Last weekend I spent my Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning in a classroom with about 20 other nutrition enthusiasts. We started to look at the make up of the human body and in particular the digestive system.
I became fascinated by the digestive system after my first trip to a naturopath in 2011. I turned to a naturopath, as other doctors couldn’t tell me why I was feeling constantly tired, low and often bloated. The naturopath looked at my tongue, tapped my stomach and knew what tests to run: hormones and a stool test (yummy)!
The results showed I had an estrogen dominance and too much ‘bad’ bacteria in my gut. I started a series of treatments: probiotics, acupuncture, nutritional changes and homeopathy. This wasn’t a quick fix. It took about 2 years for my hormones to re-balance, but my bloated stomach and well-being increased after about 3 months.
It was this natural ‘healing’ that triggered the fascination with the digestive system and the deeper I dug, the more important I found it to be. It turns out it makes-up two thirds of our immune system and produces 90% of the body’s serotonin.
This field of study is gaining more and more traction and scientists are becoming increasingly aware of the connection between a healthy gut and a healthy mind. Even more reason to pay attention to what we put in our mouths…
What makes a healthy gut?
Firstly, when I talk of ‘gut’ I mean your stomach and intestines. It’s actually your small intestine that is responsible for the absorption of nutrients. The small intestine is about 4-6 metres long and has a surface area of 200 square metres: slightly bigger than a tennis court!
Trillions of bacteria live in our gut and there is a delicate balance required for us to digest and absorb food properly. This article from mind body green summarises it quite nicely, explaining how our gut flora can get off-balance.
If you think about our diets today: high sugar content, alcohol consumption, animals pumped with antibiotics and the over prescription of antibiotics, most of us are probably in the process of feeding our ‘bad’ bacteria as I write.
So, how do we feed the GOOD bacteria? Well, they seem to love fermented foods – check out this list of fermented foods and vegetables and find out how you can reseed your gut with healthy bacteria.
If you are interested in “How bacteria talk” and how they keep us alive, watch this video: