‘Gut Health’ is an extremely popular topic at present and rightly so. Your gut is made up of trillions of microorganisms. Including bacteria, fungi and viruses. All together these trusted trio are known as your gut microbiome. Our gut plays an incredibly important role within our health. Including mental health (1), optimised immune-functioning (2) and nutrient absorption. The gut is the largest endocrine gland (3) and is essential for your overall well-being (4). With heaps of conflicting and confusing advice out there, so close to our fingertips, this article will help to broaden your knowledge on what is gut health and why it is important to help optimise the health of your entire body.
What is gut health?
The term gut health is used to describe the function and balance of the microorganisms that live within your digestive system. Being in either a healthy or an unhealthy balance. A lot of the time when thinking about gut health we focus on the area of our stomach, when really, we need to be considering the entire digestive system (5). From the moment any food or drink touches the taste buds on your tongue, the connection to aiding or disrupting the health of the gut begins. Now, despite the complexity of the gut physiology, the simple take away is that the overall balance of the gut microbiome will determine your health.
Why is having a healthy gut important?
The health of your gut reflects the overall health and well-being of yourself. Your gut microbiome oversees a magnitude of bodily functions and processes. Including:
- Absorbing nutrients and vitamins from food
- Hormone creation – your gut is the largest endocrine gland within your body.
- Regulating energy levels, bile and cholesterol levels
- Supporting the immune system
- Serotonin production – a staggering 90% of the ‘happy’ hormone is made within the gut. (6)
- Sleep quality
How does this link to an improved health?
- Skin, hair and nails healthier and stronger
- Increased energy levels
- Enhanced mental health with more stable moods.
- Reduced risk of illness, disease and depression
- Increase life expectancy.
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0074774216301428 (1) Dawson, S., Dash, S., & Jacka, F. (2016). The Importance of Diet and Gut Health to the Treatment and Prevention of Mental Disorders. International Review Of Neurobiology, 325-346. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2016.08.009
- Bischoff, S. (2011). ‘Gut health’: a new objective in medicine?. BMC Medicine, 9(1). doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-9-24
- Endocrine-related Organs | Hormone Health Network. (2019). Retrieved 12 March 2021, from https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/glands/endocrine-related-organs
- Thursby, E., & Juge, N. (2017). Introduction to the human gut microbiota. Biochemical Journal, 474(11), 1823-1836. doi: 10.1042/bcj20160510
- Margolis, K., Cryan, J., & Mayer, E. (2021). The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: From Motility to Mood. Gastroenterology. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.10.066
- Study shows how serotonin and a popular anti-depressant affect the gut’s microbiota. (2021). Retrieved 12 March 2021, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190906092809.htm
- Information, H., Diseases, D., Works, Y., & Works, Y. (2021). Your Digestive System & How it Works | NIDDK. Retrieved 10 March 2021, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works