The human gut is complex and has a significant impact on your overall health, but did you know it affects your entire body?
From your cardiovascular health and immune levels to your digestive function and mental health, a healthy gut plays a key role in your overall wellbeing.
It’s no secret that our gut microbiome, which includes bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, plays an important role in digestion and the absorption of key nutrients and minerals that we consume. However, more evidence has emerged over the past few decades showing that a healthy gut microbiome also plays a role in disease prevention and our body’s overall health.
The gut-brain connection
One of the biggest surprises for many people is how closely related the gut and brain are. Research shows that the gut and brain communicate – the vagus nerve is one of the largest nerves connecting the two. This is known as the gut-brain axis.
The gut itself has been labelled by several people in the medical industry as the ‘second brain’ – and for good reason as it contains about 500 million neurons. There is also strong research to support the correlation between inflammation of the gut and mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. “Depression, anxiety – these and other disorders are directly linked to what happens in the gut,” says UNSW Professor of Medicine and consultant gastroenterologist Emad El-Omar.
Our immune system
Our immune system helps defends the body against infection and studies show that our gut microbiota has a major effect on both our innate and adaptive immune system. But gut microbiota has also been linked to autoimmune diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Rheumatoid Arthritis. In fact, recent research from the UK revealed that bad bacteria in the gut bacteria might be involved in the development of arthritis.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death in Australia, responsible for causing one in four (26 per cent) of all deaths, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Research suggests that an unhealthy gut microbiome could play a role in cardiovascular disease. A well-documented risk factor for cardiovascular disease is the hardening of arteries and a UK study discovered that poor gut diversity was found to be associated with arterial stiffness in women. This is just one of the many reasons why I recommend a wholesome diet, consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables and low in salt and sugar. A diverse diet with plenty of healthy fats, wholegrains and plants is not only good for your gut, but your heart too.
A healthy gut can improve all aspects of your life, from brain function to heart health and energy levels. Start improving your gut health by joining our Feel Fabulous By Friday program!