What is gut health?
The gut microbiome has been gaining attention in both the medical and food industries over the past fifteen years. Due to this increased awareness around the importance of gut health, you may indeed already have an idea of which foods are settling your tummy. And that’s great. But what really is gut health and why is it so important?
So, what is gut microbiome?
Ruairi Robertson from Healthline can explain it better than I ever could. ‘Bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic living things are referred to as microorganisms, or microbes, for short. Trillions of these microbes exist mainly inside your intestines and on your skin. Most of the microbes in your intestines are found in a “pocket” of your large intestine called the cecum, and they are referred to as the gut microbiome’.
There are even more bacterial cells in your body than human cells. Roughly 40 trillion bacterial and 30 trillion human. That means you are more bacteria than human. With over 1000 species of bacteria in the gut microbiome, all of them playing a different role in your body, you can begin to see the importance they bare on your health. Most of them are there to benefit your health but Mr Roberton says ‘others may cause disease’. This is why we must take such good care of them as ‘they function as an extra organ in your body and play a huge role in our health’.
Gut health for the individual
Everyone’s gut microbiome is unique and although gut health benefits everyone at the macro level, finding out what works for you on the micro, could change everything. I asked Gut Specialist, Herbalist & GAPS Practitioner, Belle McPhee, why she thinks gut health has become so popular in recent years.
‘Gut health is all the rage – get it right and all your health concerns fade away, your energy increases, your mental clarity and general ability to cope with life in our hectic busy world improves out of sight’. 90% of all our cells and all our genetic material is gut flora, emphasising that ‘the strength, diversity and robustness of our bacterial colony, whose headquarters are in the gut, is imperative to our overall health’.
Also highlighting that gut health has become such a prominent area of health and food due to the rapid decline in it on a global scale. She says ’Our recent history of antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs – prescribed and also present in our food and water supply, has caused a massive decline in the diversity of our bacterial colonies’. This is then exacerbated by our hectic modern lives, bad eating habits and regular alcohol consumption. Explain that this ultimately leads to ‘an increase in digestive disorders and many and varied chronic diseases of inflammation. People are feeling tired, foggy-headed, achey and nutritionally deprived. You can download her free eBook here.
Some scientists believe it is still extremely unclear exactly what gut health is, how it can be defined and how it can be measured. This is due to it lacking clear definition in scientific literature, the Western world still holds some sort of taboo around gut health. Whereas in Eastern medicine, gut health is the key to the whole body and recognises the abdomen as the location of the soul. Patrice Cani from BMJ Journals explains why it is hard to measure and define gut health. ‘The gut barrier is controlled by fine-tuned communications occurring between gut microbes and the host immune system, Additionally, the complexity of those interactions raise the question about the level of our current understanding. And eventually, contribute to explain why it is relatively difficult to develop specific therapeutic targets’.
Some foods to restore your gut to full health
Kick that queasy, sunken, heavy feeling out of your gut with these gut-friendly foods.
Happy Belly Probiotics make their own kombucha batch brewed in Billinudgel. They also provide kombucha SCOBY brew kits so you can make your own high-quality kombucha at home!