The Ultimate Guide To Gut Health
Sep 22, 2023
The landscape of human health is highly complex, but one particular area is being praised for its pivotal role in keeping you healthy in almost every area of human health - your gut!
Often cited as the second brain, research continues to uncover the length and depth of the gut’s tentacles with regard to human health so the science is constantly being updated. There are even theories that the enteric system that makes up your gut, acted as the primary brain (ever wonder why your gut feeling is so strong?) in earlier periods of life because digestive capabilities existed far earlier in the evolutionary scale than the advanced thinking that came from our ancestors brains. We will let the science jury decide on that one.
Either way, your gut health is central to your overall health and science agrees with that. At the heart of this powerful influence lies your gut flora, which comprises billions of microbes that call your digestive system home.
JUVIA is specially formulated to support your gut health by breaking down carbohydrates before they reach your gut, which deprives the unfriendly bacteria of its vital food source. This helps the good bacteria to thrive and that restores your guts natural balance.
A Microbial Symphony
You may not have considered it before now, but your microbiome is a hidden world with its own ecosystem. It is the working economy of your body and influences almost every other function.
Comprising of billions of microbes, some friendly, others not so much, this ecosystem works to ensure balance and harmony within itself and the rest of your body. It does this, in part by regulating the number of friendly bacteria over the unfriendly ones, all of which have some kind of influence on your body and health.
As is the case in any ecosystem, these microbes are competing for both space and resources and they have come up with all sorts of clever mechanisms to increase their advantage and influence your decisions, particularly your food choices. You may think those food cravings come from you, but do they really?
The Gut Flora: Pillars of Human Health
While further research will likely uncover more areas of influence, we know that gut health influences these 5 crucial areas of human health. These alone are enough of a reason to pay close attention to and take good care of your gut.
Immunity function: Your gut flora interacts with immune cells to guide them so that they can distinguish between helpful and harmful invaders, essentially training it for optimisation. Think of Maverick training new Top Gun pilots on a crusade to take out baddie microbes and pathogens while leaving the goodies to work their magic.
Your gut is responsible for up to 80% of your immune function.
Weight and fat metabolism: Your gut flora directly influences the way in which your body processes, stores and metabolises energy and fat. If you have an imbalance or lack particular strains of bacteria, this could lead to weight gain and even obesity.
Your gut flora influences your metabolism through the production of short-chain fatty acids, which impact homeostasis (internal balance), and insulin sensitivity, both of which can affect weight management. It also acts as a signalling molecule that triggers the activation of metabolic factors for cholesterol, lipids (fats) and glucos, so your gut health is not to be underestimated.
Scientists believe that new treatments will be discovered that focus on these pathways by managing the populations of particular microbial strains to help people who are chronically overweight.
Some scientists hypothesise that your gut influences hormone production and secretion, but more research is required to establish this fully. One thing is for certain, the future of gut health as an overall indication and solution to general health is looking rather promising.
Mental and emotional health: Perhaps one of the most interesting areas of science today; the gut-brain axis, looks at the bi-directional communication pathways between the brain and the gut. A notable link has been established that shows that our gut health directly influences our mental and emotional health, even to the extent of being able to cause or prevent and heal neurological disorders.
Your gut is responsible for most of the production of your serotonin (up to 90%). This has a huge influence on your mental and emotional health. Previously, scientists believed that your brain was responsible for the production of this important neurotransmitter.
Taking care of your gut health has never been more important. It is highly likely that treatments focussed on improving gut health as a mechanism for improving mental and emotional health will likely emerge in the near to distant future. Stay tuned.
Skin health: Now, we have all been warned about eating certain foods because they will give us spots, but it turns out there is some truth to that old wive’s tale.
Your gut flora has a pathway that communicates directly with your skin. It is believed that the gut flora regulates and influences the skin, perhaps as a clear signal to warn you against eating particular foods that cause inflammation in your body. Again, it is important to listen to these cues, but treatments will likely emerge to help those suffering from long-term skin conditions like psoriasis and acne by treating the gut.
Ageing: The diversity and composition of our gut flora are believed to influence the way and speed that we age. Science is investigating this area to determine whether or not optimising our gut flora can influence and slow down ageing, and perhaps reverse it. It is understood that our gut composition changes as we age and for most people, it involves an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria leading to inflammation. The term ‘inflammaging’ has been coined to describe this phenomenon. Hopefully, in time we will learn how to optimise our gut health for longevity.
