Do you love your Guts?
Over 2000 years ago Hippocrates made the bold statement that all disease begins in the gut. Clearly he was ahead of his time. We are finally catching up and realising the vital role these bacterial microbes play in our overall health. Bacteria is a bit of a dirty word, pun intended, but stay with me. There are about 100 trillion of these microbes in your gut, weighing up to 3kg, outnumbering your human cells 10 to 1 so they are worth knowing about.
Let’a talk about
- The what and why of gut bacteria
- What can go wrong and the symptoms
In Part 2 we chat about
- What to do to ensure you love your guts
- Which food to avoid and which to consume with abandon
- Plus a couple of delicious gut loving recipes.
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
Before we are even born, there are several species of lovely bugs already populating our intestines ready to get to work. More bacteria is added on the journey down the birth canal, with bubs first major exposure being the micro flora of mums vagina, closely followed by whatever is on the skin of those who hold us first. Focusing on loving your guts while you are pregnant goes a long way to ensure your little one has the best start. Babies born by caesarean don’t need to miss out, check out the practice of “seeding” or try putting a little probiotic powder on your nipple or bottle teat when feeding to help populate this tiny gut. You know how babies and toddlers are always putting things in their mouths, this is contributing to the bustling bacteria community. This community of bugs is not static, its constantly changing depending on where we live, our genetics, what we eat, what animals we are exposed to and even how stressed we are. The exact make up is individual to you, just like your finger print, see I told you they were cool.
What do these guys do anyway?
- Help release energy from our food
- Provide us with nutrients
- Assist in the synthesis of many of vitamins B, D and K
- Produce the hormone serotonin, the feel good hormone, too many of the bad guys can make us depressed
- Stop us getting sick, in fact 70% of your immune system is found in your gut
Do you see now why you should Love your guts?
What causes things to get out of whack?
- Prolonged and excessive stress, and really who isn’t stressed, just sit in traffic when you are late to a meeting.
- A diet which is high in sugar and processed foods, hello 3pm cake tin raid.
- Frequent antibiotic use, antibiotics basically kill all the bacteria both good and bad.
- Food Allergies or sensitivities (this is a little like which came first the chicken or the egg with many intolerances disappearing once gut health is restored)
- Parasites, this sounds pretty gross but is fairly common.
How many of these apply to you?
Now you know how things go wrong, but what does that feel like?
- The full list of symptoms is pretty long, these are the most common:
- Bloating/ burping and flatulence
- Frequent, urgent and unformed bowel movements or constipation
- Brain fog and lack of mental clarity
- Allergies/ skin issues
- Lack of energy/ mojo (sorry to say this but sex drive goes out the window)
- Anxiety/ depression
If you have more than one of the symptoms listed it’s worth looking at your gut as a cause.
So what do you do if you think your gut bacteria is out of balance?
Speak with a qualified practitioner and do some tests. This is as simple as peeing in a jar or as complex as supplying a stool sample, both pretty easy really.
Treatment is really pretty simple too. First you take supplements to get rid of the bad guys (weeding), then spending some time preparing your gut for the introduction of the good guys (feeding) and then making sure the good bacteria takes hold (seeding) so there is no room for the bad guys.
It’s worth noting immediately taking probiotic supplement is not necessarily be the answer and here’s why. Imagine that you are driving to the mall (your gut) in a beautiful Porsche (the probiotic) but when you get to the mall all the parking spots are taken by beat up old cars (the bad bacteria), it doesn’t matter that you have the greatest car ever if there is nowhere to park, then there is simply nowhere to park.
If you love your guts they will love you back.
Next time we cover exactly how to show your guts some love.