Gut Health

What is gut health?

We now know that our gut health has an impact on how we function, our resistance to diseases and our mental health. The gut is not just a digestive system but serves as the body’s first line of defense against chronic illness and disease.

A thriving gut resembles a flourishing garden, where a diverse and harmonious community of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms collectively known as the gut microbiome or the microbiota, collaborate seamlessly, called the “second brain”. This mass of living organisms not only ensures the smooth digestion of food but has a profound influence over how our bodies function including:

Immune SystemAutoimmune Conditions
Digestive FunctionJoint Health
Mood and Mental HealthRespiratory Health
Weight ManagementBone Health
Inflammation LevelsCancer Risk
Nutrient AbsorptionVitamin Production
Energy LevelsAging Process
Skin HealthBehavioral Disorders in Children
Allergies and SensitivitiesAutoimmune Conditions
Sleep QualityMetabolic Health
Heart HealthInfluence on Medication
Hormone RegulationSatiety and Appetite
DetoxificationResponse to Stress
Brain FunctionAthletic Performance
Blood Sugar RegulationLong-Term Health
Body Functions related to Gut Health

Why is Gut Health important?

Our gut health is important because scientific research has unveiled a profound connection between gut health and overall well-being, highlighting the pivotal role the gut plays in maintaining our health. Research suggests that imbalances in the gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, may contribute to the development of a wide array of health issues, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to systemic conditions such as autoimmune diseases, allergies, and even neurological disorders like depression and anxiety.

The gut microbiome interacts with all other systems in the body, including the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems, underscoring the far-reaching impact on overall health and disease prevention. As our understanding deepens, it becomes increasingly evident that nurturing a healthy gut ecosystem through balanced nutrition, probiotics, and lifestyle habits is not merely beneficial but essential for promoting long-term health and vitality.

We delve into the profound benefits of gut health and dissect the impact on issues such as disease and mental well-being. As we unfold the big picture, we will explore key questions like “What is the gut microbiome?” ,”How do I improve gut health?” and “What is leaky gut?”.

Our aim is to unravel the complexities of the gut microbiome, empowering you to take charge of your health and become your own advocate for a vibrant life.

“All disease starts in the GUT”


What are common signs of an unhealthy gut?

There are many symptoms that can be caused by an unhealthy gut and we will explore more of these in the Disease section of the blog. Here is a list of the more common conditions that can be related to an unhealthy gut:

  • Digestive issues: Frequent bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or acid reflux.
  • Skin problems: Eczema, acne, rosacea, or other inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Food intolerances or allergies: Difficulty digesting certain foods, leading to symptoms like bloating, gas, or fatigue.
  • Fatigue and low energy: Unexplained tiredness or difficulty concentrating.
  • Mood swings or anxiety: Feeling irritable, depressed, or anxious more often than usual.
  • Weakened immune system: Getting sick more frequently or taking longer to recover from illnesses.

How does diet impact gut health?

Dietary choices significantly shape the diversity of the gut microbiome. A diet rich in diverse, plant-based foods provides an array of nutrients that nourish both the body and the microbial inhabitants of the gut.

You have to ask yourself, why has this symbiotic relationship evolved over millions of years? Why would we be walking around playing host to these microbes? Nature recruited the gut bacteria and outsourced a lot of our physiology to our bacteria. So now we have a bacterial family that all need feeding and this is why diet is so important.

There are approximately 100 trillion microorganisms in our gut compared to our 27 trillion human cells. (1)

Gut Fact 37 trillion Human Cells
Compared to 100 Trillion Microorganisms

(1) Citation: Sender R, Fuchs S, Milo R (2016) Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. PLoS Biol 14(8): e1002533. – Published: August 19, 2016

What foods are good for gut health?

The best foods for gut health are plant foods and any foods that are fresh and whole. This will ensure an adequate supply of fiber, a particularly important fuel source for beneficial bacteria, promoting their growth and activity. It is also important to include fermented foods which provide prebiotics, probiotics and post biotics. The average Western diet, high in processed foods and low in fiber, is having a huge impact on the diversity of the microbiome and thus linked to various health issues.

What is the importance of fiber in our diet?

