You might already know this, but your gut is pretty cool and amazing.
In fact, many people in the wellness space today believe that health begins in the gut, which is why I’m sharing 5 of my favorite gut health facts that I think you’ll want to know about.
Your digestive system (aka gut) is responsible for digesting the foods you eat, absorbing the nutrients from those foods so that your body can use those nutrients and eliminating the waste from your body after digestion takes place.
Your body uses the nutrients absorbed from the foods you eat to produce energy for all the activities you do, to make hormones, to build cells and to remove wastes from your body, among other things.
So not only must there be nutrition in the foods you’re eating to keep your body healthy and energized, but your digestive system must be healthy enough to digest those foods completely and assimilate the nutrients that are in the foods.
You know that saying that “you are what you eat”? Really it should be you are what you digest.
5 GUT HEALTH FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
1 | There is 3-5 lbs of Bacteria in your Gut, and it’s known as your Gut Microbiome.
There are over 100 trillion microbial cells that make up the bacteria found in your digestive system. These microbiota can be affected by the genetics and health of your parents, whether you were delivered vaginally or by caesarean and if you were breast or bottle fed.
As you grow older, your gut microbiota can be affected by lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, illness, medications and more.
Your gut microbiome helps with many jobs within your body. It supports a healthy metabolism, it helps to control inflammation, it helps to digest food and assimilate the nutrients, it produces important vitamins that your body needs and it supports your immune system by helping to fight viruses, bacteria and infections. In fact, 70-75% of your immune system is located in the mucosal lining of your gut!
2 | Your Gut Really Is Your Second Brain
Your digestive system houses your enteric nervous system (ENS), which is made up of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your GI tract and has been called the second brain.
The main role of your ENS is to control digestion, including swallowing, releasing the enzymes that help break down the foods you eat and controlling the blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption and elimination. It also communicates back and forth with your primary brain.
Serotonin, which is one of your primary brain’s main “feel good” neurotransmitters, is produced in your gut. Some new research shows that when a person suffers from constipation or other dysregulations in the gut, it also affects neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin. So the key to happiness may indeed be healthy digestion and regular, complete elimination.
3 | Lack Of Sleep And Too Much Stress Can Affect Your Gut
When you get the right amount of sleep at night, your stress hormone cortisol lowers, and the gut is also able to repair itself during sleep. We also know that stress can change the composition of your gut bacteria and worsen gut disorders. To ease symptoms of gut disorders, try some deep breathing or a few minutes of meditation.
In addition, stress negatively impacts sleep. So it’s safe to say that managing stress, getting good sleep and the health of your gut are all related. Understanding that connection is crucial to your health.
4 | Your Gut Needs The “Right Foods” To Feed On
I go into this more in my free ebook, 20 Foods That Are Good For Gut Health, but when it comes to maintaining a healthy microbiome, nothing is more important than what you eat and drink. And no matter how you choose to eat and whether or not you choose to eat meat, everyone’s gut benefits from eating a heavily plant based diet which is where we get fiber from. A diet high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble) has been shown to greatly contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. A 2017 study published in Cell Host & Microbe found that a diet with proper amounts of fiber literally feeds and makes the good gut bacteria thrive, and, in turn, helps them to multiply in number.
Inulin is a soluble fiber that’s found in many plant foods and getting more of it in my diet has helped my gut health so much. To learn more about 20 of my favorite foods for gut health and how to get more inulin in your diet, be sure to download my free guide.
5 | Your Gut Will Let You Know When Something’s Off
If you’re eliminating regularly and haven’t noticed any digestive symptoms like gas or bloating, then your gut is likely working well. But digestive disturbances like constipation, gas, bloating and diarrhea can be signs that your gut health needs attention. A healthy, balanced gut will be able to process the foods you eat and eliminate waste.
Love these gut health facts? Then you’re going to love my FREE guide, 20 Foods That Are Good For Gut Health. Click here to download it!