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The Relationship Between Gut Health and Overall Wellbeing

by Sandra RayfordMay 4, 2021,
The Relationship Between Gut Health and Overall Wellbeing

“We are what we eat - that's something we hear often, and it holds much truth. The thing is, what we eat contributes to the amount of nutrients our bodies get, protein content, fats, and more. Now, when it comes to the gut specifically, studies have found that there are several connections to other parts of the body. The gut-brain axis is a good example. It is believed that problems with the gut could interact with the brain in this case. An unhealthy gut could also lead to complications. For example, inflammatory conditions can block the absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. This, in turn, could result in nutritional deficiencies. This weakens the immune system, reduces bone health, causes fatigue, and leads to disease.”

Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD and Editor for Calisthenics Gear.

Understanding our Gut Microbiome

“Our bodies are more bacteria than human. We have a whole community of microbes living inside our gut. We call this our “gut microbiome” and science has shown that it influences everything from our mood and body weight, to our brain. Research has demonstrated how this community of microbes will defer between someone that is healthy or has diabetes, cancer or heart disease. When our gut isn’t in good condition, neither is the rest of our body. Our gut is the core of our wellbeing. Instead of counting calories, grams of protein or fat, we should focus on eating gut-friendly foods. We can only be as healthy as our gut microbes are!”

Sofia Popov, Microbiome Scientist & Founder and CEO, GUTXY

The Brain-Gut Connection

“Stomach distress can be the intricately linked to the state of our overall well-being. Our brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to our emotions which play a significant role in our overall well-being. Approximately 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the gut by mucosal enterochromaffin cells and enteric nervous system neurons. Serotonin is linked to mood regulation and overall well-being. Stress (or other psychological factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract, worsen inflammation and make you more susceptible to infection; which can impair overall well-being.”

Holistic mental health practitioner Natalie Hardie, founder and director of NH Neuro Training.

“Gut and mind are more connected than we might think. The gut has the largest area of nerves besides the brain and brain and the gut share many nerve connections. We can call our gut our second brain. Now we know that “feeling butterflies” in a stomach when we’re in love or hitting the toilet too many times before the exam is not a coincidence. That’s why taking care of our mental health has to start with proper nutrition. Some nutrients known to help us in dealing with mental health problems are: Complex carbs such as wild rice, beans, soy, oats and bulgur are. Glucose coming from carbs is the main source of energy for the brain. However, we should avoid eating simple carbs because they are known to create spikes in blood sugar and have a similar effect on the brain as drugs have.

Complex carbs are a great option for maintaining a healthy mind because they release glucose slowly enabling us to feel fuller and sharper for longer. Yogurt and fermented food contain probiotics which can help in reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress and they have an impact on the neurotransmitter GABA. However, we should be careful about how much processed food we eat to avoid compromising the delicate balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut. Sweet potatoes, quinoa, and eggs are foods rich in serotonin which can help us improve our mood, sleep and decrease our food cravings.”

Kristina Hendija, MD, medical advisor for Beardoholic

Gut and Energy Levels

“A YorkTest study has recently highlighted how fatigue may actually be a sign of a food sensitivity that many may not be aware of. In fact, over 46% of the YorkTest customer base have experienced symptoms of fatigue prior to taking a test. Low energy levels and fatigue are common symptoms of food sensitivity, and people don't always link the two together. As the body tries to cope with food sensitivities, this can drain away at energy levels. In addition, the effects of living with other typical symptoms, such as IBS and migraines, can be exhausting and also triggered by certain foods. In other words, the fatigue you may be feeling can be attributed to your gut not processing certain foods well due to an underlying sensitivity, thus affecting productivity and overall wellbeing.”

Dr. Gill Hart, Scientific Director at YorkTest

Microbial Diversity and our Overall Health

“Our gut microbiome is continuously evolving since birth. It helps in absorbing the nutrition from our food. They break the complex food molecules and help in the fermentation of indigestible fibers. Getting exposed to various environments result in the diversity of our gut microbiome. Lower diversity leads to dysbiosis or microbial imbalance in the gut. This irregularity in the microbiota can be due to exposure to various environmental factors, including diet, drugs, toxins, and pathogens.

The gut microbiome plays a role in the development of diabetes and obesity. This may result in autoimmune diseases, obesity, and cardiac disorders in young and older adults. Some scientific studies of overweight and obese people have shown dysbiosis, characterized by a lower microbial diversity. Also, long-term weight gain in humans is associated with lower microbiota. Dysbiosis can result in diet-induced obesity and metabolic complications. Recent studies reveal that the gut microbiome builds from infancy and plays a major role in subsequent health and disease.”

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, health and wellness writer and editor of Best for Nutrition.

Gut Health and Skin Health

“Digestive issues and poor gut health can affect general well-being, as poor digestion, can result in bloating, constipation, indigestion and unhealthy skin, all of which can lead us to feel tired and sluggish, with a low mood and possibly poor self-esteem, especially if our skin is affected, which it may well be.  Poor gut health can really show up in our skin, resulting in cellulite and puffiness on the body and dull skin with breakouts on the face. If we feel good about the way we look, we generally feel better overall, and this can be achieved if our gut health is good and our digestive system is working to its optimum level.”

Alison Angold, beauty and massage therapist and aromatherapist, Beauty Taming the Beast

What you can do to Improve your Gut Health and Hence your Overall Wellbeing

“Gut dysbiosis, poor gut health, has more negative health consequences than we often realize. From chronic fatigue to chronic disease an unhealthy gut can make one's quality of life substantially lower. A major cause of this issue is fungal overgrowth due to a diet full of processed, sugar-laden, junk food. Promote good gut health by eliminating sugar that feeds bad bacteria in the gut and integrating a probiotic into your daily regimen. Probiotics are supplements containing beneficial bacteria that naturally occur, live, and even thrive in the body of healthy individuals. There is a myriad of products available containing a wide range of different bacterial strains. It is ideal to select a probiotic with a variety of strains and at least 10 billion CFUs.

Probiotic, fermented, foods can help to repopulate the good bacteria in your intestines. These can be taken at the same time as probiotic supplements and are a great addition to any diet. Consuming fermented foods is one of the easiest ways to boost your immune system, improve your digestion, and fight off digestive infections. Some excellent sources of fermented foods to help with gut health include kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, kombucha, and kimchi to name a few. Your gut health is vital to your overall health. By improving the health of your gut you are bringing balance back to your life and preventing/reducing bloat, indigestion, fatigue, nausea, gas, diarrhea, yeast infections, and general unwellness.”

Lisa Richards, Nutritionist, The Candida Diet

“You have a unique ecosystem living in your gut, housing nearly 100 trillion good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria, which you can get through taking probiotic capsules or eating yogurt, has been linked to improved mood and lower anxiety (Wallace & Milev, 2017). In one study, taking a daily probiotic capsule for two months lowered depression (Akkasheh et al., 2016); in another, six months of use decreased stress by 40% and gastrointestinal discomfort (a source of stress) by 91% (Gruenwald, Graubaum, & Harde, 2002).”

Jasmine Chen, Founder & CEO of wellness education app LIFE Intelligence

Now that you know the importance of a healthy gut and how to achieve that, your ideal overall physical and mental fitness would seem much more achievable.

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