Not only does fiber provide food for the microbiome it also helps you to feel full when eating and improves the flow of waste through the digestive system. This helps reduce issues with constipation. If we don’t eat fiber, we effectively starve the gut bacteria and as a result they start to eat into their environment to survive – The Mucin layer. This layer is a key component of the mucosal barrier that lines the inner surface of the intestines, helping to prevent the invasion of bacteria and toxins while facilitating nutrient absorption. So not only are you depriving yourself of the right diversity of bacteria you are also at risk of degrading the protective barrier and allowing toxins into the body.

Gut Health Glossary of Terms

Gut MicrobiomeThe collection of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, residing in the digestive tract.
ProbioticsLive microorganisms, often beneficial bacteria, that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Found in fermented foods and supplements.
PrebioticsNon-digestible fibers that serve as food for beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting their growth and activity.
PostbioticsMetabolic by-products of microbial fermentation, including short-chain fatty acids and other bioactive compounds, that contribute to gut health.
FermentationA metabolic process wherein microorganisms convert sugars and starches into alcohol, organic acids, or gases. Commonly used in the production of fermented foods.
DysbiosisImbalance or disruption of the normal microbial community in the gut, potentially leading to health issues.
Leaky Gut SyndromeIncreased intestinal permeability, allowing substances to pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, potentially triggering an immune response.
Digestive EnzymesProteins that facilitate the breakdown of food into smaller, absorbable components during digestion.
MicrobiotaThe total community of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, in a specific environment, such as the gut.
Gastrointestinal (GI) TractThe pathway through which food travels, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines, where digestion and absorption occur.
Gut-Brain AxisBidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, influencing both digestive and cognitive functions.
PeristalsisThe rhythmic contractions of muscles in the GI tract that propel food through the digestive system.
Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)Organic acids produced by the fermentation of dietary fibers in the colon, contributing to gut health.
Glossary of Terms Gut Health

FAQ’s Gut Health

What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?

There are common signs but some a more subtle and it varies greatly from person to person.

Digestive issues: Frequent bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or acid reflux.
Skin problems: Eczema, acne, rosacea, or other inflammatory skin conditions.
Food intolerances or allergies: Difficulty digesting certain foods, leading to symptoms like bloating, gas, or fatigue.
Fatigue and low energy: Unexplained tiredness or difficulty concentrating.
Mood swings or anxiety: Feeling irritable, depressed, or anxious more often than usual.
Weakened immune system: Getting sick more frequently or taking longer to recover from illnesses.
Some common signs of gut issues.

How can I improve my gut health naturally?

Eat a diverse range of fiber-rich foods: Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds into your diet. These foods provide prebiotic fibers that nourish beneficial gut bacteria.
Consume fermented foods: Include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso in your diet. These foods are rich in probiotics, which help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Limit processed foods and added sugars: Highly processed foods and those high in refined sugars can disrupt gut microbiota balance. Opt for whole, minimally processed foods whenever possible.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support digestion and maintain healthy bowel movements.
Manage stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or spending time in nature.
Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Poor sleep can disrupt gut microbiota and contribute to digestive issues.
Exercise regularly: Engage in regular physical activity, as it can promote gut motility and overall digestive health.
Limit alcohol and avoid smoking: Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can harm the gut microbiome and digestive system. Limit alcohol intake and quit smoking if you smoke.
Environment: Avoid using strong cleaning chemicals in your environment. This all contributes to the overall balance of your bodies flora and fauna.
Pointers to improving gut health

What foods are good for gut health?

Fiber-Rich Foods: Fruits like apples, bananas, berries, and oranges, as well as vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes, are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and provides fuel for beneficial gut bacteria.
Whole Grains: Whole grains such as oats, barley, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support gut health. They also help maintain stable blood sugar levels and promote satiety.
Fermented Foods: Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that support gut microbiota balance. These foods can help improve digestion and boost immune function.
Prebiotic-Rich Foods: Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that feed beneficial gut bacteria. Foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, and whole grains.
Probiotic-Rich Foods: Probiotic foods contain live beneficial bacteria that can colonize the gut and improve microbial diversity. Examples include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables, and unpasteurized pickles.
Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants, which support gut health and overall well-being.
Fatty Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit gut health by reducing inflammation.
Herbs and Spices: Certain herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, garlic, and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can support gut health and digestion.
Foods for gut health