The human gut is a fascinating piece of biological engineering, and much more helpful than we give it credit for. In fact, father of medicine Hippocrates once said that ‘all disease begins in the gut’. While we now know this was somewhat of an exaggeration, it highlights the central importance of the gut in our health and wellbeing. When we talk about ‘gut health’, we are often referring specifically to the gut microbiome. This is the eco-system of bacteria that resides in the gut, comprising ‘good’ bacteria that have certain advantages to health, and ‘bad’ bacteria that are less beneficial to us. Because your gut composition is as unique as your fingerprint, and there is only a finite amount of space for the bacteria to take up, the goal of gut health is usually to have more of the bacteria that is beneficial to health, and less of the types that aren’t.
The science behind gut health is perhaps the most fast-paced and exciting in the field, so why put a particular focus on the gut with regards to health? We’ve picked out eleven of the best reasons to look out for your gut.
- The gut is responsible for nutrition – Its most well-known role is in absorbing nutrients from the food and supplements that we take in. In turn, these nutrients support all the organs and processes that the body relies on.
- Your gut can influence your immune system... - Over 70% of your immune system is in the gut, so when we take care of the good bacteria, we’re also giving the body’s natural defences a helping hand!
- Even your mood! – If you’ve ever wondered why our emotions are often closely linked to the gut, such as butterflies in the tummy, the answer could lie in the gut-brain axis. Your gut can send signals to the brain and vice versa.
- Supporting the ‘second brain’ – We know that the hormone serotonin, released by the brain, helps to modulate mood, but did you know that your gut can release it too? In fact, the majority of your body’s serotonin originates in the gut! This is partly why the gut is sometimes referred to as ‘the second brain’.
- The gut microbiome could be linked to obesity… - It may seem like a given, but the science connecting the gut microbiome to obesity is a relatively new area of study. Early animal and human studies have shown that the composition of gut microbiota can be connected to an individual’s ability to manage body weight, but the full extent is yet to be uncovered. Looking to discover more about your gut bacteria’s role in weight management? Check out ‘A Flatter, Happier Tum’ by Liz Earle MBE which gives simple, actionable changes to help keep your digestive system in top shape.
- Certain gut bacteria could help soothe the symptoms of some digestive disorders – Studies demonstrate that there is a strong link between some conditions such as IBS and the diversity of bacteria in the gut. While the precise nature of this relationship has yet to be fully understood, studies show that those with some digestive disorders have a different microbial composition than healthy individuals.
- The gut can be simple to support – Because our gut microbiome is modulated by what we put into it, it can be influenced or supported through diet or simple changes to our nutrition. Prebiotics are a great example – they nourish certain types of good bacteria in the gut and encourage them to flourish. Prebiotic fibre can be found naturally occurring in some foods or can be attained through supplements such as Bimuno® when sufficient amounts are not easily achieved through diet alone.
- Your gut microbiome could influence sporting performance – Interestingly, there could be an important link between the diversity of your gut and your body’s ability to perform in sport and athletics. Your gut microbiome can adapt to counter the demands of intensive exercise and has shown the capacity to influence other areas such as respiration and stress response.
- The speed of gut science – When it comes to understanding how the human body works, there’s still much we don’t know. Gut science, however, is one of the fastest-accelerating areas of study. As it becomes clearer that the gut is important to physical and mental health, the health sector is putting a keen focus on the gut and how it works.
- It could be the key to a good night’s sleep – One facet of gut health that is less frequently discussed is that through its interaction with the brain, the gut can help influence our sleep cycles. If you’re left seeking a better night’s sleep, the gut could be a useful area of focus. Click here to find out more!
- The gut can help to keep us travel-ready – As we journey around the globe, be it for business or leisure, our body experiences unfamiliar bacteria which can sometimes cause a problem. Here, diversity has a role to play in limiting the amount of space that harmful bacteria has, which in turn, can reduce the instance and severity of certain travel-related problems like Travelers’ Diarrhoea.
It’s time to start giving your gut the love and attention it deserves! Don’t forget to visit the Bimuno learning resources, which break down the fundamentals of gut health, and how the trillions of microbes in the gut can play a part in physical and mental health. Discover more here.
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