Wtf is ‘gut health’ and how do I keep up with it?

Gut health is the bogey man on social media. Every health influencer is talking about it and every supplement is needed to help it. But how important really is your gut health? And how can you really help it?

Shelley Balls, a licensed dietitian and owner of Fuelling Your Lifestyle LLC, says she has seen the topic of gut health explode over the last decade.

“Starting at a young age, I think one of the most important things you can do for your health is ensuring you’re living a lifestyle that promotes overall gut health so you can reap the many benefits a healthy microbiome can provide you”

So yeah, your gut is pretty important. Studies have found links to gut health and immunity, mental/brain health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, blood pressure, and bone health.

Your gut (gastrointestinal system) includes your oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Essentially, it breaks down our food and absorbs nutrients that support the rest of our body.

Your gut also contains trillions of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi. Together they are the microbiome. Everyone’s microbiome is unique and changes depending on our eating habits and our environment. Even being born via C-section can effect your microbiome.

To improve the health of your microbiome and your gut, Shelley recommends a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics, but there is also research suggesting that the type of exercise you do can influence your gut health.

“Research has found the higher the intensity of physical activity the more gut bacteria there is, which promotes a healthy gut. Your microbiome is also influenced by stress, how you eat, and even your sleep habits”

Finally, she says, “Everyone has a different version of a gut-friendly eating plan, what works for some might not work for you, and vice versa. For example, Greek yogurt might be gut-friendly to one person, but it can cause serious issues with someone living with a dairy allergy. One thing is for sure though, a diet high in processed foods such as chips, refined grains, pre-packaged foods, and added sugars can limit your intake of pre and probiotics and lead to decreased bacteria and diversity in the gut.”

To read more about looking after your health, check out Messy’s article on preventative care and check ups here.

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