Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Why is gut health so important?
Recently, I watched a documentary on a French TV Channel about the importance of our microbiome (for French speaking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QbMoqpbBtE).
Let’s start off by defining what the gut is exactly. What is commonly referred to as the gut is really the Gastrointestinal Tract, and it is an organ that includes both the stomach as well as your intestines.
The GI tract is responsible for taking in food and transporting it from the mouth and into the stomach, digesting it in order to extract and absorb the energy and nutrients found within, and removing the resulting waste from the body.
You can see how that is important for the overall health of your body - you need this energy from food in order to function properly, if at all.
But the reason that gut health has been showing up so much in the media lately, is that there seems to be much, much more to the picture than we could have ever imagined.
Here’s the deal: emerging research is showing that the gut could impact aspects of your health that seem to have nothing at all to do with your digestion, like the function of your immune system, your brain health and heart health, your weight, your mood, your sleep quality, and potentially even more.
It comes down to the fact that your gut contains trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms, called the microbiome, that not only process food but affect everything from your brain to your behaviour.
Everyone has a unique microbiome, however a healthy gut usually has a diverse variety of microorganisms found within it. A gut microbiome lacking in diversity is prone to lower immune function, risk of asthma and allergies, and even some chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Scientists have also found a communication system known as the “gut-brain axis” which literally links the brain and the GI tract. They are still trying to figure out the factors that can affect this communication system, but what they do know is that the gut has a direct impact on your mood, your mental health, your cognition and more.
Your microbiome can be affected by a myriad of factors, obviously from the food you eat, but also your exposure to germs and bacteria, emotional stress, and some medications can all affect the diversity of your microbiome and the health of your gut. When your gut isn’t functioning properly, it isn’t hard to realize it. Generally you’ll experience bloating, gas or diarrhea, stomach pain or even nausea.
Here’s the takeaway: all of this talk about a healthy gut isn’t just a passing trend. There is loads of research, both completed as well as ongoing, that links a healthy gut to more than just your digestive processes.
The GI tract has a huge, vital role within our body and is crucial to the optimal function of our brains, hearts, immune system and more. We’ll be talking all things Healthy Guts here on the blog, so stay tuned for all the info you need to promote the healthiest gut possible.