February 6, 2020
Past & Present: Gut Health
In recent years, gut health has been working its way up the Most Important Aspect of Our Health scale, and quite so. Heart health, sexual health, and mental health have all had their day. As important as these are, our gut health is important to get right.
A healthy gut contributes to the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. It's vital to get the most out of our diet. Besides that, a healthy gut connects to the health condition of other areas in the body. Mental health, immunity, and risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes contribute to the issues. In some cases, certain cancers linked to chronic inflammation. It’s the wild west.
Yet because of the yuk factor associated with gut health, it’s not something we often consider, let alone talk about. The entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract runs from our mouth to our anus. For this reason, our bathroom habits and so the topic of gut health is usually kept to ourselves.
If you suffer from GI distress symptoms such as bloating, excess wind, pain, nausea, constipation or loose stools, chances are your gut is crying for help.
How Our Immunity Links to Our Gut Health
One of the most unexpected discoveries on gut health is how it’s linked to our immune health. In the past, gut health only involved certain types of white blood cells and immune cells.
Researchers believe each cell within the lining of the gut secretes antibodies into the gut. These would have an effect on our immune health by remembering invading bad bacteria, engulfing and killing them.
Not only that, the GI tract is home to trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, known as our microbiota. Our microbiota is unique to us, dictated by the food diversity we eat, our genetics, where we live, and how often we travel outside of our usual environments.
Typically, healthy individuals have the most diverse microbiota – that is, their unique collection of gut microorganisms (often known as good bacteria, as they’re very much the good guys). Microbiota becomes more diverse by eating gut-healthy foods.
These good bugs (also known as probiotics) also help to keep the bad bugs at bay. If our microbiota is weak or not very diverse, it can allow bad bacteria to flourish, leading to disease and autoimmune disorders.
Maintaining a Healthy Gut
Gut healthy foods often contain ‘prebiotic fiber’. These fibers are a form we can’t digest, but probiotic bacteria can. Then the bacteria flourish. Choose chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, barley, and oats for a healthy gut.
It’s also a good idea to consume fermented foods and drinks that contain probiotic bacteria, such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and live yogurts void of added sugars.
Another way to help boost your gut health is to consider a nutraceutical such as AstraGin®. The ingredient supports a healthy gut environment and gut lining. AstraGin® helps the gut absorb key nutrients such as amino acids (the building blocks of protein), fatty acids and certain vitamins. Also, the ingredient helps support the microbiota in our gut to flourish by helping the gut wall provide the ideal conditions for their growth.
The question is: how healthy is your gut?
If you listened to your gut, what would it be trying to tell you?