Gut health and diet
For this 3-part blog series of the week, this last article will focus on gut health and diet. By now, you would have known that gut health refers to the overall health and well-being of your digestive system to put it in simple terms. This includes the stomach, intestines, and other organs involved in the digestion and absorption of food nutrients in a human body.
Good gut health means that your digestive system is functioning properly and efficiently, and that you have a proper bacterial balance. To maintain this, it’s important to follow a diet that is higher in fat content and much lower in simple and complex carbohydrates. When adopting this type of diet, it allows you to utilize healthy fat as fuel, and helps to your digestive system to process the most unhealthy properties first, thus utilizing fat as fuel. When you utilize fat as fuel, you don’t store fat, thus leading to a healthier you. This transformation does not take long to achieve.
In addition to a good diet, a lifestyle including regular exercise and enough hours of sleep can help train your body to avoid unnecessary stress and unhealthy habits such as habitual smoking and drinking alcohol. Although this may be commonly known, there is a more thorough explanation.
When your liver if functioning at a high level, it is not being overworked. When it is functioning at suboptimal level, it is being worked too hard. Your digestive process triggers your liver to help process the most toxic things in your diet first. If it spends all of its time and energy processing the most toxic properties of your diet first, it has no choice but to store the more healthy properties. So if it is spending time processing simple sugars, processed foods, and excess alcohol, it will store fat, thus increasing fat, thus increasing your bodies inflammation. If you limit this unhealthy dietary habits, your body will utilize fat as fuel and the result will be healthier feeling you.
The foods you consume can have a significant impact on gut health and function of bodily systems linked to it. In the previous blogs, you’ve also learned about the use of probiotics and prebiotics that can aid in improving gut health and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.
Your diet can directly impact a healthy gut microbiome which should have a diverse, balanced, and wide range of beneficial bacteria. This complex community of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract play an important role in nutrient absorption, digestion, immune system regulation, and brain function.
Doctors recommend a balanced diet, especially to promote gut health, in order to enjoy these benefits:
- Improved mental health and cognitive function
- Reduced inflammation throughout the body
- Improved digestion and nutrient absorption
- Boosted immune system function
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers
- Improved weight management and metabolic health
In conclusion, taking care of your gut health will have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being. It’s crucial that you pay attention to your body before it gets worse so that you can make good choices that support good gut health.
To read further about our philosophy on diet, click below to learn more!
- World Health Organization (2015). Healthy diet. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet
- Harvard Health Publishing (2018). The gut-brain connection. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2017). Your Digestive System and How It Works. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works
Gut health and inflammation are two subjects that have been receiving increasing interest from the medical community in recent years and also serves as a premise of our program.
Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to injury, infection, or stress. This is a healthy and natural process for our body to heal. However, chronic inflammation is not natural, nor healthy. Chronic inflammation can cause different health issues such as autoimmune disease, chronic arthritis, Alzheimers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and even cancer.
The gut, on the other hand, contains trillions of microorganisms, also referred to as the microbiota. It assists in regulating the immune system and keeping your gut healthy.
This blog aims to explore the relationship between inflammation and gut health and offer recommendations for keeping the gut healthy.
Tips in Maintaining a Healthy Gut
First, let’s take a closer look at inflammation.
As a reaction to irritants like pathogens or toxins, the immune system releases cytokines that prompts the immune cells to migrate to the site of injury or infection to initiate healing. Inflammation naturally recedes once the threat has been resolved. However, chronic inflammation happens when the body experiences prolonged stress, environmental toxins, or a diet high in processed foods and sugar, resulting in an overactive immune system.
Now, let’s talk about gut health.
The gut microbiota is a thriving community of microorganisms. These tiny creatures keep our immune system in check and support a healthy gut. The mucosal layer is a special lining that protects the gut. It acts as a defense against harmful substances from penetrating the bloodstream. For the layer to be strong, the gut microbiota produces short fatty acids to nourish the cells.
So, what can we do to maintain a healthy gut and reduce inflammation? Here are some tips:
- Observe a whole food diet.
Eat foods that are higher in fat content, but lower in carbohydrate count. Here is a list of many healthy recipes to consider. (Insert link to our recipe page on website)
- Avoid processed and sugary foods.
