Surely you’re all familiar with the sayings ‘Listen to your gut’, ‘follow your gut instinct ‘and ‘I’ve got a gut wrenching feeling about this’ but have you ever questioned their significance? You may be surprised to know that these mind – gut connected phrases have not simply been strung together for metaphorical effect but are actually rather meaningful. Interestingly, the state of our gut does not only affect our physical health but can also impact our mental health too. Let’s explore these factors a little further before looking into some simple steps we can take to keep our gut healthy.
The gastronomical tract (the gut) is a system of organs that takes in food and then digests it to extract energy and nutrients. The GI covers a significant area of the body, starting in the mouth and ending at the rectum. It is home to approximately 100 trillion bacteria also known as gut flora or microbiome. This bacteria’s role within the body includes:
- Aiding digestion and nutrient absorption
- Breaking down toxins
- Protecting us against pathogens
- Training our immune systems
- Psychological wellbeing
- Produces vitamins A and K
Pretty impressive, right? Additionally, plenty of research has been consistently conducted into the correlation between the brain and the gut. This is why you may have heard the gut being referred to as ‘the second brain’. Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network or neurons and hormones located in the gut known as the enteric nervous system. It is now believed over 90 per cent of our serotonin is made in the gut, meaning poor gut health can severely affect our mood and has been linked to anxiety and depression.
So now we know a little bit about how important our gut is, it’s time to find out what small changes we can implement in order to increase chances of optimum gut health:
Pack in those probiotics—good bacteria that live in your gut and support the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Probiotic rich foods include – cow and goat’s milk, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. And, while you’re at it, make sure to include plenty of Prebiotics in your shopping trolley too! Prebiotics such as Jerusalem artichokes, leeks and onions nourish the good bacteria in your gut.
Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more because H20 is your guts best friend! Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day because sufficient hydration provides the moisture needed to help your digestive system run smoothly.
Working up a sweat can help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut and increase bowel motility. Also, when you move your body, you stimulate your lymphatic system, the system that helps your body to remove toxins and maintain a healthy circulation. So move in a way that makes you feel good, whether that be a brisk walk in the mornings or an energetic HIIT session at the gym!
Avoid processed foods high in refined sugars and saturated fats. These foods may feel like a great way to relieve stress afters a hard day’s work but in reality they cause havoc on your gut and really aren’t worth the immediate short – term satisfaction. Sugary foods are the main culprits of feeding bad bacteria and upsetting the balance of good and bad flora. So stick to healthy whole foods and you’re winning!
So to round this off let’s keep it short and sweet: When your gut is well and happy you are much more likely to feel well and happy too! So relax, move your body and indulge in wholesome good food – like a little tub of probiotic rich Coppa della Maga.