Did you know a healthy gut is now considered one of the most essential aspects of optimal health?
Do you suffer with intestinal problems?
Yes? Then you will probably know more than me on the things that effect your gut health. Certain foods, stress, alcohol?
Do you suffer with any other health condition?
Then read on, as you may be surprised at how far reaching intestinal problems can be throughout the body.
The bacteria living in your gut are called your “Gut Microbiome” and the research (which is still in its infancy but growing at a massive rate) shows it’s a living organ with a critical impact on your health and wellbeing.
You may not EVEN realise your problem is stemming from gut / intestinal problems.
The infographic shows health issues that can be linked to gut health dysfunction.
Of course, you should always work closely with your GP on any health issues but there is a huge amount you can do yourself to improve your gut health and in turn your wellbeing.
That’s the great thing for many of us, our health is in our own hands.
So, take control of your health, taking control is the biggest thing you can do to improve your health today!
First step – remove processed foods and eat fresh, natural food. I know it sounds simple, and you’ve heard it a thousand times before but it’s definitely number 1.
Here’s why (we are not talking calories, sugar and weight loss here). Any unnatural food you consume is a foreign invader in the system.
Let’s take pizza and coke – your gut has no idea what pizza and coke is! Literally, none! All it knows is that it shouldn’t be in here and it has to be broken down and expelled.
Like your body doesn’t have enough to do already!
So, there it is, a ton (well not literally!) of processed food that is going to have a hugely negative impact on your gut health. In the short term by affecting your Gut Microbiome and long term by potentially causing damage to the lining of the gut wall and raising inflammation levels.
This is when your gut bacteria step in.
It’s believed there are 100 trillion or so bacteria that live in your gut, commonly referred to as your ‘Gut Microbiome’. The Gut Microbiome is now considered to be almost an organ in it’s own right and perhaps as important to your health and happiness as your genes.
Healthy Gut Bacteria
A 100 trillion is a phenomenal number isn’t it, some bacteria do positive work and some do negative work. You want the good bacteria dominating and doing incredible things that contribute to your wellness as mentioned in the infographic above.
See, your body already has the tools it needs to be healthy – it’s us that comes along and messes stuff up! Damn you pizza and coke!
But fear not, your gut is incredibly flexible and reactive and just by you removing the wrong foods and eating the right ones in as little as 4 – 7 days you can begin to reduce symptoms and gently start a recovery process. Yep, your body can begin the recovery processes that quickly.
For example, if you suffer from food intolerances, possibly unknown to you, in as little as 7 days (sometimes around 10 days) of complete avoidance of that food your symptoms may significantly reduce.
Linked to food intolerances, are your energy levels. If you generally feel sluggish or tired removing potential foods triggers can significantly improve your energy levels. This is something very close to me as I discuss further down the blog.
There will still be lots of other work to do as reducing symptoms by removing certain “dietary triggers” doesn’t mean your problems are resolved but it’s a great start.
You see, the bacteria in your gut are alive and they need feeding with with fresh, natural food, this will ensure the good bacteria remain dominate in your gut and do the good work you need.
The Gut Microbiome
So, you now understand that all the bacteria in your gut are referred to as the Gut Microbiome which is a living organism reacting to the foods and drinks we consume and airborne bacteria and viruses that enter our body.
70 – 80% of your immune system resides in your gut so it really is your first and main line of defence.
Bacteria starts entering our system during birth and then from our very first breath – both healthy and unhealthy bacteria enter the body.
Of course, we can’t prevent that, but we can significantly affect the impact bacteria has on us via our lifestyle and eating habits.
Gut Bacteria are classified according to:
1. Genus (e.g.Lactobacillus)
2. Species (e.g.Acidophilus)
3. Strain (e.g. NCFM®)
There are a huge range of probiotic supplements (now commonly referred to as healthy gut bacteria or live gut bacteria) available.
For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® is the best-studied probiotic strain in the world and has over 60 clinical studies demonstrating it’s extensive health benefits.
The most extensively researched strains include:
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®
Lactobacillus paracasei lpc-37
Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07
Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-04
A combination of some of these should be in a high quality supplement.
I take the Ultraprobioblex product (pictured below) 1 – 2 times daily
Remember, optimal balance of your Gut Microbiome is hugely affected by your food choices. The bacteria that are beneficial to us thrive on healthy, fresh, natural food.
However, if you start piling in rubbish food the bad bacteria start feeding, feeding big time and they can very much become the dominant players affecting most aspects of health.
