Meet Your Second Brain: The Gut
What is the gut and why is gut health so important?
Gut health usually refers to the function and balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). Some parts of our GI tract includes the oesophagus, stomach, intestines which work together to eat and digest. However, most people these days have some form of gut issue due to lifestyle and diet factors (such as stress and poor nutrition). Some signs that indicate you have a gut issue are abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, loose stools, nausea and vomiting. Stress can also affect your gut, such as when you get a weird feeling in your stomach when you’re nervous etc. Constant fatigue is also a sign of gut health issues.
The gut is often referred to as ‘the second brain’ because the gut lining is made up of the same enzymes as the lining around the brain, hence the term gut-brain barrier.
So why is it so important to have good gut health? Well for one, your gut is responsible for a lot of things in the body, such as your immune system. Up to 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Poor gut health leads to a poor immune system which results in getting sick more often, cause hormonal imbalances and also increases the risk of other illnesses. Poor gut health can also result in skin issues such as eczema, acne and hives. Other more serious gut-related issues are IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease).
What are some easy ways to improve gut health?
- Minimise or avoid dairy & gluten intake; dairy and gluten can mess up the microbiome that is in our gut.
- Avoid processed foods; eat more fresh foods; processed foods usually contain a lot of preservatives which also messes up our gut bacteria.
- Supplement with Glutamine, Essential Amino Acids & probiotics
- Eat the rainbow with veggies of different colours, but make sure to cook all veggies, especially if you are prone to bloating. Vegetables have something called ‘phytic-acid’ which is an anti-nutrient; which strips away nutrients from the gut. Raw vegetables also ferment in your stomach which can lead to bloating, indigestion or stomach aches.
- Include fermented foods in your diet (e.g. kimchi, sauerkraut)
- Manage stress; stress affects digestion and the nutrients that the intestines absorb. Stress can affect the barrier of the intestines resulting in bacteria seeping through to the gut.