New medical research and studies are gearing towards gut health. This is isn't a surprise when 90% of our cells include bacteria, archaea and the odd fungal species - so we're only 10% human. Odd to think about, huh? Although events such as vaginal versus cesarean birth, the diversity of our diet after weening, and other hereditary factors do play an extremely important role in the overall diversity and strength of our gut health, there are many environmental factors we can control that will effect it.
Gut health is the epitome of all health. Or gut is literally called our "second brain" because the bacteria communicates with all facets of our brain along the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve, and is the main afferent pathway connecting the gut to the brain. Our mood, emotions, clarity of thought, inflammation, pain receptors, and more are effected positively or negatively based on our gut health.
Fiber is among the most important dietary nutrient that will strengthen our gut health and overall wellbeing. Fiber feeds and makes the bacteria in our gut thrive! Although fiber in high doses or eaten when our gut health is poor will cause gas and bloat, after some time of slowly introducing high fiber foods into our diet the gas/bloat will start to decrease. Some foods that you will want to increase include: vegetables, fruits with skin, legumes/beans/lentils, and whole grains. These foods act as prebiotic (food) for probiotics (healthy gut bacteria).
Increasing the diversity of probiotics we consume is also another way to promote gut health. We have over 100 trillion different types of probiotics living in our gut, therefore, we cannot just rely on the same source to fuel the diversity. Diversity is just as important as quantity when it comes to gut health. So, one week you might eat a Greek yogurt, while another week you swap it our for Kiefer (cousin strain of yogurt with higher probiotics), and yet another week you are eating something else fermented such as: kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, pickled beets, etc.
My girlfriend who just started her physician's assistant (PA) program at Creighton Uni is part of the growing Functional Medicine field. Gut health is at the forefront and we're going to be hearing a lot more about this field of study and how it effects every aspect of our health in the coming years.
What do you already know about this field of study? What should we and our readers know?
Please share you comments as we would love to hear more about gut health! In the meantime, feed that gut of yours something fermented - we are what we eat!