Indicators of an unhealthy gut
Gut health is complex and the only way to know whether there is something wrong is through medical or technological examination. Unfortunately, this often proves tricky because medical professionals sometimes misdiagnose or worse fail to diagnose at all. For a long time, the medical community failed to recognise conditions like IBS, which has undermined patient confidence in medical professions.
The reason for this is that the impact of an unhealthy gut is far-reaching, but before now, there was limited research on this matter. There is often an overlap of symptoms making it difficult for a medical professional to isolate the issue to a single cause. The scientific community’s interest in measuring gut health as a factor in overall health is a relatively new field, so time is needed for the research and its implications on potential treatments to filter down to the medical community.
Nonetheless, there are patterns to look out for and if you recognise a cluster of symptoms, you are better placed to explain your condition to a medical professional and hopefully, this will lead to better treatment plans for you.
It is important to note that the following guide is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a diagnosis. Instead, this guide serves as a symptom checklist to aid you when speaking to your medical professional. If you have one or more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor with the view to arrange further tests.
Digestive Issues: Frequent bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, or an unpredictable bowel pattern can suggest an imbalance in gut bacteria.
Food Intolerances: Developing sudden sensitivities or intolerances to certain foods that were once well-tolerated might indicate gut health issues, particularly an imbalance in your gut flora.
Chronic Fatigue: Persistent fatigue, even after adequate rest, might be linked to poor nutrient absorption due to an unhealthy gut. This could even result from blockages along the lining of your intestinal walls.
Unexplained Weight Changes: Rapid weight gain or loss without clear reasons could be linked to gut health disruption that is affecting your metabolism. Your metabolism is largely regulated by your gut and hormones.
Skin Conditions: Acne, eczema, or psoriasis may be associated with gut inflammation and imbalanced gut flora. If you have frequent and unexplainable break-outs, this may be an indication of an underlying gut issue.
Frequent Illness: A weakened immune system stemming from an unhealthy gut can lead to frequent colds, infections, or illnesses. If you find yourself becoming ill quite often, perhaps your gut health could do with a check-up.
Persistent Bad Breath: Poor gut health can contribute to bad breath due to imbalanced digestion and bacteria in the digestive tract. Remember, your digestive tract includes the enzymes produced in your mouth and the function of your oesophagus. Although more research is needed, it is believed that the gut influences and regulates the wider digestive tract.
Mental Health Issues: Anxiety, depression, mood swings, and poor cognitive function can be influenced by the gut-brain connection. This is partly because 90% of your serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin directly influences mood and sleep.
Autoimmune Conditions: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or celiac disease might be linked to imbalances in the gut microbiota. This is because those conditions are often linked to inflammation and this is often an immune response, which is initiated and regulated by your gut.
Chronic Inflammation: For the same reasons as above, ongoing inflammation in the body, without a clear or ‘justifiable’ cause, could point to gut health issues.
Irregular Sleep Patterns: Disruptions in gut health can affect circadian rhythms and sleep quality, leading to insomnia or restless sleep. Also, because of the role serotonin plays in sleep, which is produced by your gut.
Strong Sugar and Carbohydrate Cravings: An overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria can influence cravings for sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods. You might think it is you craving those sugary treats, but actually, the microbes living inside you have found sophisticated ways to influence your behaviour for their own benefit. This is particularly true with regard to your food choices.
Joint Pain: Inflammation originating from the gut can trigger or worsen joint pain conditions like arthritis. If you are suffering from joint pain and you are also experiencing tummy trouble like bloating, diarrhoea or constipation, it may be time to take a closer look at your gut health.
Lethargy and Brain Fog: Feeling sluggish and experiencing difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly could relate to gut health, particularly if you are not absorbing all of the nutrients from your food.
Recurrent Yeast Infections: Frequent yeast infections, such as candidiasis, might be connected to an imbalance in gut bacteria. If you experience this quite frequently and also experience the effects of a sensitive tummy, there may be a link. Speak to your doctor about doing further tests.
Nurturing your gut for good health
It is clear to see that your gut health is vital to your overall health, so taking care of your microbiome should become a health priority.
Fortunately, taking care of your gut is easier than you might think and cheaper than your average gym membership, although we won’t be telling you to give that up any time soon.
Below are 5 tips that can really help you restore your gut to good health, which will lead to a brighter, happier, and healthier you.
