Why is your gut health so important? Your gut is what separates the outside world from the rest of your body, so it needs to be working properly. The gut houses over a 100 trillion beneficial bacteria.
These bacteria outnumber our human cells ten to one, they, therefore, have a major impact on our health and are responsible for the following functions;
- They protect us from harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. They also form the first line of defense in the gut lining.
- They absorb nutrients from the food we eat and they synthesize glucose and fatty acids.
- They help produce vitamin K2, vitamin B’s, and enzymes.
- They modulate the immune systems and our inflammatory responses.
- They support healthy bowel movements, bile creation, and gastric secretion.
- They act as the gatekeepers of what’s allowed in the bloodstream.
Over the past ten years research has shown that these beneficial bacteria are not only linked to genetic expressions but they also support immune, brain, heart, and vaginal health.
The ‘gut-brain axis’ is of particular interest to me with regard to children who struggle with behaviour or concentration issues.
Antibiotics, certain medications, artificial colouring and flavourings, and stress all destroy these beneficial bacteria so we need to pay attention to how to restore and maintain them.
So how do we look after the bacteria that keep us healthy?
- Well, firstly they need a healthy gut lining to live in. Butyric acid and L-Glutamine support the villi or ‘carpet-like’ gut lining that bacteria live in. A good source of butyric acid is beetroot and cabbage.
- Secondly, they use plant fibers for food. Fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber, specifically, garlic, leeks, and onions.
- We also need to continually replace these beneficial bacteria as they die off.
Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso are full of these beneficial bacteria and we need to have them on a regular basis.
A stool test analysis is one of the most commonly performed tests in functional medicine.
This test can provide a tremendous amount of useful information including measures of digestive adequacy, excess fermentation, intestinal flora, butyrate, sIgA (first line of immune defense), and parasites.
When the test results indicate a gut aliment this four-step process can be used to help restore the gut.
- Remove any pathogens, toxins, food intolerances, unbalanced E-coli, or candida.
- Replace digestive enzymes and digestive factors.
- Re-introduce desirable bacteria (probiotics).
- Repair the gut lining with butyric acid, L-Glutamine, and essential fatty acids (Omega3).