How your gut health affects your whole body

You are what you eat, really does ring true!

If you're feeling a bit down, instead of always blaming stress or your job or even the weather, maybe take a look at what you're eating.

The stomach stores food until the gut is ready to receive it. During this time experts have discovered that the gut microbes are in constant communication with the brain.

In fact, the gut is sometimes called the second brain. When the balance of the microbes change, it's thought this may affect how your brain processes information. This affects your mood, taste, sleep, metabolism, emotion and overall health.

So let’s take a look at some of the areas your gut is thought to influence.

The Heart

When you eat foods like red meat, your gut bacteria have a chemical reaction that forms TMAO ( trimethylamine-N-oxide). It is thought that TMAO helps to build cholesterol and research shows that this build-up can lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

Research is currently being undertaken into foods that can have a counter effect on TMAO. A substance called DMB that’s found in grapeseed and olive oil for example, is being looked at closely.

The nervous system

We have over 100 million nerve endings in our gut that communicate with our brain and nervous system. The nervous system, in turn, produces neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin which affect mood and mental health.

So you could say that our gut really does have feelings. Research suggests that changes in gut health can trigger mood changes and that people with gut disorders are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The Immune System

Did you know that up to 80% of your immune system is in your gut? And that by communicating with immune system cells the gut helps to boost our immune system.

A study from 2018 found that a baby’s gut bacteria varies depending on whether they are breast or formula-fed and that these bacteria can then impact their immunity.

The Skin

One study found that there was a relationship between gut health and inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Depending on which food we eat relates to how our body absorbs nutrients. If poor choices are made inflammation can be caused and can cause skin irritations.

Digestion

It may sound obvious, but what we eat also affects our digestion. If you suffer from any of the following it may be your gut telling you it’s not happy:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Skin irritation
  • Sleep problems
  • Tiredness
  • Excess gas
  • Weight gain
  • Sweet cravings  

Given what we know about how digestive health and how it is so inextricably linked to overall health, its impact on the immune system and mental health, it's vitally important to maintain a healthy gut.

Here are our top tips for keeping your gut healthy:

Eat a well-balanced diet 

that includes a mix of leafy, green vegetables as well as omega 3 fatty acids.

Food like kale, spinach, wheatgrass juice and salmon can help promote a healthy and diverse microbiome.

Limit your intake of red meats

High-fat foods and simple carbohydrates. As these can affect your gut microbiome in an adverse way.


Eat foods rich with probiotics

These can help boost the immune system and help digestion. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and yoghurts, are packed with probiotics.

Exercise

Helps to release stress-reducing endorphins and promote good bacteria in your gut.


Limit artificial sweeteners

Research studies with animals have found artificial sweeteners to have a negative effect on the microbiome.

Rats given aspartame had increased blood sugars and were unable to use the insulin their bodies made properly.

Sleep well

Our bodies repair when we are sleeping as does our gut. Try and get 7-8 hours per night.


Stay hydrated

Not only does this help with digestion but also has a beneficial effect on the lining of the stomach.


Chew

Chewing thoroughly can help the absorption of nutrients and promote digestive health.

Our gut and digestive system are at the very core of good health. Get that right and your body can perform at its best and fully absorb the nutrients it needs.

Eating better, exercising and being more mindful about eating healthy foods are great steps to improve the health of your gut.

Including wheatgrass juice as part of a balanced diet can help stabilise our gut bacteria, which is important for long-term health and wellbeing.