We often hear the word’s ‘trust your gut’ and it’s a phrase that I 100% live by (after ignoring it one too many times and really regretting it!), however now more than ever it is so important to take those words literally. Let me try and explain why…
We are covered in and need bacteria in and on our bodies, but it’s how we treat and nurture them that’s important – I’m going to teach you how to harness your ‘good bugs’
Have you heard of the microbiome?
The friendly microorganisms that support our health and share a powerful and mutually beneficial relationship with our bodies.
The term Microbiome comes from the combination of ‘micro’ meaning super small or microscopic and ‘biome’ which refers to a naturally occurring community of life forms occupying a large habitat – in this case the human body. This mini ‘eco system’ includes a diverse collection of microorganisms – mainly bacteria, funghi and viruses.
The bacteria that thrive in our intestines are especially important, they play a HUGE role in everything that we do from speed and metabolism, mental health and energy, to more medical related conditions such as Diabetes, obesity and auto immune disorders.
And the most fascinating thing of all is the part that is referred to as ‘the last mile’ – the connection between the brain, the gut and the skin – in a nutshell, what is going on in your gut right now, will have a severe impact on how your brain performs and your skin looks, feels and behaves. They all talk to each other. In fact your skin contains the same cells as SIXTEEN human brains!! (that would make a great quiz question!)
The microbiome may weigh as much as five pounds (another amazing factoid!)., but the bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation.
What that means in a nutshell:
Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes. The gut microbiome plays a very important role in your health by helping control digestion and benefiting your immune system and many other aspects of health.
Here’s how you can start to make a change to your gut health:
- Take probiotics and eat fermented foods.
- Eat prebiotic fibre.
- Eat less sugar and sweeteners.
- Reduce stress.
- Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily.
- Exercise regularly, keeping it varied
- Get enough sleep.
- Use different cleaning products
- Avoid smoking
- Eat vegetarian food
Our lifestyle and the foods we eat are the BIGGEST factors and really the most obvious contributors to the damage sustained in the gut, but many other things also can play a part.
For example, the amount of medication we are prescribed for common ailments, it can take up to 6 months for your gut to get over a course of antibiotics, so if you have been on a repeated or intensive dose of strong antibiotics this can cause major problems – when they are needed, antibiotics can be life-savers, but the routine over use of such medication can cause us serious stomach issues, as they just wipe out all the good, as well as all the bad bacteria.
Diet is a major factor in keeping a balanced Microbiome – remember, we are what we absorb. But it is not as simple as just saying “Don’t eat this – and do eat that”.
Over the last 50 years, we have, as consumers, demanded our foods to be provided to us in easier, longer-lasting, more colourful ways – and this has had an impact on the nutrition of the foods we consume today. That burger for example, was made to look healthy, but is it?
Our desire to keep food “Shelf-stable” for longer, to look more appetizing, to have “low-fat” or “low-sugar” alternatives has meant that we have moved from food which pretty much did what it said on the box, to something else entirely, now not even resembling it’s original product. They are also usually packed full of chemicals and false flavourings to make them more ‘appealing’ to the consumer. In generalised terms if it has ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’ on the label – avoid like the plague!! It’s nothing but a chemical sh*tstorm for your body!
We have sacrificed good quality nutrition for ease and convenience. We can blame the manufacturers to an extent, but ultimately they are delivering what we are demanding. Ultimately this is having a profound effect on our overall well being, our mental health and our skin – usually when our insides are unhappy we see it on our face and body via our skin.
Whilst there are aspects of Environmental Pollution that we can affect through education and changing mindsets, there is another area that we can more directly affect.
POPs (persistant organic pollutants) can play a significant negative effect on human health and the environment. We are exposed to POPs in a variety of ways, mainly through the food we eat, but also through the air we breathe and in many products used in our daily lives.
Manufacturers have added POPs to improve product characteristics, examples are surfactants, like detergents, emulsifiers, foaming agents and dispersants. As a result, POPs can be found virtually everywhere on our planet in measurable concentrations and that means they are also found in us.
When all these attacks happen on the gut, for some people, the lining of the gut wall can become damaged – this lining, called the intestinal mucosal barrier, consists of a single layer of cells. The junctions between these cells are usually kept very tight. However, when bad bacteria attacks this gut lining, it can cause what doctors call “intestinal permeability” and what we know as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
People suffering from this syndrome can experience a range of conditions, due to bacteria, toxins and sometimes even undigested food passing through these leaky junctions into the bloodstream, which then causes the body to react by trying to defend itself – causing systemic inflammation.
It’s time to start listening to your gut folks’ and taking action on the messages it’s sending.