“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates.
Our gut plays a vital role in out well-being; from weight gain to mental health and physical fitness. Healthy gut promotes health and fitness of an individual. Perhaps that’s why it is often said that a healthier guts ensures happier you. There have been ongoing studies showing that healthy gut is critical to overall health and well being, and that an unhealthy gut contributes to wide range of range of diseases.
Gut is where the most important functions of the body takes place I.e. Digestion and Metabolism. Metabolism is the process through which body takes up essential nutrients from the digested food and supplies it throughout the body for production of energy. This energy is in turn used by the cells and organs inside our bodies to perform their everyday functions. Therefore, the condition of your health and wellness greatly relies on how your gut is performing!
Recent studies have also discovered that healthier gut also contributes to enhanced mood. “Overall, these studies in healthy individuals provide clear evidence of a link between microbiota and emotional processing,” report by Linghong Zhou and Jane A. Foster
HOW TO IDENTIFY YOUR GUT IS UNWELL?
Although there aren’t any tools that can precisely tell about the condition of your gut, but medicine uses two variables on which the gut health can be determined. These two variables are:
- The Gut Flora: Also known as the intestinal microbiota or the healthy bacteria, which naturally resides inside our gut to maintain its health. Human gut is home to trillions of bacteria with over 400 known diverse bacterial strains. The gut flora is responsible for ensuring optimal gastrointestinal function, protection against various infections, enhanced metabolism and improved immune system. But sometimes due to various unhealthy factors, the gut balance goes out of whack; the equilibrium of good bacteria to bad bacteria is disrupted and contributes to conditions like diarrhea, Irritable Down Syndrome, inflammation, yeast infections, chronic infections, eczema/psoriasis and even diabetes. Therefore, it is imperative that the balance between good and bad bacteria is maintained for proper functioning of the gut.
- The Gut Barrier: It is the gatekeeper of the gut that decided what goes inside the digestive system and what stays out. The gut is responsible for retaining vital components of the consumed food inside the body while expelling the unhealthy or harmful part out of the body. But sometimes, the walls of the gut become permeable or leaky, allowing large molecules to escape in the bloodstream. Since these molecules don’t belong outside the gut, the body’s immune system senses it as a threat and starts attacking these molecules, leading to autoimmune diseases.
HOW YOU CAN HELP YOUR GUT?
Maintaining optimal gut health is as simple as making the right food and drink choices. There are several foods that promote gut health and may even help heal any troubles going on inside the gut. The list of foods improving and restoring the wellness of your gut is given below.
FOODS THAT PROMOTE GUT HEALTH
- Fiber Rich Foods: Experts are of the viewpoint that eating more fiber everyday is important for maintaining a healthy gut, which leads to smooth digestion and improved metabolism. Fruits, vegetables and legumes are some of the natural sources of fiber.
Fiber is the fuel your gut needs to carry out digestion. But in the absence of this fuel, the gut begins to consume the gut lining in order to gain the energy it requires. This results in thinning and permeability of the gut wall; a major contributor to breakdown of gut barrier and autoimmune diseases.
- Probiotics: Probiotics, the good gut bacteria keeps your GI system in a tip-top shape. To maintain a healthy balance of good vs bad bacteria it is important to help the good bugs and consume foods that contain probiotics, such as Yogurt, sauerkraut, miso paste, kefir, pickles, sourdough bread etc. Consuming these probiotic foods will ensure that the gut flora maintains its balance and prevents the unhealthy bacteria from dominating your gut and causing troubles.
- There are several probiotic supplements available in the market, but it is always a good choice to prefer natural sources of probiotics over processed ones.
- Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Consuming anti-inflammatory foods like fish, green tea, flaxseed, garlic and walnuts and spices like cinnamon and ginger greatly contribute to gut health and enhanced metabolism and overall health.
Inflammation is caused by imbalance of bacteria and yeast in the GI tract. This leads to low grade food allergies and other digestive problems; compelling your immune system to overreact to bacteria in the gut and give rise to other diseases.
These foods not only soothe inflammation but also help body flush out toxins and other harful elements.
- PH BALANCING FOODS: Alkaline foods include leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, parsley, chlorella and spirulina. These foods aid in maintaining the PH levels of your gut and keep the stomach acid levels in order.
The industrialization of our food supply has significantly altered our diets. Our food now is processed and contains high amounts of sugars, fats and other elements that contributes to unhealthy gut by creating an imbalance in the gut flora. Maintaining the balance of your gut bacteria is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy and prevent various diseases, and the foundation of healthy gut begins with what you eat and what goes inside your bellies. Hopefully the foods mentioned above will help you grow a better, bug free inner garden of gut flora that supports your immune system and promotes mental and physical well-being.