The importance of gut health is not something everyone is talking about. But it should be! Research and studies are linking poor gut health to digestive issues like IBS, skin issues like acne and eczema as well as obesity, hormone imbalance and even autism and cancer. But what does ‘gut health’ really mean? How do we know if our gut is healthy? And why does it matter?
What is the Microbiome?
The gut microbiome refers to the family of microscopic organisms (microbiota) that live in our gut, along with any genetic material they produce. The truth is we are covered in bacteria: in fact we have about 2kg of bacteria in our bodies, which is crazy if you consider how small they are! We have different microbiomes throughout our bodies – on our skin, in our respiratory system, in our reproductive system. They make sure that everything in our system is working properly, they make and balance our hormones, and even control our DNA, with over 99% of our genetic code coming from microbes.
The gut microbiome, however, is especially important. I’m sure you’ve heard of the gut being referred to as the second brain, and this is because an incredibly huge amount of our body’s processes start and depend on the gut. Our ‘gut bugs’ are like the control centre for our bodies. In fact as you’re reading this, your gut is using 500 million nerves, hormones and neurotransmitters to communicate and adjust the function of pretty much all the organs in your body – how insane is that!?
When our gut bugs are happy and thriving, so are we. We feel happy, have more energy and even our immune systems are stronger. Ninety percent of serotonin, our happy hormone, is made in the gut. So a happy gut really does equal a happy you!
As for having a strong immune system (which is crucial especially now), the best thing we can do is support our gut health because a full 70% of our immune system resides in the gut. If our gut is unhealthy it will affect our immune system and actually trick the body into fighting itself.
What Happens when your Gut is out of Whack?
Everything from digestive issues, IBS, SIBO, hormonal imbalances, menopause, PCOS, anxiety, depression, thyroid problems, skin issues, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, autism and cancer, can all have stems in bad gut health. These are illnesses that plague millions of people around the world, with things like diabetes, heart disease and cancer being some of the top killers. But how does this happen? What causes the gut to become weak and unwell and result in these heavy consequences on our overall health? And how can we change that, promote our health and even reverse disease?
It’s All Down to Food and Lifestyle
Food is the number 1 determinant of health and disease, and sadly the average person is eating a diet and living a lifestyle that does the exact opposite of promoting health. The vast majority of our food is contaminated by chemicals from pesticides and fertilisers, crops are grown in depleted soils, animals are pumped with hormones and antibiotics which then get into our systems when we eat them or drink their milk or eat their eggs. GMO crops make up large amounts of the food we eat and on top of all that we live stressful lives, are surrounded by pollution and exposed to even more chemicals through the medicines we take, such as antibiotics which can wipe out the whole microbiome in a single course, and the cleaning and self care products we use.
The food you eat has an immediate effect on your microbiome and determines which bacteria and fungi thrive and multiply. In fact, the food you had at your last meal has probably already changed and impacted your gut biome, which is pretty amazing because that means that you can begin to heal your gut and promote your health right now by choosing food that your gut loves!
Check out our awesome selection of healthy recipes.
But What do your Gut Bugs Like to Eat
The answer is simple and it’s all around us – PLANTS! Our gut loves plants – in fact the more plants you eat the better, and this is something the average human doesn’t even get close to. There are over 250,000 edible plants, but 75% of our food is made up of just 12 of these, with most people not even getting 25 different plants into their diet on a regular basis. No wonder so many of us suffer from illness and disease!
So if you’re wanting to start promoting your gut health and feeding your good gut bugs you need to focus on getting in a diversity of plants.
A GREAT was to have a steady stream of healthy recipes at your fingertips is to download the PLANT-BASED RECIPE COOKBOOK. This includes over 100 mouth-watering recipes for Everyone to Enjoy! The cookbook contains real-food that you can easily find at your local supermarket, including a variety of tofu, tempeh soy products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. So even if you are a meat-eater and want to try a vegan for 30 days, then there are plenty of meat-free recipes that you will love!
If you are Vegan, considering a vegan lifestyle or simply want to include more plant-based recipes in your meal plans, you’ll LOVE VEGAN UNLEASHED. With Vegan Unleashed you will receive 5 ebooks for only $17 – literally hundreds of vegan meals filled with nutritious ingredients!
Extras for Gut Health
Getting in a wide variety of plants is key to a healthy gut, but there are a few things you can focus on and add to your diet for that little bit extra.
Prebiotics: prebiotics feed and nourish the microbes in your gut. This comes mostly in the form of fibre which passes through the system unchanged before reaching the colon where it gets transformed to short-chain-fatty-acids (SCFA). These SCFAs are a byproduct of the fermentation of the prebiotics in the gut. SCFAs are amazing for the gut and body, and promote the growth of healthy bacteria, optimise the immune system, lower cholesterol, promote good bowel regularity, and even help prevent type 2 diabetes and cancer – I mean could it get any better?!
Probiotics: Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kombucha. You can also take a probiotic supplement if you’re needing a bit of a boost, however fermented foods usually contain a higher proportion and wider diversity of probiotic bacteria, along with the added health benefits of the plants used to make the fermentation (e.g cabbage, carrot, ginger, garlic, onion are most commonly used to make sauerkraut and kimchi). Probiotics improve digestion, reduce gas and bloating, protect against bad bacteria, prevent yeast infections in women, unlock nutrients, vitamins and minerals and aid the immune system to work optimally.
Your Next Steps
- Plants, plants and more plants! Like I said, a diversity of plants is key to a healthy gut. The great thing is that it’s really not that hard to start incorporating them into your diet. Add a few handfuls of spinach to a stew; blend them into soups and pasta sauces. If you’ve got picky children, they won’t even notice! Make veggie stir fries, delicious smoothies, salads, veggie burgers, casseroles and bakes . . . honestly the possibilities are endless. Why not try one of our delicious plant based recipes or opt for a box of pre-packed vegetarian meal ingredients with a recipe to be delivered to your home weekly via UCOOK.
- Try to reduce your stress. Now this one is not quite as easy as the first but also plays a major factor in your gut health. Make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, switch your phone/laptop off an hour before bed, and try adding things into your routine that you enjoy and make you feel good – why not fill up a nice hot bath and soak in some Beyond Wellness Stress Relieving Salts?
Staying hydrated is vital to gut health!
- Get that extra boost. If you think you’re needing an extra little boost then you’ll love Elixirmune Gut Guard. And if you’re really getting in the mood why not start making your own fermented sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha? These fermentation kits are perfect to get you started!