We listen carefully to our bodies for all kinds of information on what could make us happier, more comfortable, and healthier. 70% of our immune system lives in our gut. Just think about that. Just as sore muscles might trigger the need for more exercise, an upset stomach could be (and often is) an indicator of a bigger issue. It’s time to trust your gut more than avoiding uncomfortable social situations – because eliminating embarrassing gas or other digestive issues is a great way to improve your overall quality of life and happiness. Let’s discuss how the digestive system works and the benefits of maintaining a healthy gut.
How does the digestive system work?
Digestion doesn’t start in your gut, it starts on your plate. When you eat food, it first encounters saliva, moving down your esophagus to your stomach. Once your stomach breaks down the food, it moves to your intestines and then exits your body after all nutrition has been removed. Many organs like the pancreas and gallbladder are involved in breaking down the food you eat and extracting any goodness your body needs – meaning there are many areas where your gut or digestive system can both help, and get off track.
The Gut Microbiome
Gut microbiomes are the genes found in each microbiota, or bacteria, viruses, or other single-celled organisms, found within the digestive system. There are between 10 trillion and 100 trillion microbial cells in each human body, and any imbalance is a huge indicator of overall health. Microbiome influences your body’s nutrition, immunity, behavior, and reaction to disease, making it a vital part of your overall health – even if you thought gas or heartburn was just gas or heartburn. For example, a bit of gas after eating a meal might mean you aren’t absorbing nutrients properly. Without properly functioning microbiomes, there would be no adaptive immunity, as microbiomes identify and remember each disease-causing organism to protect us if we encounter it later.
Signs of an unhealthy gut
Gas, acid reflux, and bloating are far from the only signs of an unhealthy gut. Experiencing things like hiccups, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, pain and cramps, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and bad breath obviously bely some sort of health-disconnect, but there are a few less known signs of poor gut health. Depression and anxiety are caused by poor gut health and consequently can also trigger stomach issues like pain, indigestion, and diarrhea.
Ways to Improve your gut health
Many choose to improve their life and gut health by going on different diets. There are diets to help with everything your gut needs, for example, the Candida diet, which is low in sugar, a great anti-inflammatory for your gut, and great for reducing yeast infections. It’s important to get all the information about your chosen diet before jumping in, gut-first. For example, just because your Candida diet is working well for you, doesn’t mean you aren’t in danger of experiencing Candida die off symptoms including inflamed bowels, liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system. It’s important to temper your efforts at gut health by carefully researching your chosen diet, its benefits and potential pit-falls.
Types of food for gut health
Each food we eat has an effect on our bodies. Did you know healthy foods like apples, cabbage and mushrooms might cause gas? Did you know that chocolate can give you heartburn? There are several different types of food recommended for better gut health – none of which will surprise you. For a more gut-friendly diet, eat more artichokes, green peas, turnips, brussels sprouts, carrots, chia seeds, or fermented veggies. Even kimchi is proven to be gut-friendly, and doctors recommend eating as much as you want! South Koreans are expected to have longer life spans due to their constant intake of kimchi, and thus great gut health! If a certain food is a staple of an entire society, as kimchee is to Korea and miso soup and soya beans are to the Japanese, you can be sure it’s proving to help create a more healthy lifestyle.
Gut health goes well beyond gas and GERD. A healthy digestive system makes for a healthy and well-balanced life, weight, and food intake, all things proven to promote a better quality of life in every area. From weight to serotonin level, gut health affects us all in some of the most unexpected ways, making it vital to your health, to put your trust in your gut!