Digestion and Gut Health
There has been plenty of research over the last few years to show that our gut health plays a vital role in many chronic ailments today. 70 - 80% of our immune system resides in our gut so it is so important to pay attention to any digestive issues that occur as these can be a sign of many ailments from irritable bowel, leaky gut and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) to other inflammatory conditions in the body (joint pain for example) and other autoimmune conditions.
And it doesn't end there - our gut and our brain are inextricably linked and communicate with each other (gut-brain-axis) with our gut function having a huge effect on our brain health and mental wellbeing - from anxiety and mood disorders to cognitive decline. Our gut microbes produce chemicals that affect how our brains work and also produce a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps control feelings of fear and anxiety. It's no wonder our gut is referred to as our 'second brain'.
The bacteria in our guts (also known as gut microbiome) is needed in order to help fight off infections and keep toxins at bay as well as to enable us to digest our food properly and release nutrients. We also need a variety of gut bacteria to strengthen our immune systems. Too much of certain types of bacteria however can produce inflammatory toxins (Lipopolysaccharides - LPS) which, if leaked into the blood, can cause chronic inflammation in the body leading to other systemic ailments.
One of the many ways to balance gut health is by re-populating the microbiome with probiotics (live bacteria to add to our gut diversity) and prebiotics (food for our gut bacteria).
Looking to our gut and associated symptoms can often be the first stage in managing many chronic on-going ailments.