That is what Hippocrates (a smart guy who is sometimes referred to as the "Father of Medicine") said more than 2000 years ago and finally we start to catch up on this. The influence of the gut on our health and wellbeing has been in the front-line studies for the past few years and that’s because one of the most underrated systems in out body - the digestive one- turns out to be paramount for our health.
Let me tell you some interesting facts about our gut (aka digestive system):
- Between 60-70% of the body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract. Throughout the intestines there are tissues which store immune cells as well as cells containing antibodies, and there are also lymphatic nodules which act as filtration systems for microbes, pretty amazing isn’t it? So, a poor gut health may be the cause of low immunity.
- The digestive system is often called the second brain and that’s because if the nerve which connects the brain and the digestive system (called the vagus nerve) is cut, the digestive system functions fine on its own.
- 80-90 % of your serotonin is made in the gut. Having a healthy gut may play a crucial role in having a happy mood. On the other hand, an unhealthy gut could make us grumpy and depressed.
- The digestive tract is a vital detoxification organ.
- A poor digestion may lead to undigested foods and toxins which can lead to allergies, skin problems and all sorts of other health issues.
- The microbiome, which is a complex ecosystem of bacteria - the majority of it living in our digestive system, has been linked to our overall health: it supports efficient digestion, nutrient absorption, waste excretion, it synthesises certain nutrients including B vitamins, it can help keep our hormones in balance, and it may have an impact on our brain health.
So, a healthy gut may be the key to be happy and healthy :) And the good news is that there are loads of things we can do to cultivate a healthy gut such as:
- Reducing the consumption of high sugar and trans fats foods as they can be detrimental to our microbiome.
- Reducing stress in your life. I would need pages to write about how stress hinders our body functions so I will keep it simple here :) Mediate, walk, exercise, breathe…
- Caffeine (from teas, coffees, energy drinks) is a stimulant which triggers the ‘fight or flight’ system while in the same time it switches off the ‘rest and digest’ one, so reducing caffeine consumption may aid our digestion.
- Alcohol is another stimulant that can damage the mucus in our small intestines and colon and can lead to leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability) which is not good at all.
- Eating lots of vegetables, as well as fermented foods.
- Chewing the food properly and taking a break from doing anything else while eating. A few deep breaths before you start eating can do wonders to your digestion.