WHY OUR ‘GUT HEALTH’ MATTERS
Bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut, collectively called the “gut microbiome,” carry out important work the body cannot do itself. These microorganisms are believed to play a key role in human health and illness. A healthy gut microbiome produces essential vitamins and hormones supporting the body’s nutritional state and metabolic function. It also communicates closely with the body’s immune and central nervous systems, helps regulate body weight, mental state and sleep patterns, and responds to inflammation and infection.
Whilst some gut bacteria are beneficial, others release toxic substances capable of triggering inflammatory processes in the body. Therefore, the correct balance and diversity of gut microbes is considered important for good health, and may also be important in disease prevention. Thankfully the balance of gut bacteria can be altered through dietary and lifestyle changes.
inflammation and illness
Poor dietary and lifestyles choices contribute to an unhealthy gut ecosystem, resulting in dysbiosis and leakiness in the protective gut lining. Once the gut lining becomes compromised and ‘leaky’, partially digested food molecules are able to enter the bloodstream. The immune system recognises these as foreign molecules and attacks them, triggering an inflammatory response.
Whilst acute inflammation is a normal part of the body’s healing process, it becomes problematic when this inflammation doesn’t turn off. This can result in chronic inflammation capable of damaging the body’s cells and tissues, and potentially causing long-term health consequences.
Chronic gut inflammation is commonly associated with digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, weight gain, sluggishness, brain fog and a general sense of feeling not quite right. And it is now understood that chronic inflammation in the body may be a key driver in the development of many other health conditions including:
· Obesity and metabolic disorders
· Allergies and intolerances
· Autoimmune diseases
· Chronic fatigue syndrome
· Alzheimer’s disease
· Mood disorders
Whilst these conditions appear unrelated to the gut, emerging research indicates they may be caused or made worse by poor gut health and dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is a state of imbalance in bacteria within the gut microbiome.
Thankfully, the body has a remarkable capacity to heal under the right conditions. On this point few would argue with Hippocrates statement that, “natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” To prevent poor health and disease it is important to restore the gut microbiome, reduce inflammation in the body and normalise the immune system