Let’s talk about the gut. Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut” nearly 2500 years ago and yet it still rings true today.
The gut is the gateway to both physical and mental wellness. If our gut isn’t healthy, then the rest of us will struggle to be. We’ve spent countless hours, days, and weeks researching this topic and we can tell you: it’s vast and detailed!
Not everything will apply to you throughout this article, but it's chock full of interesting information and tips - if something sparks your interest, feel free to read to your heart’s desire.
But, for now, we’re focusing on the gut’s impact on digestion and the absorption of nutrients which is something that applies to us all...!
Why Gut Health Is So Important
As you know we love to test and get to the heart of the issue. But many of the issues we have or improvements we want to make can be worked out via trial and error and taking note of what agrees with you (or doesn’t!). What works for you won’t necessarily be the same for others. You know your body better than anyone else so trust your, erm...gut.
You know your body better than anyone else so trust your, erm...gut.
What we do know, is that a gut needs to be healthy in order for the following things to happen:
- Break down your food properly
- Absorb the nutrients from your food
- Prevent food sensitivities
- Prevent bloating
- Prevent acid reflux or food repeating on us
- Have regular bowel movements
Poop, Digestion and the Absorption of Nutrients
Thinking about digestion, we can learn a lot about our health from our gut when we focus on what comes out (yes, we do mean your poo!).
Once we've addressed the state of things coming out, we can address potential issues via what goes in.
Our why for delving into gut health will be different for all of us; some of us might want to maintain a healthy gut and wellbeing, whereas others of us might be exploring wider concerns that could be linked to our gut flora, trying to boost our energy naturally or addressing a food sensitivity or nurturing your leaky gut.
The way in which our gut affects digestion and nutrient absorption is closely linked. Did you know that it’s not just the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs that are responsible for digestion? We have (and need) digestive enzymes in our mouth, stomach and small intestine to break down the food we eat and extract the nutrition from that food to keep us healthy and well.
8 Key Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
By now we know gut health is pretty important but what exactly are we looking for (or what we're NOT looking for) when it comes to an unhealthy gut? These are the hallmark signs of gut dysfunction:
- Sugar Cravings
- Indigestion/Acid reflux
- Impaired absorption of some nutrients
- Stomach pain or nausea after eating
The balance of good to bad gut flora and bacteria can be thrown off kilter for a number of reasons, including: our ability to produce these enzymes decreases as we age, or if we’re deficient in Vitamin D or zinc.
This can be addressed by adding some of these five great foods for gut health or taking high quality gut supplements, and adding in good daily sources of zinc and vitamin D. Bitter herbs like dandelion root or milk thistle are also great to include in your diet.
Looking after our microbiome so it can look after you!
The microbiome - the collection of good and bad bacteria in your gut - supports optimal digestion.
A healthy microbiome is very much tipped in favour of the good bacteria. In order to keep those bacteria healthy we need to feed them with a daily diet of probiotics like yogurt, kombucha, legumes, sauerkraut or a high quality probiotic like BePure Two.
In addition to helping us get the most from our diet - a balanced, clean, and healthy gut promotes a strong immune system meaning our bodies can focus on fighting external bugs and aren’t wrapped up in battling internal ones. When we take care of our gut, our gut can start the ever-important job of taking care of us!