Guts – we all have em’ (physically) but what purpose do they serve in our bodies and how important are they? Let’s start by identifying what our gut consist within our body. The gut also known as the gastrointestinal system is a group of organs consisting of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon and rectum and serves many important health promoting systems within our body. For starters, they are responsible for the absorption of nutrients in the body – it is this digestive process that provides the body essential building blocks to thrive. Additionally, these digestive organs also act as a communication center to and from the brain, influencing our mood and emotions to our memory and cognitive ability which is why often the gut is called the “second brain”.
As gut health is becoming a highly increased research topic in the medical community, some important issues pertaining to the importance of maintaining it has come to light. Numerous studies have shown that there are links between our gut microbes to diseases within the digestive system to seemingly unassociated conditions that affect other parts of the body, ranging from allergies, mental health, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. In short, maintaining our gut microbiome is essential if we want to achieve overall health within our body.
One way we can maintain our gut health is by consuming a variety of fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt to name a few as they contain good, nourishing bacteria that will aid the body in fighting off the bad “bugs” in the body. It has been suggested that probiotic rich foods tend to reduce inflammatory bowel issues, enhance immune system functions and even improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
A healthy diet rich in fibre, vegetables and fruits is another step on the path to building a strong and varied ecosystem of microbes in your gut. These foods are considered as prebiotics, which are the types of fibre that feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. Research indicates that microbiome diversity is a positive thing, while lack of diversity is associated with poor health and disease.
Let’s not forget, there are also other aspects like getting enough sleep, adequate exercise, staying hydrated and even taking in some sunlight that are parts and pieces that can change the composition and function of our gut microbiota for the good or bad. While we may still have a lot to learn about this gut stuff, we do have the capacity for self-reflection and power to affect the health of our gut microbiota. So if you care to live till you see your grandchildren, take action now by making simple lifestyle changes, you might just be surprised at how your body might thank you in return!