Our gut is responsible for turning food into fuel for our bodies. It absorbs nutrients that support our body’s functions — energy production, toxin and waste elimination, hormone balance and overall health and wellbeing.
If we have a sluggish, “unhealthy gut” our body will not be able to absorb the nutrients we need for optimal health. This can impact our weight, mood, mental wellbeing and a number of other ailments.
Keeping our gut healthy boosts energy and ensures a healthy immune system.
Let’s talk digestion:
Digestion is how our body turns food into nutrients for the body to use. It starts in the mouth with our first bite. As we chew, we break the food down making it easier for our gut to digest it. At the same time, saliva mixes with our food and begins the digestion process changing our food into a form our body can absorb and use.
Many of us don’t chew our food for long enough, we wolf it down, skipping this important step in the process. Not only does the food not get broken into smaller pieces, but it doesn’t have enough time to mix with saliva.
Our food then enters our stomach. Acids and enzymes continue to breakdown the food into useful nutrients. Our food, now in an easily absorbed liquid form, moves to our small intestine, where digestion continues. Our small intestine is primarily responsible for absorbing the nutrients from our food into our bloodstream.
After absorbing nutrients our small intestine moves the waste to the large intestine. The large intestine takes care of waste removal.
Often when we think of our gut we just think digestion but our gut is so much more than that. It is fundamental to a healthy immune system, boundless energy, mental acuity, stable moods and general wellbeing.
Our gut helps:
1. Supports a healthy immune system.
A massive 70%-80% of our immune system is situated in our gut, right where the bulk of our beneficial bacteria (probiotics) live.
2. Gives natural energy boost.
Good gut bacteria help maintain our day-to-day energy levels.Probiotics help to break down our food and absorb the nutrients we need to feel great and have energy. They also work with our own body’s cells to help keep our blood sugar balanced.
3. Helps maintain ideal weight.
Probiotics support our metabolism and a healthy weight by producing enzymes that help us digest food and absorb nutrients, regulating our blood sugar levels.
4. Helps focus.
Probiotics in our gut communicate with our brain via the vagus nerve, which runs from our head to our abdomen. Communication flows up and down—beneficial bacteria send mind-boosting chemicals and messages to the brain that improve memory and cognitive function.
5. Boosts mood
Our gut bacteria produce more than 90 percent of all the serotonin (the “happy” chemical that plays a role in everything from mood and appetite to sleep) in our body! Probiotics can also lower cortisol (the “stress” hormone) levels.
6. Supporting a glowing skin.
When our gut is able to absorb nutrients—thanks to our friendly bacteria—and get rid of toxins and chemicals, our whole body benefits including our skin.
In short what do our gut bacteria do?
Roles of gut bacteria include:
- Helping to produce hormones, like serotonin
- Aiding in the extraction of energy and nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and antioxidants
- Managing our appetite and body weight
- Digesting fibre which helps form stool
- Controlling our moods, motivation and cognitive health
- Preventing us from catching colds and viruses
- Helping repair damaged tissues and injuries
- Much, much more
Many people have a damaged gut wall because of poor food choices, viruses, parasites, caffeine, alcohol consumption, antibiotics and bad bacteria that cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract.
What Damages the gut?
Foods that trigger an allergic response (dairy, wheat)
Practical steps to help our gut:
- Eat less
- Chew our food (20 chews per bit)
- Drink filtered water between meals. It helps flush out toxins
- Maintain good amounts of hydrochloride acid and digestive enzymes by drinking warm lemon water in the morning
- Eat plenty of prebiotic foods,they help to feed friendly bacteria and allow them to thrive in a healthy environment(Bananas are a great source of prebiotics)
- Eat more probiotic rich foods,they help bolster our defences(Yogurt, kefir,fermented foods)
- Eat more vegetables
- Load up on fibre
- Eat calmly and mindfully
- Reduces stressors
- Think about including some of the following in our diet:
- L-Glutamine – Helps to heal and seal the gut
- Quality Fish Oil– This helps reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and supports the immune system.
- Cinnamon– It can help to improve digestion and is great at balancing blood sugar levels.
- Mint– Great at soothing the stomach and can help to relax the gastrointestinal tract.
- Zinc– Very important as it is utilized to form digestive enzymes and also used in regulating hormones.
- PH Balancing or Alkaline Foods– like kale, spinach, broccoli, wheatgrass, parsley, chlorella, and spirulina.
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