More and more research shows that the digestive system is accountable for 60-70 percent of our immune system! It has a vast impact on how we nourish our body and even has tremendous impact on our mental health.
The role of the gut flora
Our gut is inhabited by trillions of different types of bacteria; healthy and unhealthy bacteria are creating the environment in the entire digestive system. Since our gut health is tightly connected to the immune system and mental health, it plays an important part of our defence against disease, prevent allergies, and is, all in all, a very decisive factor when it comes to our overall health.
4 main reasons for the importance of the gut health
1. Produces your immune system: The gut lining produces immune cells that are the backbone of the immune system. A healthy gut creates an abundance of cells boosting your immune system. An unhealthy gut, with a dysfunctional gut lining, produces fewer immune-boosting cells creating risk factors for a whole range of diseases like asthma, allergies, type 2 diabetes, cancer, depression, different bowel diseases, etc. – the list is long.
2. Improves your digestion: When you eat, your food will be broken into the smallest possible parts in your intestinal system which are transported into your blood over the gut wall. A healthy gut is designed only to absorb the food when broken down completely. However, an unhealthy gut may not produce these enzymes. Lack of enzyme activity leaves partly undigested food in your system that is not absorbed as nourishment. The undigested food left in your gut is readily available for unhealthy bacteria, fungi, parasites and other ‘nasties’ living in your intestines to strive on.
3. Stops undesired absorption: In a healthy gut wall, the cells sit very close together. They only let in entirely digested molecules. However, if your gut is unhealthy, it may have tiny holes, allowing larger molecules into your system. As an example, instead of absorbing amino acids into your blood, you all of a sudden have parts of proteins in the blood. The body is not designed to handle parts of proteins in the blood and reacts by triggering the immune system. This may be what is leading to food intolerances, allergies and other autoimmune diseases.
4. Absorption of nutrients: A healthy gut produces a cell type called enterocytes, responsible for producing some vitamins and absorbing vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. In an unhealthy gut, the enterocytes are not produced in large scale leading to nutrient deficiencies, ultimately also leading to disease.
Improve your health by nourishing your gut
There is a constant battle between beneficial and harmful bacteria in your gut. Here is what you should do to nourish beneficial bacteria and prevent growth of the harmful microorganisms
Reduce, or even better, remove sugar from your diet
The harmful microorganisms in your gut live off the sugar you eat. Cutting them off their feed will make it easier for the beneficial bacteria to take control of the environment in your gut.
Remove artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners create an acidic environment where harmful bacteria strive AND an environment that is damaging for your gut’s beneficial bacteria.
Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods add beneficial bacteria to your gut. The bacteria are a natural component in foods like kefir, kimchee, sauerkraut, tempeh, and pickles.
Eat organic food free from pesticides and antibiotics
Pesticides and antibiotic remnants in food kill your gut’s beneficial bacteria.
Eat lots of organic raw or slightly cooked vegetables
Raw or slightly cooked vegetables contain what is called prebiotic fibres, compounds that benefit growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibits the harmful bacteria. Prebiotics are also found in honey, fruit and legumes.
Take a daily dose of probiotics
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that you add to your system. You can buy probiotics in your pharmacy or health food store and comes in many shapes and forms often in powder or a capsule. Make sure to buy probiotics of a high quality with more than 20 billion living organisms per dose of a variety of 7 or 8 different living bacteria.
Louise's Bio: Having worked within drug research of diabetes, obesity and lifestyle management for many years time has now come to work closer with how we can use food to prevent and cure disease. Louise is trained as a pharmacist and is studying naturopathy. She is also the founder of the website www.MyHealthyDXB.com as website for healthy food in Dubai.