How many times have you been told to “listen to your gut,” that feeling inside that helps guide your decisions? While that sixth sense guidance can be helpful, listening to your actual gut could be one of the best health decisions you make. The gut microbiome, made up of the microorganisms that live in our intestinal tract, and gut health have gained attention in the medical community for their links to whole body health and wellness. Research supports us supporting our guts.
Why should you care about your gut?
Poor gut health has been linked to everything from digestive issues such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), heart disease, colon cancer, and depression and anxiety. “The health of each part of our body is interconnected. The health of our gut is deeply linked to the overall health of our body,” says Dr. Sunana Sohi, gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Health Partners.
Our gut, which is composed of thousands of strains of bacteria in our intestines and colon, is responsible for breaking down the foods we eat and providing the nutrients needed by the rest of our body to function properly. If your gut health is suffering, it will have other negative health consequences.
Your gut contains both good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria keep your digestive system functioning properly. If gut bacteria are off balance you enter into a state of dysbiosis. In this state, the unhelpful bacteria that live in the gut overpower the helpful bacteria, which can lead to a host of health issues. The good news is that you can take action and get your gut back to a healthy state. “Dysbiosis is reversible! Studies have shown that by switching to a plant-rich diet, changes in the microbiome can happen in as little as a few weeks,” says Dr. Sohi.
“Our gut is sometimes considered our ‘second brain’, so just like we protect our head with helmets and rest, we need to do the same with our gut. Giving it proper nutrition, probiotics, and balancing our fat and sugar/carbs is so important, as well as rest,” says Angie Endler, nutrition programs coordinator at Dare to Care Food Bank. Making a conscious decision to treat your gut right is key to keeping your entire body healthy.
By Tami Pyles