Hi Friends! It’s Olivia from ESO Live Well, back with another blog post for you. I am so excited to discuss gut health principles today. Gut health is such an overlooked, yet crucial aspect of the human body’s overall health. The term “gut health” refers to the physical and physiological state of your gastrointestinal tract. So, let’s get into it!
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is important for many reasons. Inside your gastrointestinal tract there are billions of microbes that have many functions, including digestion and absorption of nutrients, fighting infections, and communication to the brain via hormones. The microflora, or healthy bacteria found in your gut, is incredibly important to maintain, which can be done via proper nutrition. This good bacteria functions as an attack system for unwanted particles that enter the digestive tract, and can detect and destroy harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi (how cool!). Additionally, inside your gut lives another nervous system, known as the enteric nervous system. This nervous system is made up of a network of nerves, neurons, and neurotransmitters (the same type that are found in our brain) that line the digestive tract. There is an intimate communication system between the enteric nervous system and the brain, and hormones like serotonin, AKA the happy hormone, are secreted in the gut. Additionally, adrenal responses are sensed in the gut, which triggers “butterflies” in our tummies when we’re nervous or scared, hence the term “gut feeling.”
Now, you may be wondering how nutrition is involved in such a complex system of microbes, bacteria, and hormones. The answer is simple, we must nourish the gut with health-promoting foods that will establish a healthy microflora population. When we have an abundance of healthy foods in our diet, we allow our microbiome to thrive, which subsequently reduces the risk of disease and infection and promotes proper digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food we consume. A number of diseases can be prevented by transitioning to making healthy food choices, including (but not limited to) certain cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and common immune imbalances.
Foods that promote gut health include whole fruits and vegetables, due to their high fiber and phytonutrient content, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fermented foods like kimchi, pickled veggies, and kombucha because of the probiotics they contain. These plant foods that are high in fiber are crucial to proper digestion, because of their ability to slow digestion, which allows time for proper nutrient absorption, and because fiber promotes the development and growth of microflora strains, including bifidobacteria, found in blueberries, apples, almonds and pistachios.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals in America today follow the Western diet, which is one that is heavily focused on animal foods, processed foods, and refined grain and sugar, which do nothing to promote the gut’s microflora. If we focus more on nourishing our bodies with more plant foods and less processed ones, the gut will thrive, thus promoting overall health! If you are unsure of where to start or need any help along the way to a flourishing gut, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Vas or Dr. Kelley to set up a consultation – we want you (and your gut) to be happy and healthy! They both have so much experience, and are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to individualized plans to assist your diet and help you along your health journey. Have a wonderful day Friends, thanks for reading along!