A Brief Introduction to the Inner Workings of the Gut
“Got guts,” “gut feeling,” “gut instinct,” terms we’ve grown up hearing and have probably used ourselves a hundred times ...right? Here’s the funny thing, most of us don’t even know what the ‘gut’ is or what its function is, let alone why we refer to it as a source of intuition or bravery!This article aims to demystify the ‘Gut’ and attempts to describe just why a healthy gut is so important to our general wellbeing.
What is the Gut Exactly?
The gut or (gastrointestinal tract) is an essential part of our digestive system. It is a long tube that runs the length of the upper body and includes the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, and intestines. It begins at the mouth where food first enters and the digestive process is triggered and ends at the rear (anus) where undigested food is expelled.
The gut or “food train” processes the foods we intake and transports it to the stomach where digestion is performed. The gastrointestinal tract releases hormones and enzymes to regulate the digestive process. The food is further broken down by chemicals produced by cells in the stomach so that it can be easily absorbed through the wall of the gut into the bloodstream and transported around the body.
How Important is the Gut?
Hippocrates — the ancient Greek father of medicine — is known for saying “all diseases begin in the gut.”
Some would argue that in the grand scheme of things the gut is a crucial component to our overall well being. We now understand that the gut is where many health problems begin and more importantly, where they can be prevented. The gut is responsible for a lot more than just digesting food. Think of it as an incredibly complex subsystem of microorganisms that are in charge of absorbing nutrients and discarding toxins. The gut is the “nerve centre” of the digestive system and is loaded with neurons that release the same neurotransmitters found in the brain.
“According to Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, the gastrointestinal system is more than the body’s primary site of taking in and absorbing nutrients. This system of critical digestive organs also acts as a type of switchboard or communication center to and from the brain, and functions as one of the body’s frontlines in the fight against disease. “Our gut plays a major role, not only in our gastrointestinal health, but in the health and well-being of the entire body,” Dr. Ganjhu said.” NYU Langone Medical Center.
Poor gut health brings with it a host of problems that adversely affects our body and mood. A healthy digestive system equals a strong natural immunity to diseases. An unhealthy diet/lifestyle can throw out the balance of microorganisms (microbiome) in your gut causing “bad bacteria” to proliferate. Toxins produced by these bad bacteria can wreak havoc on your immune response and interfere with the proper absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream. Scientists have now linked metabolism and maintaining a healthy weight, skin conditions, autoimmune issues, and mental health disorders like anxiety and depression to an unhealthy gut!
Symptoms of an Unhealthy Gut About
80% of the body’s immune system is formed in the gut. So you can imagine what a threat a weak gut can pose to the body’s defense system and overall health. Here are a few common symptoms that may indicate your gut is need of a little Tender Loving Care:
1. Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea
2. Food allergies or sensitivities
5. Mood swings, irritability
6. Skin problems like eczema, rosacea
Good Gut Care is Essential
It is estimated that we have 100 TRILLION bacteria living inside our bodies and with some 300 to 1,000 different species of bacteria that live inside of our gut. We are definitely what we eat! Our microbiome is completely influenced by what we inject into our bodies; so the more toxins and processed junk we introduce into our system, the lower our bacterial diversity becomes. A less diverse microbiome can cause a myriad of health issues like diabetes, fatigue, obesity, and arthritis to name a few.
The good news is there are ways to boost the right kind of bacterial microflora in your digestive tract and get your gut back on track. Here we highlight a few natural ways to help you grow and maintain healthy digestive flora.
Remove toxins from the body. Caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, bad fats, sugar and starches irritate the gut. Substitute instead with citrus fruit, fibre-rich foods, leafy greens and yellow vegetables.
Stop negative lifestyle habits that damage gut bacteria. If possible avoid: Chlorinated water, household detergents, pesticides and herbicides.
Take Omega-3 fish oil supplements or eat foods naturally rich in Omega-3 fats like wild caught fish.
Top up on probiotics (good bacteria) through fermented foods. The best way to restore beneficial bacteria in the gut is to create acidity, which promotes the growth of various Lactobacillus bacteria. Sauerkraut, pickles, and fermented dairy products like buttermilk, kefir, sour cream, & yogurt (all made via natural fermentation with good bacteria) help repopulate the gut with good bacteria.
Start exercising. Regular exercise can do wonders for your digestive tract. Studies have shown that the microbial community in our intestines are positively impacted by our level of exercise. Remember to stay hydrated. Water will help to flush out harmful toxins from the body.
Interested in Fermenting Your Own Probiotic Food?
Preparing fermented vegetables/foods is painless. It also happens to be a pretty inexpensive way to get your gastrointestinal tract to work at its optimum best.
Having the right tools of course will make your job that much easier and more enjoyable. Tools like good strong mason glass jars and the Easy Fermenter kit.
The Easy Fermenter is your one-stop-shop to perfect ferments. It is basically an innovative single piece lid that pops over a mason jar to keep your ferments air-locked, guaranteeing beautiful probiotic results every time. The best part, the Easy Fermenter was designed to work on all kinds of preserves from pickles to jams and chutneys.
Benefits of the Easy Fermenter
Super easy to use. Comes as a single component that screws on.
Helps you keep track of your ferments progress with an inbuilt date tracker.
Comes with an ingenious tab handle to make opening your jars a breeze.
Includes an oxygen extraction pump to create an oxygen free environment to protect food from rotting. During the fermentation process, carbon dioxide produced rises up through the vegetables and pushes out any oxygen that remains to the top of the jar. The Easy Fermenter pump removes excess oxygen before it can become contaminated from bacteria to form, kahm yeast, a frothy layer that develops on the surface, or mold.
Fermentation is easy and fun. Being well equipped with tools like the Easy Fermenter can prevent unnecessary disasters and provide you with delicious probiotic, nutrient rich foods.
Enriching your diet with fermented foods is a highly effective, easy and economical way to promote and maintain a healthy gut.
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