I am sure you have all felt the familiar feelings of butterflies in your tummy, whether it’s the terror before an up-coming exam or the excitement of a second date, or had that “gut” wrenching ache when you receive bad news or followed your “gut” instinct knowing with certainty what direction you need to take for the next chapter in your life.
Have you ever wondered why it is that you experience these deep emotions deep within your gut?
The answer lies in exciting research showing that the brain and the gut are unequivocally connected – infact the gut has been called the second brain. The gut is lined with millions of neurons which allow the gut to communicate with the brain via the Vagal Nerve helping to regulate everything from appetite to immune function to emotional wellbeing.
Wondering how this works? Well this is where the gut microbiome comes in – your gut is home to literally trillions of microbes – most of which are beneficial bacteria called PROBIOTICS. These good bacteria work tirelessly to support nearly every aspect of your health.
The gut microbiome stands as your first line of defence, imagine those armies of good bacteria all armed and ready to fight and slay any bad bacteria that enter our system via the mouth. 80 percent of our immune system resides in the gut, protecting us from disease and illness.
The gut microbiome is also responsible for regulating and producing several mood-enhancing chemicals that help the gut communicate with the brain. Over 90% of your body’s serotonin “the happy hormone”, is produced in the gut influencing your mood, your body’s stress response, sleep regulation, and even your response to pain.
Remarkably the composition of the gut microbiome may even affect your weight status – research has shown that the gut microbiome of an obese individual is markedly different from that of a lean individual.
In essence the health and well-being of your gut microbiome helps to support a positive mood, sharp cognition and a balanced emotional state – all of which contribute to your glorious “gut” instincts!! A trustworthy gut – one whose instincts you can count on to nurture and advise you, needs to be healthy. The gut microbiome needs 85% of its bacteria community to be good bacteria in order to be able to do its job properly, and in this day and age that’s not always an easy balance to maintain. So many things can deplete your populations of probiotics:
How can you nourish your gut bacteria so that they can continue to nourish you?
Eating a diet rich in probiotic foods helps to optimise and support the beneficial bacteria.
Yoghurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Miso, Kombucha and other cultured fermented foods. These foods help to boost the microbiome by increasing the number of bacteria in the gut. The gut is colonised by over 400 different species of bacteria and eating a variety of different cultured foods help to increase and diversify the number of bacterial strains in the gut.
PREBIOTICS AND FIBER
One of the best and easiest ways to increase the health of the gut microbiome is through the ingestion of fibre. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest because we do not have the enzymes to break it down. However, our gut bacteria do have the necessary enzymes and can break down fibre for their own energy and health.
Prebiotics are a specialised plant fibre that beneficially nourished the good bacteria already in the bowel or colon, acting as a fertiliser they help the good bacteria grow, improving the ration of good:bad bacteria. Prebiotics can help increase the absorption of calcium and magnesium, both mineral essential for heathy bones. Foods rich in natural prebiotics are: onions, garlic, legumes, oatmeal, bananas, apples, berries, leeks, leafy greens and whole wheat grains.
Consider combining cultured fermented foods with foods rich in prebiotics for a synergistic effect.
Antibiotics are life-saving and definitely have a time and a place in our health. However, antibiotics can be over prescribed – often for viruses, on which they have no impact anyway! A course of antibiotics will not only kill the bad bacteria causing the infection, but it will also wipe out your good bacteria that are so beneficial to your health. This throws out the delicate balance of the gut microbiome – and it can take months for it to rebound and rebuild.
If you do have to take antibiotics think about replenishing your good gut bacteria with a supplement. Look for a supplement which is refrigerated and contains at least 30 different strains and 50 billion live cultures.
Bone broth has been used and prescribed for centuries in all traditional cultures to help heal you from the inside out. By slowly simmering the bones for long periods, you transfer the nourishing benefits into a digestible liquid which contains gelatin, essential amino acids and minerals elevating it to the list of “superfoods”. By sealing and healing the gut, it creates the perfect environment for the gut microbiome to work, boosting the immune system.
Focusing on maintaining a healthy gut and listening to and trusting your “gut” instincts can help you dial into your innermost thoughts and feelings, so you can live your healthiest days with purpose and joy!!