What is the gut?
The gut, a long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus is responsible for transporting your food from A to B, absorbing what its needs on the way. It is part of a hugely complex digestive system aided by other organs and there is so much we still do not know about how it works.
What is gut health?
It is actually very difficult to say what gut health is, but a healthy gut is probably one which moves at a steady rate, lacks inflammation, ulcerations, fissures and diseases. When we talk about gut health we have to distinguish between fact and fiction as there are plenty of theories out there and some practitioners relate any health problem to bad gut health, without having a doctor assess the problem first. In contrast, what a doctor may label as a sign of bad gut health (e.g. ulcers, poor motility or stool samples which have an imbalance of enzymes, bacteria, yeast or viruses) is different to what a patient feels are signs of poor gut health, e.g. pain from trapped wind or occasional diarrhoea.
If you ask most health professionals ‘What does gut health mean?’ One topic will immediately spring to mind and that is of course the ‘gut flora’ or ‘microbiota’. It’s actually all the bacteria, viruses, archaea and eukaryotes living in the gut. We usually think of these tiny things as something harmful and nasty and, as a result, diligently wash our hands after toilet visits and spray our work surfaces with antibacterial cleaners. These ‘bugs’ have a bad name for good reason as in huge numbers they can be the cause of serious diseases such as pneumonia and food poisoning. Not all bacteria are ‘bad’ and we live in a close relationship with a whole host of ‘good/friendly’ bacteria that are on us, and inside us – and in fact are essential if we are to stay in good health.
The microbiota is now being called the ‘forgotten organ’ and appears to influence a wide range of conditions. The food we eat changes our microbiota and this can then tie in with problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Interest is also growing into how the gut flora interacts with the brain function (called the gut-brain axis), and how this can affect mood and conditions such as Alzheimer’s and depression. What isn’t overly clear is whether the disease always causes the change to the gut microbiota or the other way around. It is likely that inflammation in the gut can change the microbiota and microbiota can also cause inflammation.
What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?
This article is entitled ‘The Signs of an Unhealthy Gut’, but actually the ‘signs’ are not always obvious. For example, you may have a problem in one area of the gut without any signs at all, and the rest of the gut may be functioning normally with a varied microbiota.
On the flip-side, you may have constipation, diarrhoea, bleeding, acid reflux or bloating bothering you, which can be signs of serious problems, and these need investigating by a doctor if they persist. It is safer to say you have poor gut health if you have been diagnosed with a condition or disease within your gut.
If you have infrequent problems with gut function, that is normal. Gut movements are affected by food, stress, medication, hydration, caffeine, alcohol and activity. It is normal to pass several stools a day or have lots of wind if your diet is plant based. It is also normal to get acid reflux when you eat fatty large meals too late and then lay down. The body can only compensate so much for poor lifestyle choices.
Treat your gut well, and it will treat you well in return!
There are so many available methods to help yourself – diets, medications, probiotics and other food supplements!
Altruvita’s Happy Tum works to help support a sensitive tum. Formulated by our expert team, it does this with a blend of three specially selected ingredients:
- Green Tea – Assists healthy gut flora**
- Vitamin D3 – Supports normal immune function*
- Curcumin (CurcuWIN®) – Anti-inflammatory** and aids digestive comfort**