Gut Health – Why is this important?

Article written by Hamish Newall – Owner and Personal Trainer

Microbiome is the makeup of bacteria and other microorganisms in the stomach and intestines, or informally the gut.
Research on microbiome is still some what new but studies have already found that certain environments, foods, and behaviours can influence gut health for better or worse. Here’s why that matters and what you can do to improve yours.

Why is Gut Health Important?

Everyone’s microbiome is unique, but there are a few generalities about what’s healthy and what’s not. In healthy people, there is a diverse array of organisms. Most of those organisms are bacteria, but there are viruses, fungi and other microbes as well. In an unhealthy individual, there’s much less diversity and there seems to be an increase of bacteria we associate with disease.

Some bacteria fight inflammation, while others promote it. When the gut works as it should, these bacteria’s keep each other in check. But when the delicate balance gets skewed, inflammatory bacteria can take over and they can produce metabolites that pass through the lining of the gut and into the bloodstream, spreading inflammation to other parts of the body.

Specific types of bacteria in the gut can lead to other conditions as well i.e. asthma and allergies and possibly more chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and some cancers.
How do we know if we are having problems with gut health?

When microbiome is thrown out of balance its often easy to tell. Bloating, gas, diarrhoea, stomach pain or nausea are all direct signs that something in the gut isn’t working right. Imbalances often fix themselves after a short time. But if they become chronic, they may require a medical diagnosis and treatment.
Maintaining gut health!

Health is key!

Follow a balanced diet, stay hydrated, exercise regularly and get a good night’s sleep. Smoking and excessive alcohol intake can also hurt the microbiome. Limited dairy, red and processed meats and refined sugars can also improve gut health, so can getting the right amount of fibre – 20 to 40 grams per day.
Your gut bacteria live off whatever’s left over in your colon after cells have digested all of the nutrients and amino acids. You want to feed them complex fibre not bad processed stuff.

Overall eating a wide variety of foods including fibre rich fruit, vegetables and whole grains is the best way to encourage a diverse and healthy microbiome.

Should I take probiotics?

Science is still out on the real-life benefits of probiotic pills and capsules. Probiotics contain live cultures but there’s no guarantee that what is in the bottle matches the label.
Instead of pills, getting beneficial bacteria from fermented food sources like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi all have other nutritional benefits as well.

With so much still unknown about the microbiome, the best advice is stick to the basics. The most important thing we can do is follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. If it’s good for you its probably good for your gut.

If you need any further advice on your gut health and nutrition, Bay City Gym’s in house nutritionist Becs Lowe would be happy to help.