Hey everyone! Gigi here, we’ve all heard of gut heath and how each of us have a unique microbiome. Our digestive system which consist of the pathway that foods travel through to break down, is so intimately connected to our nervous and immune systems.
This post is going to explore the what, the why and the how information on gut health can be applied into our own lives for optimal living.
So what exactly is the microbiome? The microbiome is an entirely unique network consisting of trillions of microorganisms determined by one’s DNA. On a microscopic level, picture a bustling city (the gut) on a weekday morning with people (the microorganisms) rushing to get to work or to appointments. In a healthy person, these microorganisms help support smooth daily operations in our body. Think of smoother traffic flow and less rush hour. These “bugs” offer us protection from diseases while we support them through food. Peace and co-existence at its best.
So how is our microbiome connected to our nervous system (aka the brain)? In actuality, they’re pretty much best friends and by using a 2-way relationship, in which their love language is through chemicals, called neurotransmitters and hormones, they make up the gut-brain axis. Due to this tight-knit relationship, our gut actually holds as many nerves as the brain and has been dubbed “The Second Brain.” A key hormone produced in the gut is called “serotonin.” Think of serotonin like the happy, calm hormone that acts like a natural antidepressant. In fact, 95% of serotonin production happens in our gut, so don’t ignore that “gut feeling” because your microbiome is smarter than you think.
Now that we’ve touched on the gut-brain axis, let’s talk about another relationship. Our immune system! Our immune system is directly affected by the things we eat. Think about the foods we eat as setting up the foundation and network of this unique microbiome. What’s present in our gut directly affects our immune systems education. The western diet which consists primarily of processed sugar, fats and protein does not offer a wide variety of dietary foods which increases the the risk for systemic inflammation. Therefore, including diversity in your diet will offer the best foundation for gut health. In fact, 70% of our immune system is located in our gut.
So now the next question is what can we do to give our gut it’s best shot for quality of life? There are numerous types of foods that enable optimized gut health but we will talk about one other big buzz word, and for good reason. Probiotics, which are good microbes that assist in gut health and digestion, are present in fermented foods. Think of them as the happy helpers of the microbiome. These “good bacteria” are in foods like:
- raw milk and dairy products
If you enjoy making recipes with probiotics, feel free to check out Cultured Guru. They have really tasty treats for anyone looking to improve their gut health!
I hope you enjoyed reading this and try out some new recipes to help your gut. Happy eating and let us know if you find a good one!