A healthy gut with a good balance of ‘friendly bacteria’ impacts on our general health & wellness and can affect the way we feel. The gut is a vital organ and it’s more complex than we might have first thought.
Here we reveal 10 surprising facts you might not have known about the gut:
- Our gut does more than process food!
It is also home to trillions of bacteria, viruses & fungi known as microbial community (microbiota).
- Some substances can kill our good bacteria & encourage bad bacteria to grow
Toxins to our gut include antibiotics, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, sugars, artificial food colouring, high fat-low fibre foods, processed foods, fizzy drinks, unhealthy oils and pesticides. In fact one course of antibiotics can disrupt your healthy gut flora for up to a year.
- Our gut affects our state of mind
It is thought that as well as nutrition and lifestyle choices, our state of mind may actually impact our digestive system. Interestingly, it seems the deal works both ways, scientists are increasingly convinced that the contents of our digestive system may have a major impact on our state of mind!
- Our second brain
Scientists have nicknamed the gut’s nervous system our ‘second brain’. The nervous system of the gut is able to regulate itself without brain interaction.
- Your gut contains over 60% of your immune system
“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins. “The immune system is inside your body, and the bacteria are outside your body.” And yet they interact. For example, certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut.
- There’s a link between your gut & stress
Studies have shown stress can affect out gut. Going through a stressful period can onset IBS symptoms and make them worse. It has also been found that stress can cause us to overeat and drink more alcohol both are which are not good for our guts.
- Our gut is sensitive to emotions
The brain affects the gut as it has a direct effect on the digestive tract as it’s sensitive to emotion, stress, anxiety and depression.
- Red wine is good for the gut!
There is some research to suggest a small amount of the antioxidants found in red wine can be beneficial to the gut microbiome (but please drink responsibly!).
- Your gut doesn’t need to be cleared out…
Detox diets and chronic irrigation have become popular as they claim to clean out your digestive system and get rid of toxins. But they are not actually needed. In fact waste and toxins pass out of our bodies naturally and don't need any help to do so.
- Eat more broccoli!
- There are certain foods that are good for your gut such as artichokes, broccoli, bananas, blueberries, beans, onion, garlic, nuts & wholegrain foods for example. Eating these can help our gut bacteria. However, you would need to eat 25.7 raw garlic cloves to make an actual ‘change’ to your gut bacteria.