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Gut Health 101

by Nic Florido


Ever had a gut feeling about something?
Gotten butterflies in your stomach? You’re not imagining it, our gut plays a huge roll in our overall health and wellbeing. At Nexba, we talk about gut health A LOT. But if you’re new to the Nexba Fam or just want to brush up on your gut health know-how, you’ve come to the right place. We’re doing a deep dive into our intestines and getting a grip on our gut health.  

 

“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates  

You might think that gut health is just the latest craze for your yoga-obsessed, kale-lovin', celery-juice-drinking mates (you know the ones) and honestly, we don’t blame you. We’re bombarded with updates about what is and isn’t good for our guts and it can get pretty overwhelming. But the connection between the gut and overall health has been studied extensively throughout history, since Hippocrates proclaimed the gut to be the source of all disease more than 2500 years ago.  

 

Fast forward to today and scientists and doctors are well aware of the impact that our gut health has on diseases, our wellbeing and overall health! 

 

So, the gut is all about my stomach?  

Here’s the thing. It’s easy to think that gut health is just stomach stuff, but this isn’t the case. Think back to primary school when you learnt about the digestive system. Food goes in your mouth and travels all the way down through the body until it becomes, well, poop. That whole process is called the gastrointestinal system and it includes the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestines, large intestines and colon. All those parts of the body are considered the gut and they play a critical role in keeping your body healthy. 

 

What the heck is a microbiome? 

Now that you’re convinced that gut health is actually legit, let’s look at what it actually is. The microbiome (also known as your gut flora) refers to the collection of microorganisms that live inside our bodies.  

Your microbiome is developed when you’re just a wee bebe and it can be influenced by your DNA. As you grow, your microbiome is exposed to a bunch of different foods, diets, environmental factors and medicine. This combination results in a healthy, flourishing biome or place you at a greater risk of disease. More on that later! 

It’s strange to think about, but there are about 100 trillion tiny bugs, bacteria and fungi that live inside and along your gastrointestinal system. Having a balanced mix of them helps your body to function properly. Some researchers even consider the microbiome a whole extra organ!  


Why is the
microbiome important? 

Everybody’s microbiome is unique, but its impact on health and disease is the same. Some bacteria fight inflammation (which some scientists believe is the root of all disease), while others encourage it. When the microbiome is balanced, these two keep each other in check. But when that balance is out of whack, the inflammatory bacteria can take over and spread to other parts of the body, causing disease.

And it’s not just inflammation that you should be thinking about. Research has shown that your microbiome affects your overall health and wellbeing, too. Your gut plays a big part in your brain function, digestion, skin, sleep, weight, mental health and immunity (to name a few!). Fun fact: did you know 90% of your serotonin (the happiness hormone) is made in your gut? That means that your happiness literally depends on your microbiome.  

 

What happens when my microbiome is out of balance? 

We’ve been talking a lot about your microbiome being ‘balanced’ and this term is super important when thinking about your gut health. Basically, you’re always going to have some bad bacteria in your gut. There’s no need to stress because it’s totally normal, given you have enough good bacteria in there as well. Ideally, you’ll have a balance of good and bad bacteria in your microbiome, and the good keeps the bad in check.  

a) Dysbiosis

Sometimes the gut microbiome can become imbalanced or disrupted, which can lead to all sorts of problems. This condition is known as Dysbiosisand can be caused by stress, illness, being overweight, overdoing it on antibiotics and a poor diet. Some symptoms of dysbiosis include regular bloating, constipation, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea (eek!) 

b) Leaky gut

We’re sure you already know how important diet is when it comes to keeping yourself feeling and looking your best, but it's also crucial when it comes to your microbiome. Highly processed foods, artificial sweeteners and sugar can weaken the barrier lining in our gut that keeps all those delicate bacteria safe. If our gut barrier lining is compromised, food and bad bacteria can escape into your bloodstream, where it can cause a whole lot of problems. This is known as Leaky Gut’ and it can reap havoc on your immune system, energy, brain function and digestion. 

c ) Inflammation

If bad bacteria leaks through your gut lining and enters your bloodstream, chances are your immune system will go on the attack, resulting in inflammation. This can get serious because many of the world’s illnesses have been linked to chronic inflammation, including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, obesity, heart disease and even cancer.  

 

How do I know if my gut is unhappy?  

To put it simply, when your gut is unhappy, your body struggles to digest food. If you notice any of these symptoms, it might be time to treat your gut a little better! 

  • Food sensitivities or allergies  
  • Recurring digestive problems like gas and bloating  
  • Weight change 
  • Skin issues like eczema and acne  
  • Fatigue  
  • Mood swings  
  • Difficulty concentrating  

Eek, that sounds awful! How can I take care of my gut?  

You’ve come to the right place. It seems super simple because it is: improving your gut health starts with what you eat. Eating a wide variety of fruits, veggies and wholefoods is the easiest way to improve and maintain your gut health (and avoid all those nasty symptoms)!  

Probiotics, Prebiotics, Synbiotics... help! 

Another way to make sure your gut health is happy is to add more prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics into your diet. But don’t stress, this doesn’t mean you need to run to the chemist and buy a bunch of pills and potions! Probiotics contain actual bacteria that you can ingest to add to your microbiome. Prebiotics are the things your bacteria feeds on inside your gut and synbiotics are a supplement you can take that combines the two!

It’s worth noting that not all probiotics are created equal. Some of them can barely make it out of the fridge, let alone safely to your gut! At Nexba, we use a hearty strain of probiotics called Bacillus Coagulans. These little guys are so tough, they don’t even need to be kept chilled. They’re encased in a hard, protein-like shell that acts as an armor for the probiotics to make it to your gut intact - winning! 

 

 

Our key points for a healthy gut

To summarise, taking care of your gut is so important for your overall health and wellbeing. Feeling mehhh? Try eating more fruits, veggies and fermented foods packed with probiotics like kombucha, tepache, switchel of kefir. As Hippocrates might have said if he was around today: "A probiotic a day keeps the doctor away."




Nic Florido
Nic Florido

Author




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