You might not realise, but your body is home to many trillions of bacteria. They are living, reproducing and interacting with you, 24/7. It's said we have more bacteria in and on the human body than actual human cells! Their involvement in our body systems and health is only just being realised, none more than the gut bacteria; those living in your digestive tract.
The digestive tract starts at your nose and continues to your mouth, oesophagus, stomach, all the way to the exit room (your butt!).
Other than your skin, the digestive tract is the biggest barrier between your insides and the outside world.
That whole area is alive with micro-organisms that are biologically active in ways we know of and ways we are yet to discover. It includes bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microscopic organisms.
A collection of these organisms in one area is a ‘microbiome.’ Your oral microbiome is different to your skin microbiome, different to your gut microbiome and so on.
When people say ‘gut microbiome’ or ‘gut health’ they’re generally talking about the bacteria in your lower bowel (your large intestine).
That’s where we have the most bacteria. It’s also where they do the most work and have the biggest impact on your health.
Science is only just discovering how important the gut microbiome is to overall health but the research is coming thick and fast - especially in the last few years.
We already know gut health influences your immune system, your brain and neurological function, sleep, detoxification and more. The gut bacteria are central to it all.
Its indisputable that gut health influences whole health, the only question is, how much?
We’ve been taught to think of bacteria as ‘bad’ because we associate them with infections, illness and antibiotics. Not all bacteria are bad. At any given time, there is a mixture of beneficial, ‘good’ bacteria’ living in the gut, as well as pathogenic ones – the bad guys.
We want the good bacteria species to dramatically outnumber the bad ones, because when they don’t, all kinds of health issues appear.
When pathogenic ‘bad’ bacteria are in greater numbers and more active in the gut than good bacteria, the imbalance is called ‘dysbiosis.’
Imbalanced gut bacteria, dysbiosis, is often behind the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including:
Stomach bloating and distention
Painful, smelly gas
When scientists have examined the microbiomes of healthy versus sick people, we see dysbiosis present in almost every disease:
Type II Diabetes
Anxiety & Depression
Dysbiosis is also connected with autoimmune conditions.
Needless to say, we want a healthy gut microbiome.
We want to encourage good bacteria to grow and to stop the bad bacteria from getting out of control. There are many factors affecting the type, quality and number of bacteria in your gut.
Food is one of the simplest ways you can improve your gut health.
5 of the worst foods for gut bacterial balance are are:
Processed white sugar – in coffee or tea, soft drinks cakes, pastries, biscuits, dairy chocolate, packaged sauces, tinned foods. Sugar is hiding everywhere!
Processed carbohydrates/wheat – In some of the foods above, plus white bread, white pasta, white flour and foods made from those ingredients.
Red meat, especially grain-fed and processed or cured meats like salami and ham.
Hydrogenated vegetable fats and trans fats – the oils used in packaged foods, pastries and fried foods.
Pathogenic ‘bad’ bacteria gobble this stuff up!
It makes them grow and increase in numbers. As this happens, the good bacteria have less chance of survival. This changes the blend of your gut bacteria, favouring the bad and causing dysbiosis.
Reducing the amount of these foods in your diet goes a long way to improving your gut health. Replacing them with good quality wholefoods is the next step.
Of course, these are just the start, but a great start none-the-less!
My wholefood meal plans are an easy way to drop the 5 worst foods and use whole foods instead because I've planned it all our for you! Give it a go with a 7 Day meal plan.
If you need a bit more support with your gut symptoms, check out my info page on gut health or reach out for a discovery call or consult.