Gut health has had a lot of press recently, and for good reason as it is a crucial area in supporting overall health. To me, ‘gut’ refers to the entire digestive tract from the mouth to the backside…entry to exit! One of the reasons this is so important is that 70% of our immune system can be found here.
The gut is a symbiotic environment, where our own body’s cells are reliant heavily on other organisms, bacteria, to function properly. We have trillions of bacteria in the lower part of our digestive tract, outnumbering human cells and playing very important roles.
These bacteria help to produce essential vitamins, such as vitamin K, and also other compounds such as short chain fatty acids which are an important fuel for both the digestive and immune systems. Gut health is intrinsically linked to our overall health, both directly by creating a barrier to stop unwanted pathogens entering the body, and in more subtle ways by influencing our immune system and central nervous system function. It has even been suggested that our gut health can have an impact on our mental health.
In short, the gut is much more than just a way to expel waste. Supporting its function should be a big priority to keep us healthy, our bodies functioning optimally and to protect against diseases.
Promoting gut health, or a healthy digestive system, is important for a number of different reasons including the efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, the prevention of disease and may even have wider impacts on our health than many of us take for granted.
Supporting a healthy gut environment is actually fairly simple to do. Unfortunately though, many people fall short on this because they do not pay enough attention to the food they eat. The simplest way to ensure good gut health is to eat an adequate amount of fibre. Fibre acts as a fuel source that allows the good bacteria in our stomach to do their job, helping to produce nutrients that are essential to health and preventing disease.
Eating adequate amounts of fibre, over 30g per day, can hugely reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and has been linked to improved weight control and supporting weight loss by adding bulk to the diet with a low calorie cost.
Therefore, food sources like fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds should be consumed regularly. Not only will including these in your diet keep you looking good on the outside, they keep everything on the inside working perfectly too. Health is the foundation of everything I do and by simply making healthier choices you can get fantastic results without having to be on a ‘diet’.
For those who struggle eating enough of these foods it is certainly something to consider changing as it will have both short and long term positive outcomes for your health, mood state and physical appearance.
I am a personal trainer based in Poole, Dorset working with a variety of clients to help improve all aspects of health & fitness.