- June 15, 2015
Take a guess how many microorganisms are living in your gut right now. Hint: it’s a really, really big number. Okay, do you have a number in mind? Well, if you guessed 100 trillion, then you’re right! That’s a one with 14 zeroes. Intestinal microbiota, or gut flora, promote normal gastrointestinal function, protect the body from infection and regulate metabolism and the mucosal immune system. In fact, 75 percent of your immune system resides in your gut. Therefore, if you want to maintain your overall health, then it behooves you to take good care of your gut health.
Some of the physical and mental health conditions that have been linked to imbalances in gut flora include:
- More than 33 percent of people with depression have a “leaky gut,” or a gut lining that is permeable and allows bacterium to leak into the bloodstream.
- Parkinson’s disease. People with this disease have different gut bacteria than healthy people.
- Obesity and diabetes. Studies show that an imbalance in the gut is linked to obesity and obesity-related health problems.
- Colon cancer. Diets that are high in carbohydrates may contribute to the presence of and the rise in colon cancer.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Low levels of certain good gut bacteria and high levels of bad bacteria may be linked to this autoimmune joint disease.
Go with Your Gut
Everyone has said, “I just had a gut feeling.” Although that expression refers to human intuition, it can also speak to digestion. The importance of a good gut feeling cannot be overstated when it comes to the digestive system, which is a pathway that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. This entire pathway is responsible for breaking down the foods we eat and extracting the nutrients our bodies need and eliminating waste. Problems arise because of poor food choices, viruses, parasites, caffeine, alcohol, antibiotics, NSAIDs and bad bacteria.
Yes, your gut is susceptible to attack. However, there are foods you can eat and steps you can take to ensure your gastrointestinal health and in turn your overall health. First, try taking a probiotic supplement and eat more probiotic foods to increase the good bacteria in your gut and keep the bad bacteria under control. Plant-based probiotic-rich foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, microalgae and kefir.
Eat prebiotic whole foods, too. These fuel the growth of good gut bacteria that support your overall health. Raw onions, dandelion greens, artichokes and bananas are some of the best prebiotic foods.
Eat regularly and healthy, but be sure to give your digestive system a rest. Snacking constantly slows digestion and contributes to bacterial overgrowth. And stay hydrated, too. Your gut needs water to keep the bacteria and waste moving through your system.
Reduce the amount of refined sugar and processed foods that you eat. Bad bacteria feed on these. And try to reduce the stress in your life, as well, which can also contribute to a poorly functioning gut.
Now that you know the connection between your gut and your overall health, eating for your health seems more appetizing than ever. Dr. DiGiallorenzo and his staff want to become your partners in your ongoing journey toward a healthier, more fulfilling life. If there is any way we can help you, please give us a call. Our Williamsport, PA, and Collegeville, PA, locations proudly serve communities in Sunbury, Pottstown, Lock Haven, Bloomberg, and beyond.