What the Gut?

Updated: Oct 23, 2019


It seems like the new #guthealth is everywhere and there's a new diet every 5 seconds being claimed as the latest and greatest for your gut, mood, inflammation, weight, sleep, disease etc etc. So What the Gut is it all about?


So often people think of the digestive system is just the ‘thing’ we use to get food into our body but it’s actually more than that. A lot more.


It's now widely recognised that there is a connection between your digestive health - and well, pretty much everything else. When you have a deeper look at the anatomy and physiology of the digestive system and how the digestive tissue pretty much comes from the same cells as your brain, it starts to make sense that there's a connection there. And then there's the gut bacteria....the "microbiome"


Credit: Natalieconstancehall, Digestive System Diagram, CC BY 4.0

The digestive system is a direct link to our immune system, in fact almost 80% of our immune system lives in the gut!


It has it's own neurological system. A second 'brain' that communicates with our nervous system.

Think of the language that we use everyday that links out feelings to our digestive system. For example, when you've been turned off something.....“Sick to my stomach” and when you've had enough of something, “Had a gut full”. And consider how often would you either eat when feeling sad (emotional eating) or not eat when feeling stressed?


Once you dive into the world of digestion, it opens up an incredible but complex human system. If at any stage it's compromised, a domino effect takes place. The body, in its infinite wisdom, will work hard to repair and establish balance (known as homeostasis) but at some point, over time, it can break.


In terms of digestion, this is when food can no longer be broken down and digested properly which means then nutrients can't be absorbed and utilised by the body to do the thousands of things it needs to do. It also leads to a range of unpleasant symptoms that if ignored, can worsen over time.


Leaky Gut


You may be familiar with the term "leaky gut". This is another term for increased intestinal permeability or intestinal hyperpermeability. This can happen when the tight gap junctions in the gut, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don't work properly and let substances leak into the bloodstream. When this happens, the body goes into a kind of alert status and mounts a defence response. This defence response includes inflammation, and from inflammation, adverse symptoms and ill health results.


More about that later.


The Microbiome


Of late #guthealth has become an increasing area of research and the gut "microbiome" is quickly becoming a fundamental focus for treatment of many ailments be they physical, mental, disease or digestive.


The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes ie bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live on and inside the human body. When referring to the gut microbiome, we're talking about the microbes that reside in the gut. It is the colony of bacteria housed in large intestine and weighs an astonishing 1-2 kg!!!


In healthy individuals, microbes can exist quite happily alongside each other. But should the internal environment change for any reason (due to medication, pain killers, antibiotics, stress, parasites etc), some bacteria can wreak havoc by overgrowing and producing toxins. And some should (perhaps) not be there at all.


When you consider that bacteria outnumbers human cells at about 10:1 and that our gut hosts between 500 and 2000 species of microorganisms, it's important that we pay attention to our gut. When the gut microbiome is imbalanced, 'bad' things happen.


So you may still be wondering why does this matter? Because....


Your gut microbiome influences your overall health including:


•Synthesis of vitamins

•Absorption of nutrients

•Hormonal health

•Weight management

•Blood glucose control

•Mood management

•Modulates the immune system


And when it's not happy it can lead to:-


The Obvious Signs & Symptoms


•Bloating

•Diarrhoea / Constipation

•Gas

•Food intolerance


The 'Not-So-Obvious' Signs & Symptoms….


•Fatigue

•Autoimmune disease

•Mood swings

•Pain

•Skin conditions

•Headaches

•Brain fog


So why does it become imbalanced? And What the Gut can you do about it?

See next blog coming up


Rachel

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DISCLAIMER

This is for information purposes and it not intended to be used as medical advice.


FURTHER INFORMATION / RESOURCES

"Clever Guts" by Michael Mosley https://cleverguts.com/

"Gut Health" by Chris Kresser

"The Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290017/

© 2019 Rachel Weaver | All Rights Reserved | Website by Sticky Studio

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