Improving Gut Health
Gut health may not be the first thing on our minds when we sit down to eat. However, our gut health plays a role in our everyday health. Proper gut health is an essential factor in how we feel every day. Our digestion, absorption, immunity, and mental health are all impacted by our gut health.
When we refer to our gut, we are talking about our stomach and intestines, two major gastrointestinal (GI) organs found in the GI tract. Among its various organs, the GI tract is lined with microbes. These microbes are also known as gut microbiota. The collections of gut microbiota in our GI tract make up our gut microbiome.¹
Our gut microbiota begins developing before we are born. Our microbiome is based on factors including what we eat, where we live, and what we are exposed to. The more diversified our gut microbiome, the more infections our body can fight off.¹
Digestion begins in the mouth with enzymes in our saliva. Food then travels through the esophagus, into the stomach, and then to the intestines. As our food continues through the GI tract, our food is broken down and digestion occurs.¹ Each part of the GI tract plays a special role in the digestion of certain nutrients. When our food reaches our small intestines, the bulk of absorption occurs.¹ Absorption occurs with the help of microbes that live on the lining of the intestines. This gut bacteria facilitates absorption of nutrients into the blood and and allows our food to become fuel for energy and cell repair.¹
Gut health and immunity go hand in hand. A large portion of our immune system is in our GI tract.² Live bacteria in the gut is the main stimulator of immune cells in the body.² This “good” bacteria can help enhance immunity by activating immune mechanisms.² The gut microbiome controls how your immune system works by communicating with immune cells to control the body's response to infection.³
If your gut bacteria is healthy and thriving, your immune system is more likely to function at its highest capacity.
Proper gut health is not only essential for our physical wellbeing, but also our mental health. Our gut microbiome controls the messages that are sent to the brain through the millions of nerves connecting the gut and brain.³ Gut bacteria are responsible for making 90% of our neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates our emotions.⁴ The gut and brain are constantly in communication, so nourishing the gut will promote mental function.
Looking to Improve Your Gut Health?
The key to successful gut health is diversity. Eating a multitude of foods helps your body to be exposed to more bacteria that can help in the fight against disease, and promote longevity. Include both probiotics and prebiotics in your diet. Probiotics are live bacteria found in foods. Probiotics come from fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, and kombucha. Prebiotics are the fuel for our gut microbiota. Prebiotics come from fiber-rich foods. Prioritize fruits and vegetables at every meal to ensure you are getting enough of the incredible prebiotic-rich properties our bodies need to function properly.
Let Nutrition for Longevity take the guesswork out of your gut health by providing the fiber-rich foods your body needs to support a healthy gut through our custom meal plans. N4L custom meal plans have over six servings of fruits and vegetables per day that contain prebiotics to ensure your gut microbiome is fed and able to flourish!
- Your digestive system & how it works. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works#whatis. Updated December 2017. Accessed April 1, 2021.
- Maldonado-Galdeano C, Cazorla SI, Lemme Dumit JM, Vélez E, Perdigón G. Beneficial effects of probiotic consumption on the immune system. Ann Nutr Metab. 2019;74(2):115-124. doi:10.1159/000496426
- Robertson R. Why the gut microbiome is crucial for your health. Healthline website. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health. Published June 27, 2017. Accessed September 30, 2020.
- Wanucha G. The gut microbiome and brain health. The Gut Microbiome and Brain Health - Memory and Brain Wellness Center website. http://depts.washington.edu/mbwc/news/article/the-gut-microbiome-and-brain-health. Published 2018. Accessed September 30, 2020.