Gut Health: The Key to Your Health and Wellbeing

Gut Health: The Key to Your Health and Wellbeing

Gut health plays a major role in our health and wellbeing. Not only is it important for digesting foods, but it affects our entire body; impacting on both our physical and mental health.

An unhealthy gut has been linked to a wide range of health conditions—diabetes, hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular health, joint inflammation and even skin-related issues, such as eczema and rosacea.

Research has shown that imbalances in the gut can play a role in mental conditions like autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and depression.[1]

[1] https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/ss/slideshow-how-gut-health-affects-whole-body

Image Source: https://www.drjasonpiken.com/brain-health/

The Gut-Brain Connection

Have you ever had a gut feeling or butterflies in your stomach?

These sensations emanating from your belly suggest that your brain and gut are connected.

What’s more, recent studies show that your brain affects your gut health and your gut may even affect your brain health. The two organs are connected both physically and biochemically in a number of different ways.

Gut-Brain Connection

The Vagus Nerve and the Nervous System

Neurons are cells found in your brain and central nervous system that tell your body how to behave. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in the human brain.

Your gut contains 500 million neurons, which are connected to your brain through nerves in your nervous system. The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain. It sends signals in both directions.  The vagus nerve is important in the gut-brain axis and plays a role in managing stress.

Neurotransmitters

Your gut and brain are also connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters produced in the brain control feelings and emotions.

Many of these neurotransmitters are produced by your gut cells and the trillions of microbes living there. For example:

  • The neurotransmitter serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness and also helps control your body clock.
  • Your gut microbes also produce a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps control feelings of fear and anxiety. Studies have shown that certain probiotics can increase the production of GABA and reduce anxiety and depression-like behaviour.[1]

[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-brain-connection

The Impact of Gut Imbalances on Health

Joint Pain & Autoimmune Diseases

Studies have found links between diet, gut bacteria, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Our gut maintains a solid barrier between our digestive tract and our internal environment. When our gut is inflamed and porous (called leaky gut); bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles start slipping through. These foreign substances then trigger an immune response. Persistent leaky gut ramps up these immune complexes; they circulate around your body and deposit into various tissues and organs including muscles and joints, creating inflammation.[1]

[2] https://www.sanofi.com/en/about-us/our-stories/the-power-behind-the-gut

Impact of Gut Imbalances

Immune Health

Over 70% of our immune system is located in the gut. Our digestive system functions at its optimum when there is a balance of the good and bad gut bacteria living in it. Scientific evidence now shows that the types of food that you eat will directly determine the levels of certain bacteria in your gut, and therefore the diet and food you choose will either support and strengthen your immune system or weaken your defense system.[2]

Bowel Disorders

  • Ulcerative colitis – is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn’s disease

Heart Health & Cholesterol

Some kinds of gut bacteria may be part of the link to heart disease by causing cholesterol to build up in your blood vessels.

Kidney Health

Research believes too much TMAO (caused by eating too much foods like red meat or eggs) might make you more likely to have chronic kidney disease.

Obesity

An unhealthy balance in your gut may cause crossed signals from your brain when it comes to feeling hungry or full, thereby affecting appetite and your body’s mechanism for storing fat.

[1] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-gut-pain-connection-you-should-know-about

[2] https://www.sanofi.com/en/about-us/our-stories/the-power-behind-the-gut

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