Supplements: It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of supplements and unfortunately, most of them don’t live up to the hype. That is no less true in the arena of gut health, so don’t get caught in the hole.
Prebiotics and probiotics may have a modest impact, but they are far less effective than your dietary choices. If you consider the sheer weight and volume limitations, it is easy to understand why they fall short. Every single item of food you consume has billions of microbes. Almost anything you eat will be larger in volume and greater in weight than the tiny capsules you take containing pre or probiotics. That said, the content of those tiny capsules, most of which won’t survive the harsh acidic journey to your gut, will be competing with the vast volume of microbes you consume from your food. To put this in perspective, it is like expecting all of the players on a football pitch to win a fight against all the spectating fans - unlikely to happen.
Another issue that you may face with probiotics is that your body may treat the surviving bacteria as a foreign invader. This will lead to an inflammatory response, which defeats the purpose of taking them.
Instead, try JUVIA. JUVIA is a plant-based enzyme-rich formula designed to support your friendly bacteria to thrive by depriving the unfriendly bacteria of their vital food source - sugar.
There's nothing like JUVIA on the market. Our natural plant-based ingredient ERME™ contains active digestive enzymes, which help break down carbohydrates before they can cause problems in your gut, and it’s all supported by over a decade of scientific research, all with consistent results.
Studies have shown that ERME supports:
- The diversification of gut bacteria (which improves the capability and resilience of the gut)
- An increase in valuable bacteria, particularly those that produce butyrate (important for cells of the gut wall) and those that have an anti-inflammatory response
- A significant decrease in the toxins in your gut
Diet: Diet is of course paramount to your gut microbiome because this ecosystem derives its contents almost exclusively from what you eat. That said, what you put in your body directly influences and shapes your inner world, which later impacts your wider health.
To ensure a good and healthy balance it is important to have a diverse diet filled with lots of fruit and vegetables. Keep meat consumption low and at all costs avoid highly processed foods and products high in sugar. Sugar is the catalyst that fuels harmful bacteria, which leads to chronic inflammation.
Eating organic options is better because you will introduce fewer harmful invaders (pesticides and preservatives). If possible, avoid or minimise products and sauces that contain an array of ingredients because most of those will be junk, especially flavourings and preservatives - or worse, sugar. Aim to make your food from fresh using individual ingredients, that way you know precisely what goes into your body.
Eat a diet that is high in omega-3 fatty acids because they help reduce inflammation in the body. You can find them in fish, flaxseeds and walnuts.
Exercise regularly: Exercise directly impacts the gut. It stimulates bowel movements and aids your good bacteria. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate, but challenging exercise each week. Your gut and health will thank you for it.
Sleep well: Just like exercise, sleep directly impacts your gut health, which further reinforces the gut-brain axis. Markedly, sleep also regulates your dietary choices, so it has a knock-on effect. When sleep-deprived, you will make poorer dietary decisions by gravitating toward higher calorie dense foods like fats and sugars. This was evolution’s way of ensuring that you compensate for a lack of energy and preparing you for an inevitable sleep crash later, where you may lose out on food selection to your competition during critical times, like winter. Either way the science is clear; if you sleep better, your gut health will improve and you will be better placed to make conscious food decisions that optimise your gut health further.
Practice mindfulness: The ancient Eastern art of mindfulness and meditation has grown in popularity in recent years and for good reason. Heralded as a successful way to treat depression and anxiety, and to generally promote a sense of wellbeing, practices like meditation and yoga should become part of your daily routine for another good reason. Studies have proven that meditation and yoga directly benefit your gut microbiome. By instilling a sense of calm you can reduce your inflammation and negate the effects of cortisol, which are released as a result of stress. Stress is harmful to your body and in particular to your gut.
Check out our mindfulness guide here.
The gut is not just a digestive organ; it's a complex universe teeming with life that influences our well-being in remarkable ways. From fostering a robust immune system to promoting clear skin, maintaining a healthy weight, nurturing mental health, and supporting graceful ageing – your gut flora holds the key to good health.
As we journey through life, let's remember that our choices shape our gut flora, which in turn shapes us (quite literally). By embracing a lifestyle that prioritises diverse and balanced gut microbiota, we embark on a path of vibrant health and holistic well-being. So, savour those nutrient-rich foods, practice mindfulness, and treat your gut with the care it deserves – for within it lies the foundation of your vitality and longevity.
For added benefits, add a tablespoon of JUVIA to your daily routine and your gut health will thank you for it.
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