We all care a lot about our health, especially when we reach our fifties. With the rise of an almost-infinite number of different fitness programs, diet regimens, and services dedicated to providing medical screening tests, it certainly seems like the majority of us are willing to go to some pretty great lengths in order to ensure that we are performing and feeling our best, and are also spared the tragedy of serious illness.
But, until recently, whenever people spoke about effective health practices, the gut was never mentioned – or, at least not in any more than a passing manner.
Today, however, everything has changed. Research conducted in the last few years has increasingly revealed the incredible complexity and power of our guts – and the microbes that inhabit them – in maintaining our health, and keeping us feeling and looking our best.
What’s more, you don’t necessarily need expensive medicines, with risky side-effects, in order to keep your gut in good health. A well-formulated fibre supplement, and a regular dose of probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, can often do the trick.
Here are just a few reasons why good health may depend on your gut.
Because your gut is responsible for a lot of your hormone production
The gut has come to be known, in some circles, as the “second brain” of the body.
On the one hand, this is because the gut contains a large amount of neuronal tissue, as well as huge clusters of nerves. The moniker also applies, though, because the gut is actually responsible for a lot of the body’s hormone production – including the production of neurotransmitters.
In fact, according to Caltech, an estimated 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, and not in the brain.
As you probably know, neurotransmitters such as serotonin, and other hormones and chemicals produced in the gut, play a major role in your sense of well-being, not to mention the extent to which your body functions optimally.
You can imagine, then, that if you aren’t eating well, and if you’re constantly experiencing gastrointestinal distress of one type or another, your body’s production of these essential chemicals is probably not anywhere near ideal.
Because your weight seems to be somehow mysteriously tied to the state of your microbiome
In his book, “The Diet Myth,” the scientist Tim Spector details some of the amazing evidence for the fact that our weight seems to be somehow mysteriously tied to the state of our gut microbiomes – in other words, the type, and number of bacteria that live in our guts.
Among other things, identical twins, who eat the same diets, but who have different gut microbiomes, can have radically different weights, and experience radically different health outcomes when faced by the threat of illness.
In fact, Some people now propose that things going on in the gut may be fundamentally responsible for the current obesity epidemic that is sweeping much of the world today.
It’s not necessarily going to be as straightforward as taking a certain probiotic, and then letting the pounds just drop off of their own accord. But, all the evidence does suggest that, if you struggle with maintaining a healthy weight, improving your gut health is likely to be an essential part of the puzzle to put together.
Because good digestion is essential to extract and assimilate the nutrients from your food
If you experience chronically upset bowels, due to a condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you can be sure that you are not properly digesting the food that you are eating, and also aren’t extracting and assimilating the nutrients found in that food, in the way you should be.
We all know that “healthy eating” is important if we want to experience good health, and look and feel our best. And yet, what’s the point of eating the world’s healthiest diet, if you’re not actually digesting it, and gaining the nutritional benefits that come from it?
Resolving gastrointestinal issues, and improving your gut and bowel health, can help to resolve nutrient deficiencies that you may have been struggling with for a while, without even knowing it.
This, in turn, can help you to overcome chronic health conditions that you’ve been struggling with for a while, and haven’t been able to pin to a precise cause.
Good digestion is a major component of good health, even if you don’t always hear too much about it. So, look into supplements that can help to ease your digestive troubles, perhaps including things like supplemental digestive enzymes, and easily digestible meal plans.
Because your immune function seems to have a lot to do with the microbes in your gut
As briefly mentioned earlier in this article, the state of our gut microbiomes seems to have a major role to play in our overall immune function, and our ability to withstand illness.
In fact, the microbiome plays such an important role, that dramatic microbiome interventions have actually been known to bring people back from the brink of death. These interventions have taken the form of “faecal transplants,” which are exactly what they sound like.
Desperate issues call for desperate solutions.
If you are not knocking on death’s door, however, you might not need to go for a faecal transplant (not the kind of thing that is normally prescribed at your GP’s office) in order to improve your health. Simply eating more fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, blue cheese, and kimchi, and getting plenty of prebiotic fibre in the form of things like inulin, may work wonders in only a short while.
Of course, probiotic supplements can be a good idea as well, and have the benefits of being easy to take with you when travelling, and being easy to quickly down with a sip of water, instead of as part of a meal.
In any case, a lot of us find ourselves regularly falling victim to illnesses of different types, for no good reason. If that sounds like a situation you can relate to, working on improving your gut health may be the solution you are looking for..