Depending on how sensitive and reactive you are, even a very small piece of a particular food can cause a negative reaction.
This can lead to a classic scenario of a bacteria imbalance. In turn, this can create a whole host of problems like IBS and IBD but also those problems we mentioned above that may not be quite so obvious to you.
Food intolerances can gradually increase over time as your body starts to become hypersensitive to certain foods, which is why symptoms can get worse. Long term, 3 – 6 months of total avoidance of the offending food can allow you to go back to consuming that food, usually occasionally more than regularly though.
How Gut Dysfunction Affects Every System in the Body
Many things happen in the gut that affects how our body (yes the entire human system) functions. One is levels of inflammation rise, foreign invaders (such as processed foods) need breaking down and removing and this process can create an inflammatory response.
So, simply removing processed food is a great way to reduce your risk of chronic diseases by lowering inflammation.
If you only take one thing from this article then it is this.
Everything you eat and drink affects your gut bacteria both positively and negatively, good health starts from within, it starts with a healthy gut.
I’m a Nutritional Therapist (I qualified in 2008 if I remember correctly). But what I do remember for sure, was that the very first module we studied was on the Digestive system – such was its importance. It’s now clear to me why it’s so important.
I’ve learned the hard way from being plagued with tiredness for over 20 years that wheat, dairy, yeasts (various sugars) and certain starchy carbs do not suit me at all.
I took a York Food Intolerance test several years ago and it flagged wheat, dairy, yeasts as high reactions and gluten as a medium reaction.
This was despite me rarely eating them as I had suspected for a while that they were causing some of my problems.
I am definitely hyper sensitive to these food types.
Now, being reactive to that little lot means avoidance is my best option.
However, socially etc complete avoidance is not always easy so I have found that if I do eat something like the above, then taking a probiotic and digestive enzymes can really help counter the negative effects I experience from those food.
They are my helpers when needed and have a made a huge difference in terms of my energy.
Here’s what I take most days.
How do I know if I need to Improve my Gut Health?
Have you eaten processed food or ever drunk alcohol?!
Yep, that’s how sensitive your gut is so most people will benefit from improving their gut health. Alcohol is actually one of the worse things for irrating and damaging the Intestinal Wall and Gut Microbiome.
Look at the infographic again at the top of the blog.
Do you suffer with anything on that list?
By nature, we are all very different. We are different in the way we walk, talk and look so it stands to reason that we are also very different on the inside in terms of how our organs function and how food affects us.
Now, of course, I know lots of people that generally eat what they want and go about their life without any noticeable problems. However, there are others that have constant problems. As I’ve mentioned above, I seem to be one of those that is sensitive to most processed foods, grains, various sugars and dairy.
If you struggle with low energy I would definitley suspect or investigate potential food intolerances.
5 steps to Improving your Gut Health
Nutritional Therapists have a 5 step protocol to improving gut health termed the 5 “R” Approach
If you suffer with any health conditions then start with the basics. Gut health really is your Nutritional Core and number 1 place to start.
You can easily follow a sensible 5 “R” approach above by making small sensible changes to your diet. Removing processed foods and elimanting processed sugars are 2 great places to start.
If you need any specific help or guidance or want to order a food intolerance test then pop us an email and we'll be glad to help
How to make Positive Changes to your Eating Habits
We recently wrote a blog on goal setting and how to implement it in to your lifestyle. You can read it here and we’ll be writing a lot more about the topic going forward.
The research shows that it’s how you approach your eating habits that is key to implementing successful changes.
A positive approach would be “I’m going to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables”.
As opposed to a negative approach such as “I’m going to stop eating cake”
Here is What You Need to do right NOW!
Take just 10 minutes to assess your current health.
- Do you feel that you are in good health, have good digestion and lots of energy?
- Do you have any underlying medical conditions?
- Decide on 1 – 3 things you would like to change to improve your gut health.
- Decide today on which of those changes that you can implement right now to improve your eating habits and reduce the burden on your intestinal tract.
Maybe it’s to throw out some of the simple sugary products like chocolates, biscuits and cakes you have in your cupboard and replace them fresh fruit and natural yoghurt as healthy, tasty snacks.
Change can always seem over whelming so begin slowly with small things you can do right now. Enjoy the changes you are going to make and always focus on the positives.
And, please don’t overly think about food intolerances right now.
For the majority of people eating fresh, natural food will make a huge impact on their health.