It’s funny how wordplay and accents coupled with a certain nuance can stick with you. I once asked a German how they were, to which he replied in a deep guttural voice “ Alles ist GUT” (All is good)…. how right he was and how that one liner is etched in my memory like a song. Your health, my health and our dog’s health, it’s all about the GUT. It was only when I wrote to him, thanking him for our meeting that I realised GUT is German for GOOD.
If you’re looking to improve YOUR OWN HEALTH in 2022, be more productive or overcome brain fog, be happier with the world or just reduce the burden of stress or depression: one of the key areas to look into alongside diet and lifestyle is GUT HEALTH.
For too long now the vast majority of medical practitioners have looked at body parts in isolation, looked at the symptoms in isolation and avoided getting to the cause of the illness. More than 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. Your Gut bugs are the educators of your immune system. This ecosystem of gut bugs is made (not born) through dietary choices you make each and every day and is influenced by your exposure to the environment. Just as it can be adversely affected from overindulgence, alcohol, poor diet, medication/antibiotics, stress it can be altered to overcome depression, mood disorders, weight control and mental and physical health. Who would have thought neuroscientists in the 21st century would be singing the praises of gut bugs, collectively known as our gut microbiota and linking it to our brain health. Not surprising that without realising it’s origins you’ve heard people talk about a GUT FEELING. 90% of serotonin is made in the gut, the receptors reside there too. The vagus nerve is a physical hard wiring between your gut and your brain, the exact point of connectivity in the brain is the amygdala, an almond-shaped mass of grey matter responsible for processing primal emotions, like: fear, stress and anxiety. Beside the #gutbrainaxis, there are many other connections being researched which may peek your curiosity: Gut-skin connection, Gut-joint connection, Gut-thyroid connection. We are holistic beings after all and we need to treat disease holistically.
I’m not suggesting you run off for a faecal transplant but if you are, I’m told good poo donors are as hard to find as “unicorns”. Researchers in Adelaide are building libraries of the very best that poo has to offer and Biomebank is part of the effort to categorise premium stool strains. A gastroenterologist working for the project confirmed what we all know, that humans historically had a much more diverse microbiota. We lived more closely with other people and animals and we ate more unprocessed food. Diversity it the gut, where diverse microbial species co-exist in harmony is where medical break throughs will transform the way we treat modern day illnesses. Do yourself a favour and ask anyone you know who has ongoing health issues, whether they’ve heard of “leaky gut”? The inflammation brought on by leaky gut is in my view, is the main cause of autoimmune diseases. Your immune system is super intelligent and is continually teaching itself, provided you have not bombarded it with every antibiotic under the sun and lived on medication your whole life. Most people know about pro & pre biotics but take post biotics, this waste or metabolic by-product, like short chain fatty acids influence inflammation in the gut and beyond by binding to immune cells and educating, teaching them to tolerate everything you throw down your throat. This tolerogenic influence helps regulate the immune system.
It does not serve you to exist on cheap supermarket foods if 2022 is going to be about having a healthier life. The diverse species of bugs needed to support good GUT HEALTH need to break down fibre and the more diverse the range of fibre the better. That’s why my goal for 2022 is to double up my fibre intake and expand on the diversity of these fibres. Inulin is a type of fibre found in Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leaks, garlic and bananas which support good gut bacteria and certainly top of my list. Just eating a good mix of fresh produce, vegetables and fruits will take care of your fibre requirements.
A diet rich in polyphenols – those consuming more than 650 milligrams per day also add to the diversity of gut bug food which in turn activate your immune system, promoting good bacteria and limiting harmful bacteria. They help the immune system, keep your blood vessels healthy, promote good circulation, reduce chronic inflammation. Studies show that polyphenols may even block tumor growth and kill active cancer cells.
Polyphenol Rich Foods
Berries (Chokeberries & Elderberries have the highest amount)
Herbs & Spices (Cloves, Peppermint, Star Anise)
Oregano, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme
Vegetables (Artichokes, red onion, spinach)
Coffee & Tea
A Few Tips to Create Balance
Eat to create diversity in the gut, your microbes will thank you for it.
Don’t forget to slow down, appreciate stillness and avoid stress where possible.
You don’t need to have more, do more or be more.
Try having flexibility in your behaviour, adapt better to what life throws at us.
Exercise, keep moving. Whether it’s resistance training or long walks with your dog.
Enjoy playing with your dog or just taking a walk through the woods. Just being amongst the lichen, trees, mosses and spores will expose you through breathing, to airborne microbes.