Today I will be talking about gut health and why it is super important! As you will learn today gut health goes beyond our digestive system to affect other parts of our body. Also, the gut microbiome is a growing topic of research that is rooted in learning about the gut-brain connection. Everyone knows about prebiotics and probiotics but what about the bacteria balance? What foods tip the balance into unfavourable conditions? With some research, I will be explaining gut health, gut bacterias, foods that affect gut health, and gut-brain connections.
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So let's get into it!
- What Is Gut Health?
Gut health refers to the function of the gastrointestinal tract and also the balance of the bacterias present. Our gastrointestinal tract includes our mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, and anus. These parts in conjunction with our microbiome (gut bacterias) help digest our food with ease.
2. Bacterias and Balance
Surprisingly, our gut microbiome contains around 400 different types of bacteria. Shocking right! Our diet and lifestyle activities maintain or alter this dynamic equilibrium of bacteria. Furthermore, our gut microbiome can be compared to our fingerprint- it is unique to each individual. It is also believed that a disruption of the bacteria balance can be linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
3. Foods and Gut Health
So what foods help keep this bacteria balance in check? In general, a healthy balanced diet that is meeting your personal nutritional requirements should be enough (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, diversity, and caloric needs). On the other hand, here is a list of foods that are good for your GI- you'll notice that fermented foods, probiotics, and prebiotics and fibre are the theme!
Foods for Improving Gut Health
- Olive Oil
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Polyphenols (green tea, red wine, etc)
Foods to Avoid
- Artificial Sweeteners and High Sugar Foods
- Red Meats
- Highly Processed Foods
- Highly Refined Foods
- Fried Foods
4. Gut-Brain Connection
The gut-brain connection is defined as the communication between your GI and your brain. This connection is both physical and biochemical. Interestingly, this connection works both ways! This means the state of your mind can affect your gut and the state of your gut can affect your mind! For example, it is thought that your gut is related to anxiety and stress.
Activities to Improve Gut Health
- Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- Treat Depression
- Exercise (core)
- Staying Hydrated
- Eating slowly
Things to Avoid
- Overworking and Burn-out
- Irregular Sleep
- Food intolerances (dairy, wheat, etc)
- Unnecessary Antibiotics
- Environmental Stress (extreme heat, cold, or noise)
- Disruption of Circadian Rhythm
5. What Should You Do?
So with all this new information- what should you do? Well, the answer is simple, just eat healthily! You don't necessarily need to revamp your entire lifestyle and diet. Life and sustainability are all about balance and what feels best for you! Try out some new foods and cut back on a few things and figure out what works for you.
What do you think about gut health and the gut-mind connection? Are there things you need to avoid or incorporate into your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below!
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