Your gut is considered your second brain because it contains its own nervous system, the enteric nervous system, which has a direct influence on your mood, inflammation and immune system. Research surrounding the complexities of the gut and the enteric nervous system are still in their infancy but some of the research emerging in the last decade show that the health of your gut or lack there-of may influence:
IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis
Irregular menstrual cycle
Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Food Intolerances
How we perceive pain
Gut – Brain Axis
The brain and gut communicate with one another and changes to the microbiome as a result of different stressors are associated with changes to immune system and gut movement. Likewise changes in the gut alter the stress-response and behaviour which may be involved in diseases such as anxiety, depression, autism, parkinsons, alzeihmers and stroke. Your gut produces around 80% of your happy hormone serotonin and exposure to early life stress can increase the risk of gastrointestinal disorders later in life – the research is still growing in how this occurs so taking care of your mental health, diet and movement are all important in supporting a happy healthy gut.
Several studies have shown a relationship between microbiome composition and cardiovascular exercise and found that with no change in diet people’s microbiome diversity changed after 6 weeks of exercise, in particular there was an increase in certain microbes which help to produce fatty acids believed to reduce inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body! After returning to a sedentary state the changes in microbiome reverted to what they were in the start – So up your cardio in the form of walking, running, dancing, cycling, rowing, skipping – have fun with it! Pick an exercise buddy today and love that gut.
Another aspect of caring for your gut health is looking after your microbiome or all of the wonderful bacteria that live on the inside and the outside your body, for the purpose of gut health lets look at what bugs live in the gut.
You are more bacteria than human! For every 1 cell in your body you have around 10 microbes. These microbes are bacteria that make up your microbiome and like a fingerprint your microbiome is specific to you. Even identical twins who contain 99% of the same DNA share only about 20% of their microbiome. Your microbiome is highly dependant on your environment and lifestyle choices including:
- Where you live
- What you eat
- Medication you take
- How you were born
Did you know?
Antibacterials and Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria and in doing so can adversely affect the diversity of micro bacteria in your gut. So put down the antibacterial soap and have a conversation with your health care practitioner about whether antibiotics are necessary.
We are still learning about the complexities of the gut and the gut brain connection but here are some of the ways that you can start to love your gut.
Love your gut!
Feed your gut. Gut loving foods contain pre and probiotics. Prebiotics feed the bacteria in your gut and probiotics add new bacteria to the gut. Remember that DIVERSITY IS KEY! There are no good or bad bacteria there is only a balanced microbiome and an unbalanced one – an unbalanced microbiome is when we start to run into trouble.
- Vegetables – chicory, jerusalem artichokes. Garlic, onions, leeks, savoy cabbage, legumes, beans
- Fruits – bananas, custard apples, watermelon, grapefruit
- Cereal – Bran, Barley and Oats – If sensitive to gluten it may be best to get fibre from vegetables and fruits as inflammation of the gut may be counterproductive to your gut health.
- Nuts and Seeds – almonds, pistachio, flaxseeds
- Live cultured yogurts – Dairy or non dairy alternatives. Just make sure to check the label as sugars and artificial sweeteners disrupt the microbiome.
- Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles.
If you aren’t into eating foods rich in pre or probiotics or have an infant not yet on solids then a good quality probiotic may be warranted. Each probiotic strain has different properties here is a list of just a few and their benefits:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS®-1
Supports digestive and immune health, is acid- and bile-resistant and provides long lasting colonization.
- Lactobacillus casei
Supports a healthy immune response as well as aids in stress management by promoting healthy serotonin levels.
- Lactobacillus plantarum
Helps ease digestive distress and supports a healthy inflammatory response. Also shown to reduce the negative effects of mycotoxin exposure.
- Lactobacillus salivarius
Supports an already healthy inflammatory response in your gut and your immune health. Supports healthy cholesterol levels already in the normal range.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Can reduce symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, as well as support your healthy weight management and cholesterol levels already in the normal range. Also helps reduce pesticide toxicity.
- Lactobacillus brevis
Supports already healthy inflammatory and immune responses.
- Bifidobacterium lactis
Promotes an already healthy inflammatory response including allergy response and supports the growth of other beneficial bacteria.
- Bifidobacterium longum
Promotes a healthy stress response and may reduce gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
Supports healthy blood sugar levels already in the normal range and may help ease gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Streptococcus thermophilus
Promotes healthy, hydrated skin, supports immune health and Also stimulates the growth of other probiotic strains. (1)
We stock a number of probiotics in the practice which contain a combination of the above strains of probiotics.
- Biogaia – suitable from birth
- Biocare – mindlinx children’s probiotics, baby infantis powder
- Lamberts Acidophilus
Gut health, the microbiome and the gut-brain axis is a fascinating topic that is constantly changing and evolving. If you would like to find out more about gut health and the appropriate probiotic for you or your family speak to your healthcare practitioner.
*The advice given above is for informational purposes only. Any change to current health regime should be discussed with your healthcare practitioner (Chiropractor, Naturopath, GP, Osteopath etc)
Want to learn more?
Books that we’ve been reading
Brain Maker by David Perlmutter
The Art of Probiotic Nutrition by Kale Brock
The Gut Healing Protocol by Kale Brock
The Clever Guts Diet by Michael Moseley
1. Conlon MA, Bird AR, The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health, Nutrients. 2015 Jan; 7(1):17-44. Published online 2014 Dec 24
2. Allen JM, Mailing LJ et al. Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2018 April: 50(4):747-757
3. Dr Joseph Mercola, Probiotics, [online]. 21/01/2020. Probiotics | Complete Probiotic Supplements