How To Improve Your Gut Health
Ah, the gut, where would we be without it? Well, as 70% of our immune system resides there - not very far!
Not only is this complex system responsible for keeping our regular functions in check, but it also fulfils a number of essential tasks - from producing energy and controlling hormones to managing moods and disposing of waste - all from what we consume.
It makes sense, then, that a poorly performing gut will give way to a plethora of health issues. Think: irregular bowel movements, bloating, inflammation, irritability, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and even low levels of serotonin, the feel-good hormone.
What Is Gut Health?
The gut - or gastrointestinal tract - is a large tube that encompasses many organs and runs through the entire body.
Its main task is to take raw material (in the form of food), digest it into smaller quantities and release the nutrients, vitamins and minerals found within. The process of digestion requires the gut to produce enzymes to break down the sugar, fats and proteins.
The gut is sealed off from the rest of the body by an internal wall. This prevents serious illness. Once food is broken down, its essential nutrients can pass beyond the wall with the help of special transporters. Everything else is kept behind as waste - this includes bacteria, chemicals and other unwanted substances.
Good gut health means that all of these internal functions are working harmoniously. Yet, the smooth running of the gut can become compromised such as when following an unbalanced diet, regularly consuming processed foods, or taking antibiotics. With regards to processed foods, the body may not recognise these as digestible and will attempt to fight them off as a threat. In the case of antibiotics, these can clear your system of every type of bacteria - even the good kind! This allows “space” for organisms that are not affected by bacteria to grow more freely. One of the functions of “good bacteria” is to keep these organisms in check.
By taking the inner workings of the gut microbiome (the collective name for all the organisms present in the gastrointestinal tract) into account, you will ensure greater physical health. But how can this be done?
Foods To Ensure Good Gut Health
Obviously eating the right foods is vital for optimal gut health, in particular boosting your intake of prebiotic foods.
Prebiotics feed the healthy bacteria that live inside your gut, dietary fibre being the most common prebiotic. They can also help to reintroduce this kind of desirable bacteria back into your digestive system.
Our advice here is to add prebiotic foods to your diet slowly. To do otherwise will only lead to an increase in bloating or gas. Some of our favourite prebiotics include Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, chicory root, asparagus and green (not ripe!) bananas.
Supplements For Gut Health
As mentioned earlier, the taking of antibiotics, although sometimes necessary, can actually have a serious impact on our gut health. This is because their use can eliminate the bacteria that live in our gut for as long as two years or, in some instances, forever.
Such side effects are mitigated in certain European countries by taking a probiotic known as Saccharomyces boulardii alongside a course of antibiotics. Some probiotic strains have been shown to improve acne, inflammation and skin ageing, with better results normally seen from 15billion CFU and higher.
Prebiotics are the food that probiotics “eat”. Postbiotics are the results of when probiotics consume that food. It’s this postbiotic produce that gives health benefits and is what is found in fermented foods.
Eating fermented foods, such as miso, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi, may also be invaluable here, but this isn’t recommended if you have high levels of histamine or are prone to allergies. This is because some of the bacteria used in fermented foods are histamine producers and many of these foods contain higher levels of histamine.
Conversely, other probiotic strains like rhamnosus have a positive effect on histamine intolerance.
In most cases, the easiest way to improve your gut health is via a stool sample. Close analysis will then reveal anything that may be causing you problems.
Further Tips To Improve Your Gut Health
In addition to taking greater care over the foods you choose to eat - and supplementing these properly - an improvement in gut health can also come from following these simple steps:
- Eating slowly: Rushing through your meals is a sure-fire way to trigger digestive discomfort. Instead, take it easy when eating and chew your food thoroughly and slowly. This is the only way it will be fully digested.
- Establishing a sleep routine: An unhealthy gut can make it difficult to sleep, and a poor sleep routine can cause a variety of issues in the gut. Talk about a vicious cycle. To combat this, do your best to adhere to a regular sleep schedule and spend some time unwinding before you hit the hay. A large part of our serotonin is produced in the gut, so if this isn’t firing on all cylinders both our mood and sleep can be affected significantly.
- Drinking well: It’s hardly a secret, but staying hydrated is incredibly important in all areas of your life. By drinking water throughout the day, your gut is kept ticking over and its good bacteria is supported. The health of the intestines is also preserved in the process. Around 2 litres a day should suffice.
At humanpeople, we believe that testing is the key to helping you to understand what your gut needs and unlocking your body’s true potential. By analysing your blood, DNA and gut, we can put together a personalised monthly supplement combination to target the areas in which you may be lacking - to make you feel human again.
To start your journey with us, fill out our online consultation so we can assess your gut health and digestion score. You will also need to undergo a simple gut test so we can identify any areas in which you may be deficient, and we will then tailor your perfect combination to your test results.
Understanding the activity of the bacteria, microbes and other inhabitants that comprise the gut microbiome is key to a healthy and fulfilling life. This is a leading area of research, with around 9,500 publications currently being written on this topic every year.
Better gut health starts here at humanpeople. Join us today to find out more.