yeast and fungal infections, strengthen the gut barrier and help absorb nutrients from your food.
  3. Manage stress. Research shows that prolonged periods of stress can impair your gut bacteria and make you susceptible to infection.
  4. Sleep seven to nine hours at night. Your gut bacteria sleep when you sleep. Research has shown that one night of little sleep can lower the quality and quantity of your gut flora. Now, here’s the catch, your gut flora can affect your sleep patterns, so in order to get a good night’s sleep, you must improve your gut flora.
  5. Moderate exercise on a regular basis helps to maintain good bacteria levels.

So, if you want to be healthy, you have to get your gut working properly. However, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your gut microbiome. Your gut has a mind of its own. It’s crying for self-care, so the key is to listen to your body and to what it’s trying to tell you.

Reading this information is one thing but until its put into action it doesn’t mean much. Contact me for a FREE 30 minute session to look at how we can work together so that you can start to implement changes slowly into your lifestyle. marcelle@enlightenmyhealth.com.au

I would love to chat to you.



Medical Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For medical advice always consult your physician. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.
Marcelle Maisel

Health and Life Coach

Enlighten My Health

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