What the Gut?!
Updated: Nov 10, 2018
A 3 part series discussing what is gut health, what foods and supplements heal, support and prevent adverse effects of an unbalanced gut, and the benefits of maintaining that balance.
The Gut. People are always talking about their gut; whether its to follow it (see what I did there!), if they have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (bloating, constipation, diarrhea etc), or simply what should they do to keep it from acting up. A balanced gut has been documented to eliminate brain fog, fatigue, joint pains, body aches, depression, anxiety and so on….I mean, I really could go on forever.
In part 1 of a 3 part series of blog posts regarding gut health, I will be discussing what the gut and microbiome are, the science behind the gut, and why it so important to listen and follow your gut.
The Science behind the Gut
What is the Gut? The gut not only includes the stomach but the small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver—-they all work together to support your overall health. Did you know that 80% of your immunity is produced in the gut? That means the gut helps protect you against the flu (which is currently on the rise), strep throat, pneumonia and even just the common cold.
Our gut is also considered our “2nd brain.” It has direct messaging capabilities with the brain (known as the Gut-Brain axis). If the gut is not happy, the brain is not happy…..And when the brain is not happy, the rest of our body is not happy. Clinical evidence has shown that 90% of our serotonin (an important neurotransmitter in our brain that keeps us happy) also is made in our gut (If you want to know more click this link for an amazing article from Caltech). When it is depleted or low we become depressed, anxious, and sad. People usually seek medical treatment for depression in the form of antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft (SSRI group of antidepressants= Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) in hopes of raising this feel-good hormone.
Microbiome vs Microbiota
Now what is the microbiome? Well actually there are two terms you should become familiar with: microbiota and microbiome. Microbiota refers to the trillions (anywhere from 10-100 according to a NIH study defining the microbiome) of microbes living in your gut. The Microbiome refers to the genetic makeup of these microbes, their categories, and the home they live in. However, both terms seem to be used interchangeably in various forms of literature and blog posts.
Starting with the microbiota; this refers to the actual microbes (bacteria and viruses—yes I said viruses. There is such a thing as a good virus!) that live within your gut. They (the microbes) are affected by so many elements including but not limited to your diet, where you live, how much stress you are under, your age, your gender, your activity level, etc. These modifiable and non-modifiable agents all can either hurt or help with repairing and keeping your gut balanced. These microbes are what we tend to deplete and need to repair with probiotics.
The microbiome refers to the environment that these microbes flourish in and their genetic composition. The microbiome affects so many elements including digestion, aging, physical health, mental health, immunity, and more. The microbiome has its first exposure when we are born through our mother’s vaginal passageway (I know getting graphic but its all science!). This is why experts are finding that patients born via C-section tend to have more gut health related issues- their microbiome did not receive this natural exposure as someone who was born vaginally did. Our microbiome is the backbone of our immunity, mood, and digestion, and has so many other responsibilities; which is why balanced gut health is so important!
So, yes people should be talking about their Gut! But how do you heal it, repair it, and keep it balanced? The answer: with food and supplements that you already know about, but probably you don’t know where to start or what exactly is recommended. That’s where we come in!
In the next two blog posts we will be going in depth regarding foods, supplements, and different lifestyle methods that will help repair and balance the microbiome.
Until next time continue to #FollowYourGut