Say thank you to your gut
It's one of the largest organs in our body, and with good reason. The gut, which runs throughout our body, plays a huge role in our health and wellbeing. Exactly what does it do and how do we look after it?
The gut, our gastrointestinal tract. It begins at the mouth, through the stomach, intestines and down to our colon. We know the main jobs that our gut does; it digests our meals, breaking everything down for energy around the body, and extracts all of the useful nutrients to keep us healthy and ticking over. Then at the end it gets rid of all the bits we don't need as waste. It's a huge job in itself, and requires the gut to be in good health so that the job is done well. When our gut isn't feeling good, we sure do know about it.
Our gut plays a huge role in our overall health and there is so much more going on that the digestion of food. It's connected to physical, mental, and long term health.
The brain gut axis.
Ever heard of it? As more and more research into the gut is being conducted, we are learning about how closely linked your gut and brain are. Bad diet and gut health is now being linked to changes in mood, anxiety and depression. Keep your gut healthy and you can help to improve your mental health.
The gut and long term health.
Studies have shown that good gut health is closely related to a reduced risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. By keeping our gut healthy we can directly improve our health as we age.
The gut and obesity.
Did you know that a healthy gut can help you to lose weight and retain a lower BMI. The foods which feed your gut and keep it healthy will also keep you healthy (unsurprisingly). Research shows that people who had good bacteria in their gut were more likely to be a healthy weight.
Your immune system and the gut.
Over 80% of your immune cells are located in the gut. Keeping your gut in good condition will directly improve your immune responses, helping you to fight off viruses and nasty colds.
How to keep your gut healthy
Your gut houses millions of bacteria, which work hard to assist in all the jobs the gut is doing in your body. Making sure you have the right types of these bacteria, and keeping them happy, is key.
There is no complicated strategy to this, nor is there a magic pill. It's just about eating well, and being consistent.
Most importantly, aim to consume 30g of fibre, daily.
There's a reason it's recccomended every day, you need it! Try and consume 30g every day and you'll start to feel the difference straight away. If your diet is relatively low in fibre to start with, slowly increase your intake until you hit 30g. Here's the foods you can eat to boost your fibre intake:
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
They all contain fibre, and different types of it too. Each type of fibre does something different and looks after a different type of good bacteria. Make sure to eat lots of different fruits and vegetables to cater for all your bacteria.
Get your wholegrains and legumes in.
All plants contain fibre, and these guys have lots of it. Wholegrains such as brown rice, oats, pearl barley and legumes (beans and lentils) are packed with lots of different types of fibre. Keep it varied, and keep eating it.
Don't forget to drink lots of water
This is vital for good gut function and digestion, so aim for around 2L every day.