Your Chatty Gut
Have you ever had a gut feeling or heard the term ‘Gut Brain’?
This is because there is a highway of information called the brain-gut axis which creates lines of communication between our head brain and our gut brain.
This highway is an extensive network of neurons and chemical messengers. These provide constant feedback about how hungry we are, whether or not we’re experiencing stress, or if we’ve ingested a disease-causing microbe.
You might be surprised to know that only 10% of the messages are sent to the gut, for example the brain might tell our gut to slow down and conserve energy during times of stress.
Therefore, a whopping 90% of communication is going from the gut to the brain. Our gut tells our brain “how we are doing”. It is our microbiome that is doing this talking.
Our microbiome is the ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, yeasts and fungi that live in and on our bodies. We have around 100 trillion bacteria in our gut. Whilst this may sound horrendous to some, only 5% of all bacteria are harmful. The other 95% do very important jobs, which makes it vital that we get the right balance of more good and less bad bacteria.
Current research suggests that these bacteria help the gut perform some very important functions.
- Improve our immunity by creating a hostile environment to any harmful bacteria we swallow.
- Prevents our gut from becoming leaky, a leaky gut creates a continuous state of low grade systemic inflammation. This type of inflammation is implicated in conditions including Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s and Type 2 Diabetes.
- Produce chemicals that regulate our mood. Serotonin is our “happy hormone” which helps us sleep and relax and Dopamine which helps with our motivation.
- Improve our brain function. Bacteria produce Glutamate which is involved in learning & memory.
- The diversity of our microbiome and population numbers appear to influence our ability to gain weight. It is thought that different bacteria process food differently, some are very efficient at extracting calories from food, whereas others specialize in breaking down plant fibres.
- Synthesize vitamins: some of the B vitamins and Vitamin-K.
We hope that’s not too much science. We wanted to share with you why we believe that having a healthy gut is one of the most important things we can do to get and stay healthy.
The good news is that your microbiome can change depending on the food that you eat. You are in control of positively altering your gut health at your next meal.
- Remove bad bacteria by limiting sugar and processed foods.
- Re-introduce good bacteria with probiotics e.g. kefir, sauerkraut.
- Feed the good bacteria with prebiotics, these are food that contain soluble fibre e.g. nuts, seeds, legumes, oats, barley and a variety of fruits & vegetables.
Remember, if your bacteria are unhappy, so are you!
Hayley West - Chef & Nutritionist at Body & Mind Reboot & Owner at Halo Nutrition