Gut instinct: Your second brain is in your stomach, here is everything you need know
It's important to understand the detoxification of your entire body and gut. As you know, most of your immunity as well as most diseases originate in the gut. That's why everything starts in your gut and if you keep your gut clean, if you keep your gut functioning the right way, you have the power to eliminate and heal most diseases.
Our gut is quite literally our second brain, as it originates from the same type of tissue as our brain! During fetal development, one part turns into the central nervous system, while the other develops into the enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from our brain stem down to our abdomen. Hence, our gut and brain work in tandem, each influencing the other. This is why our intestinal health can have such a profound influence on our mental health and vice versa. If we have more bad bacteria or fungus than good bacteria in the gut, even the healthy food we eat will not be assimilated the right way. Whether we choose to eat clean, organic or expensive foods, it doesn’t matter if our gut microflora is out of balance. That’s where probiotics come in.
Importance of probiotics
Probiotics are the live good bacteria present in certain fermented foods. They perform several functions that contribute to good health and immunity.
Their most basic function is to fight harmful foreign substances that enter the body and ease their elimination from the body. Probiotics can also help us prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. Probiotics not only help in improving gut health but they can even lower our serum cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing the activity of an enzyme involved in the synthesis of cholesterol. Good bacteria also acts like a competitor for bad bacteria (competing for food and space) which helps to keep their numbers low.
Sometimes, taking antibiotics can trigger diarrhoea, because these strong medicines can kill ‘good’ bacteria while they target the bad. Probiotics can help prevent this type of diarrhoea in both adults and children. People on antibiotics must take probiotics to combat gastrointestinal side effects of the medication.
Our gut has trillions of healthy bacteria that work to maintain normal gastrointestinal function, protect our body from infection-causing bad bacteria, regulate metabolism and the immune system. In fact, they comprise of more than 75 percent of the immune system. Probiotics also keep the GI barriers intact which in turn maintains gut health, while a problem with its microbiota composition will affect the body’s defense systems and can cause a condition known as leaky gut syndrome.
Our diet is the most important element when it comes to building gut health. We need to make sure our diet contains natural probiotics or one can go for a sugarless probiotic supplement.
Here are some top natural probiotic-rich foods: A2 curd, coconut curd, almond milk curd, rice kanji, spirulina, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, chlorella and kombucha.
What are prebiotics?
Apart from probiotics, maintaining optimal gut health also requires prebiotics. Prebiotic is a plant fibre (oligosaccharides) that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria in the gut. While probiotics adds good bacteria into our digestive system, prebiotics act as a fertiliser for the good bacteria that’s already there. Prebiotics help our good bacteria to grow by improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio. This ratio has been shown to have a direct correlation to our health and overall wellbeing, from our stomach to brain.
Prebiotic fibre is found in many fruits and vegetables, such as the skin of apples (2 gms), bananas (3gms), pineapple, onions (1.7gms) and garlic, beans, asparagus, gluten-free oats or groats (3 gms), flaxseeds (4-5gms fibre in a tbsp of flaxseeds), barley, wheat and oats bran, ACV (apple cider vinegar) with mother culture and so on. Sounds easy to get enough prebiotic fibre, right? We need to make a conscious effort to increase our fibre intake or best to supplement it (a pro+prebiotic composition).
Keep your gut health good you keep your immunity strong. It is all about immunity when it comes to the prevention and healing of all diseases.
(The writer is the Chief Nutrition Officer, Luke Coutinho Holistic Healing Systems. She is a clinical nutritionist with a focus on healthy lifestyle choices.)
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