Process and sugary foods can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiota, resulting in inflammation and a range of health problems.
- Consume probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that nurture the gut microbiota. You can find probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, and prebiotics in foods like garlic, onions, and leeks. Although not all prebiotics and probiotics are created equal, it is generally a healthy habit to consume them.
- Manage chronic stress.
Regular stress is a very natural and healthy thing. Stress is your bodies natural response to a situation, which often induces focus. In short periods of time, there is a big upside to stress. However, chronic stress leads to the over-activation of the immune system and chronic inflammation. Reduce stress! Try practices like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing, as well as proper rest. We have found that measuring things like sleep will create personal accountability, and thus assist in stress reduction.
To sum up, gut health and inflammation are two topics that are almost intertwined. The gut microbiota regulates the immune system and maintains gut health. A healthy gut can help to minimize inflammation and prevent a variety of health problems. By following the tips outlined above, you can take steps to maintain a healthy gut and reduce inflammation in your body.
We are excited to provide to you the last installment next in this three part series related to gut health and your diet! Stay tuned!
- Ciorba, M. A. (2012). A gastroenterologist’s guide to probiotics. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 10(9), 960-968.
- Gibson, G. R., Hutkins, R., Sanders, M. E., Prescott, S. L., Reimer, R. A., Salminen, S. J., … & Scott, K. (2017). Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Altered Gut Microbiota and Its Clinical Relevance in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease: Shanghai Aging Study and Shanghai Memory Study
Authors: Zheng Zhu, Xiaoxi Ma, Jie Wu, Zhenxu Xiao, Wanqing Wu, Saineng Ding, Li Zheng, Xiaoniu Liang, Jianfeng Luo, Ding Ding, Qianhua Zhao
Full Research Paper: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36235612/
Research Paper Summary:
The research paper “Altered Gut Microbiota and Its Clinical Relevance in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease: Shanghai Aging Study and Shanghai Memory Study” investigates the relationship between gut microbiota and cognitive impairment, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study analyzed fecal samples from 128 participants, including healthy individuals, those with MCI, and those with AD, and found that the gut microbiota composition of individuals with cognitive impairment was significantly different from that of healthy individuals. Specifically, the study found that individuals with cognitive impairment had lower levels of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, and higher levels of harmful bacteria, such as Escherichia coli.
The study also found a correlation between gut microbiota composition and cognitive performance, with individuals with MCI and AD showing poorer cognitive performance and lower levels of beneficial bacteria. These findings suggest that the gut microbiota may play a role in the development and progression of cognitive impairment, and that maintaining a healthy gut microbiota may have clinical implications for preventing or treating cognitive decline.
Overall, the study highlights the potential importance of the gut-brain axis in cognitive health, and suggests that future research should explore the mechanisms underlying this relationship and the potential for interventions to improve gut microbiota composition in individuals with cognitive impairment.
In a podcast episode on “The Huberman Lab“, Andrew Huberman explores the effects of alcohol on the brain. He begins by discussing the ways in which alcohol consumption can impair brain function, including reduced cognitive abilities and impaired decision-making.
Huberman goes on to explain that alcohol affects various parts of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functions such as decision-making, and the hippocampus, which is involved in memory and learning. He notes that alcohol can interfere with the communication between neurons in these regions, leading to a range of cognitive and behavioral effects.
Moreover, Huberman points out that alcohol consumption can also have long-term effects on the brain, including an increased risk of developing neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. He explains that chronic alcohol use can damage neurons and disrupt brain function over time, leading to cognitive decline and other neurological problems.
However, Huberman notes that moderate alcohol consumption may not have the same negative effects on the brain as heavy or chronic use. He explains that moderate drinking may have some health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Nevertheless, he emphasizes the importance of moderation and responsible drinking, as excessive alcohol consumption can have serious negative effects on both short-term and long-term brain function.
Overall, Huberman’s podcast provides a comprehensive overview of the effects of alcohol on the brain. It serves as a reminder of the importance of responsible drinking and the potential risks associated with excessive or chronic alcohol use.