What is gut health?
Gut health refers to the overall function and balance of bacteria and microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. Gut health is defined as the gut microbiota, gut flora or gut microbiome that consists of trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi and other microbes, which live in the digestive tract – the esophagus, stomach and intestines. The microbiome has the largest number of bacteria and greatest number of species than in any other part of the body.
The microbiome is established within a couple of years after birth. The intestinal barrier and epithelium mucosa barrier has developed and provides a barrier to pathogens. Each of us has a unique gut microbiome which influences our overall health. Changes to diet, environment and exposure to pathogens like parasites, environmental toxins and heavy metals causes the composition of the microbiome to change over time. Reduced diversity and quantity in the gut flora can be seen in people with conditions such as IBS or SIBO.
Why is gut health important?
Everything we eat is ultimately broken down into nutrients which are then absorbed and used throughout the body. This only happens if your microbiome is healthy. About 70% of the immune system is found in the gut, so a healthy gut will ward off pathogens, viruses and bacteria that could make you ill or cause your immune system to go haywire (ie autoimmune disorders). The gut is also connected to the brain through nerves and hormones. Up to 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, feelings of well-being and happiness, learning, cognition and plays a role in appetite and digestion. Your microbiome plays an integral part within the whole body. So if your gut health isn’t optimal, you won’t be feeling on your top game.
Health conditions associated with the gut microbiome:
- Asthma/ allergies
- Autoimmune disorders
- Brain fog / cognition issues
- Depression and Anxiety
- Environmental toxins incl glyphosate
- Heavy metals
- IBS / SIBO / IBD
- Parasite infections
How can I restore my gut health?
There is a lot of information flying around about gut health. Try probiotics, try prebiotics, eat less often, eat more often, try this supplement. Through a lot of internet research and trial and error, you may find the golden nugget that does, indeed, transform your gut health. On the other hand, you may not. Gut health can be complicated. Knowing what’s living in your digestion (bacteria, fungi, parasites) and then addressing that through nutrition, nutraceuticals and herbals is often the most effective and efficient way to a healthier microbiome (and more energy, and better sleep, and clearer skin, and so on).
Often we’re told that gut problems like IBS, diarrhea or constipation can be changed by doing more exercise and adding more fibre (think lentils, beans, vegetables and fruit) to your diet, but this advice could in fact make your problems worse. For example, parasites love to feed off the sugar in the food you eat, they’ll happily make you crave more sugar so they can proliferate. If parasites are your problem (and they’re much more common than people realise), eating more lentils and fruit will only make your gut problems worse, not better.
I have health condition ‘X’, now what?
If you’ve received a diagnosis from your medical doctor, such as one of the health conditions listed above, know that it is possible to improve (and dare I say transform) your health through diet and lifestyle medicine. Your body wants to be healthy, it’s meant to be in balance, but there are things (microbes, toxins) that are pulling your body out of homeostasis. As a Registered Nutritionist, we work together 1-on-1 to identify and remove the bad stuff and put the good stuff back in, bringing your body back to health and vitality.
The connection between mould toxicity and gut health
Mould toxicity can cause a number of health issues – from immune dysfunction, chronic inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, asthma, allergies to brain fog and cognition problems, neurological symptoms, extreme fatigue and poor sleep. Individuals with mould illness often experience digestive problems such as weight loss through malnutrition, IBS or SIBO. Further, toxic mould suppresses the immune system, over 70% of which resides in the gut, allowing opportunistic infections (viral, bacteria or parasitic) to then take hold in the body. Managing SIBO or IBS is one thing, but unless you get to the root cause of this, which could be mould exposure, parasites or something entirely different, the SIBO/IBS will come back.
If you’re struggling with your gut health and more, I urge you to read up on mould toxicity. It’s more common than you think. Through appropriate nutrition testing and specific protocols, it is possible to get well again.
Find out more on how to restore gut health and environmental toxins and get in touch here with any queries. Sign up to my newsletter for tips on a healthy lifestyle and be the first to know about my upcoming masterclasses and online courses. Follow me on instagram for tips to minimise environmental toxins in your environment!