Learn how to restore your gut flora and improve your health!
You may have heard all the hype lately about gut health but do you know why it’s so important?
One of the guts most important jobs is to act as a storage site for friendly bacteria. For every human cell there is 10 microbes and most of these live in the digestive tract. Think of it like the tropical rainforest of your body so it is literally teeming with multiple organisms, we need these organisms for the health of our immune system, mental health, metabolism and more!
The gut flora has many roles, it aids in digestion and produces vitamins and other compounds that affect your health. It also helps to stop the invasion of bad bacteria, toxins and yeasts. Our gut flora can help to neutralise some of the toxic by-products of digestion and it has important links to the immune system. Not only that our gut has many feedback mechanisms linking it to the brain, the heart, lungs, liver and the kidneys. Therefore having poor gut health can contribute to many issues including weight gain, depression, anxiety, IBS, fatigue, chronic colds and chronic ill health.
Mood and food. There is a strong link between our bowel flora and the way we feel. Some microbes in the bowel produce GABA, which converts to dopamine, a feel good hormone. Therefore if we don’t have enough of these microbes it can affect our mood.
Stress and the gut. The gut is like a helper for the brain so it makes sense that stress will have an effect on how it functions. Disturbances of the gut-brain connection have been implicated in a wide range of disorders, including obesity, colitis, peptic ulcer, reflux and even eating disorders. Exposure to stress results in alterations of these brain-gut interactions.
It’s not so much about reducing stress because this is hard to do but we can manage how we react to stress. If you can incorporate things into your life that will be a support to you during stress then this will help you cope. Things like tai chi, yoga, meditation, swimming even walking along the beach will all reduce your stress levels.
The gut and weight. It’s been proven that people who suffer with obesity are more likely to have higher amounts of the bacteria Firmicutes and lower levels of Bacteroidetes. Having the balance of the right bacteria can affect how your body utilizes calories.
Breathing and the gut, the gut and the lungs share a mucosal system and gut metabolites have now been linked to some lung diseases.
The immune system and the gut. This would have to be one of the most important roles of our bowel flora, when some microbes die off they produce an endotoxin which gets transported to the liver. These toxins are then distributed around the body. This is what causes systemic inflammation and can lead to things like chronic pain, migraines and a whole array of health complaints. On a more positive note there is much you can do to restore your bowel flora and create a healthier immune system and overall balance in the body.
How to restore gut flora. Foods such as gluten and sugar will have a negative impact on the gut. Sugar will feed the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria, which will further damage your gut and gluten can affect how the immune system functions. Drugs such as antibiotics, steroids and pain killers affect the gut flora in a negative way, they can eradicate some flora completely and give you thrush and diarrhoea.
A really simple way of improving your gut flora is to eat a variety of plant based foods. These can include nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, legumes, pulses and beans. Fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kim chi are also helpful but you don’t need a lot of these foods, and they are best avoided if you suffer from Candida.
Ultimately increasing your micro biome diversity will help if you want to lose weight, alleviate depression or anxiety, reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease or improve the functioning of your immune system and so much more!
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