Did you know that your gut is responsible for more than just digesting your dinner? The human gut plays a key role in the immune system, as well as weight control, mental health and overall wellbeing. It’s so important, that it’s sometimes referred to the ‘second brain’.
You’ve probably heard about ‘gut flora’, possibly in a sentence that also involves yoghurt or probiotics. But what are they actually, and why are they so important?
Gut flora refers to the 100 trillion (plus!) bacteria that live inside our intestines. But don’t worry – these little visitors are what keeps your gut going and gives it its amazing powers. They help regulate inflammation in the body, which is important as inflammation is linked to diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. An imbalance in your gut flora can cause all manner of conditions, including fatigue, skin conditions and asthma.
And if that wasn’t already impressive enough, your gut also produces serotonin – the neurotransmitter responsible for your mood – and contains 70% of your immune tissue.
So if your gut is so important, what does it mean when you’re feeling a bit, well…bloated?
The good news is that it’s probably completely normal. Some bloating, especially at the end of the day, is to be expected and doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. Some hormones (especially in women) can cause bloating, It can also just mean that you’ve been eating more than you need. However, if it’s persistent, painful or unusual, see a doctor as it can be a symptom of a food allergy or irritable bowel syndrome.
How can you keep your gut in top condition?
The friendly community of bacteria that live in your gut are influenced by what you eat. Probiotics – or food that actually contains bacteria – are an important way to maintain healthy levels of bacteria and support that immune tissue we talked about earlier. Fermented food contains probiotics: yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha are all good sources of probiotics. Food high in fibre is important for keeping the bacteria in your gut diverse, as this is key to a healthy balance. A diet high in sugars and processed food encourages the growth of bad bacteria, and can disrupt that all-important balance. Try to keep your meals full of whole, fresh food and swap sugar for Norbu to cut down on added sugar in your diet.