There has been an explosion of gut research in the last few years that has shed light into the workings of the human body and more specifically the gut.
Gut Health should be our number one priority. It will be your gut that will decide what is going to be good for you or bad for you. Your gut wall is your first line of defence. Because of the size of the membrane, most things that are coming into your body will cross that membrane (it is the same size of a tennis court! ). Your gut wall does a lot more then just digest food! 80% of your immune system is found just behind your gut wall deciding whether these toxins are an allergy, inflammatory response or intolerance, etc.
Your gut is like your second brain. The gut sends signals via a hormone to the brain for appetite control. It also sends signals about survival and if we need to make this a priority. There are cells (entero-endorcrine) in the gut wall that pump out chemicals which help to control an ‘alert’ or ‘relaxed’ response. A study conducted on rats indicated that when the rats guts were sterilised, they were not capable of making enough serotonin (feel good chemical) because they had no bacteria in their gut. Your gut wall takes nutrients directly from food and do this via gut bacteria.The bacteria feed off certain food and maintain the integrity of gut wall. If you have an imbalance of gut bacteria it can affect your serotonin levels which leads to insomnia, anxiety, depression.This just indicates how important your gut microbial are and the physiological effects these have on our body and mind. The microbial composition or activity of the gut can be modified by variety of factors, including internal factors such as hormonal changes, or external factors such as diet, antibiotics, and stress.
ATP Science propose a great analogy:- Think of your gut wall like your grass lawn (good bacteria) full of weeds (overgrowth of bad bacteria).The probiotics are like grass seeds that you are just throwing onto your lawn covered in weeds. This is not killing your weeds, this is just encouraging more grass to grow. You need to ‘kill off’ the weeds (overgrowth of bad bacteria) to take the load off the grass (good bacteria which will reduce an immune or inflammatory reaction). Once you have gotten rid of all the weeds, then continue on with grass seeds and nourish your lawn (probiotics).
An enema can initially reduce some of the bad bacteria significantly. Coffee gets the bile flowing which takes some of the load off the liver. General anti-microbials (such as coconut oils, raspberries, cherries, Vietnamese mint, oregano, thyme, cloves, caraway seeds) slowly chip away at the bad bacteria. Furthermore, loading in a large variety of the good bacteria such as fermented and preserved foods (sauerkraut ,kimchi, yoghurt, Kombucha, vinaigrettes) are great at feeding the good bacteria. Overall, a variety of foods coming in will create a variety of colonies for your good bacteria in your gut. Reduce toxic compounds such as alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and dairy will help restore gut health.
Leaky gut is when the gut membrane is more permeable then it should be. The body doesn’t get a chance to digest foods well enough before they sneak through. This triggers indiscriminate inflammatory reactions around body (causes stress reaction, fluid retention, break down of muscle tissue, reduced sleep, recovery and repair). Stress reactions can switch off ability to heal the gut. Stress triggers blood vessels to become shut off to the gut and directs them to go straight to the brain. This then causes the gut to become more permeable and then can cause us to be predisposed to allergies and intolerances, etc – viscous cycle! Ensure you are eating variety of foods everyday, if you are eating the same thing everyday, you can actually build an intolerance to certain food groups increasing your chance of leaky gut.
The Gut brain connection has been discovered and talked about as a huge topic in health. There are certain compounds in our diet that can go straight to our brain. For example, a common compound is casein (found in protein powder). This is hard to digest (slow realise) so it slips through the leaky gut wall and into your brain which can trigger aggression, irritability, mood changes and poor memory concentration.
So, the take home message is look after your gut because Hippocrates was right when he said the root of disease is in the gut!
1.Tetel MJ1, de Vries GJ2, Melcangi RC3, Panzica G4, O’Mahony SM5. J Neuroendocrinol. 2017 Oct 12. Steroids, Stress, and the Gut Microbiome-Brain Axis.
2. Baker JM1, Al-Nakkash L2, Herbst-Kralovetz MM3. Maturitas. 2017 Sep;103:45-53. Estrogen-gut microbiome axis: Physiological and clinical implications.
3. Zearalenone as an endocrine disruptor in humans. Karolina Kowalska1, Dominika Ewa Habrowska-Górczyn´ ska, Agnieszka Wanda Piastowska-Ciesielska Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology 48 (2016) 141–149