Everyone knows that the gut plays an important role in how we extract nutrients from the food we eat, but there are other incredibly important functions that the gut performs – many of which have only been brought to light recently. For example, the gut plays an important role in the body’s immune response, and houses nearly 70% of the immune system. When you consider the enormous implications of the performance of the immune system, it stands to reason that your gut health should be made a priority.
Put in simple terms, everything that passes through the gastrointestinal tract is effective “outside” of a person, in the sense that the rest of the body and organs are kept separate. All of the body’s important organs and functions are kept protected by the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. This is the result of many millions of years of evolution, and the resulting design works quite well – if treated properly.
Importance Of Fiber
Recent research places a close association between fiber and successful aging. In this research, “successful aging” is defined as aging which is devoid of physical/mental disability or other chronic damage. While there is still much to be discovered in terms of the role of fiber, there appears to be mounting evidence that it is important for the diversity and proper functioning of the gut microbiome.
Within each of our guts reside as many as 100 trillion microbes that function as an adjunct to the human body. These microorganisms serve us in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. However, modern dietary habits of the West lend themselves to a lack of diversity among microbial communities. This potentially translates to a hindered performance of our bodies as a result.
While fiber can help with the regularity of the bowels, for some people, irregularity persists. In these cases, polyethylene glycol drugs like Miralax can be of great utility. You can even get brand name medication at a bargain price with a Miralax coupon card.
Another important facet of gut health that still eludes common knowledge status is its close association with brain health. The interaction between the nervous system and gut microbes takes place at all levels of complexity. In fact, there is a reason to suspect that a malfunctioning of the gut may have a role in autism.
In many individuals with autism, there are confounding inflammatory conditions in the gut. In addition, when compared with healthy subjects, children with autism had altered levels of certain bacterial species within their gut. Understanding the association between the gut and the pathology of autism has also lead to promising research recently, which seems to show that sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli sprouts, alleviates behavioral symptoms of autism.
You may have heard that antibiotics cause harm in the long run, or contribute to the creation of “superbugs”, but the details generally thin out from there. The truth is, antibiotics can cause harm by throwing off the delicate balance of bacteria found in the GI tract. This is one of the principal reasons why they should be used sparingly and avoided if possible.
That said, it is important that they not be vilified entirely. Antibiotics can and do save lives, and there are certainly cases where taking antibiotics are the best course of action. But taking them any more often than necessary only does your microbiome a disservice.
While antibiotics kill off microbes in your stomach, probiotics can help diversify the populations as well as bolster the number of helpful bacteria. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, and pickles make for excellent probiotics, so add them to your diet every now and then. You can also opt to take probiotic supplements, which will act in a similar way to your gut bacteria.
There is scarcely a situation in which drinking more water is a bad thing. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to your gut and normal functioning, sufficient hydration is a big help. Nearly every bodily function requires water, so be sure to err on the side of caution.
The Dairy Dilemma
While some people are fine with some dairy in their diet, others are simply incompatible with it. You may have met a person that has some form of lactose intolerance but continues to willingly suffer the consequences of dairy consumption because they like it so much. Some of this may be due to casomorphins, which are molecularly similar to morphine and are derived from the milk protein casein. This keeps people feeling good enough to come back for more cheese in spite of the price they will eventually pay.
To see what best works for you, conduct a trial phase with yourself in which you abstain from dairy for a few weeks. If you feel better, it’s probably a sign you should stay away from it.
About The Author:
Richie started Hurricane Fitness in 2011. Starting out as a Boxer at the age of 11 and winning County, Provincial, National and International medals in Boxing, he began running fitness classes and personal training. Since then he has gone on to work alongside Olympic, World and European Champions and has trained many clients, both at home and abroad, with a wide range of goals and needs. You can find him on his website; hurricanefitnessireland.com, or on his Facebook or Instagram page.