Written by Zoe Knight
They say the gut is our second brain, yet the more it is studied, and the more we learn about it, the more I am convinced it is equally as powerful, and just as advanced as the brain itself…
We’ve all experienced gut instinct, or that gut wrenching feeling when we hear bad news – we’re all familiar with that sick to your stomach feeling that we can’t control. Well it turns out that the communication between your brain and your gut is bidirectional, and what that means, is that just as your brain can send messages to your stomach, your stomach can also send messages to your brain.
your brain can send messages to your stomach, your stomach can also send messages to your brain.
One of the main ways that this happens is via the vagus nerve. This is a nerve that runs from the brainstem to the abdomen by way of multiple organs including the heart, oesophagus and lungs. It is part of the involuntary nervous system and commands unconscious body procedures, such as keeping the heart rate constant and controlling food digestion.
The Intimate Relationship
Because of this intimate relationship between your brain, abdomen, and other major organs, it’s safe to say that the health of your gut pretty much dictates the health of your whole body. Your gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body. What that means, is that we are more bacterial, than we are human! So the type of bacteria that we harbour plays a very important role in factors such as how we feel, our mood, our food cravings, our digestion and absorption, our metabolism, our hormonal & neurotransmitter balances and production, our immune system functioning, our libido, detoxification, our energy levels, and even our body composition. And a lot of these processes factor significantly into whether or not we experience things like allergies, asthma, ADHD, diabetes or dementia. In fact, 90% of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut. And just as disease begins in the gut, so does health and vitality.
90% of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.
How Do We The Keep Balance?
So how do we ensure our bacteria are not only well balanced, but beneficial to us? The answer is simple – through what we feed it. Our body is more often than not, a direct result of the environment we put it in, and this includes the food we feed it. Food that good bacteria thrive off, are foods that are fermented like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh to name a few. You can even have a go at fermenting and pickling plant based foods yourself!
Stocking up on fibre is also a good way to ensure the balance of your bacteria doesn’t tip towards a bad, or detrimental imbalance. Fibre travels through your small intestine without being broken down, so it reaches your colon where bacteria gobble it up – and the good bacteria thrive on it! Eating plenty of green fibrous vegetables at every meal will ensure you get an adequate daily dose of fibre together with the added nutrients that vegetables provide.
Supplementing your diet with a high quality, high potency probiotic is also essential to good gut health because a lot of our modern day diet and lifestyle not only kill off good bacteria, (think antibiotics and stress) but they also feed the bad bacteria (think sugar). You can think of probiotics as being the good bacteria that is important for your digestive health and overall health, and prebiotics as anything that helps the probiotics grow (the food you feed it). When taking probiotics, there are many different strands that you can take, and each strand is responsible for different things – some benefit the immune system, some benefit the stomach, and some benefit the colon as an example. Choose a probiotic that has numerous strands for overall health and maintenance, and one whose potency is guaranteed past expiration date.
modern day diet and lifestyle not only kill off good bacteria, (think antibiotics and stress) but they also feed the bad bacteria (think sugar).
So, Gut Health Is?
Gut health is a topic that is vastly overlooked by the general population, yet it is a topic that when educated and acted upon, can play a bigger than expected role in improving what would seemly be unrelated symptoms (such as allergies and mood disorders) while decreasing the risk of illness and disease. It is a factor of your health that you can’t choose to ignore and one that your coaches here at OBF can help you become more educated on. After all, wouldn’t you want to be a healthier version of yourself whenever possible?
Contact OBF Gyms for a complementary assessment to get started with one of our trainers today!