If you’ve got tummy troubles, reading something about getting your gut right is a no-brainer. But what if you don't? Well done for taking a gamble with your time on reading this. Your future self will thank you for it.
It might be hard to believe but the state of your gut affects EVERY aspect of your health, from weight loss and immunity to mood and skin health. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you need to know this, too, to safeguard your baby’s future.
You don’t need to have any science to get through this but I do want to explain one teensy thing.
One of the main things I’m going to be talking about is something called dysbiosis, which is where the levels of bacterial in the gut are out of balance. That might mean there are too many ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut or simply insufficient numbers of the protective, ‘good’ bacteria. Got it? Here goes…
1. If you have any conditions linked to too much oestrogen, like endometriosis or fibroids, you should know that if you have dysbiosis, instead of the body getting rid of it, it is likely to keep recirculating oestrogen tagged for detoxification. I shan’t bore you with the science of why (it has something to do with beta glucuronidase, if you’re interested) – just trust me on this one. Bad gut situation? More oestrogen and worse symptoms. Think this isn’t relevant if you don't have endo or fibroids? Think again. Oestrogen is an obesogen. That’s code for too much oestrogen makes you fat. Fact. So you’ll want to make sure your gut is in good shape so you can get rid of it.
I’m just going to put it out there that, if there is any hormone imbalance of any kind, the gut is a key piece of the jigsaw if you are looking for a solution. I mean pretty much everything, but let’s be clear that, if your gut is not good, menopause symptoms will be evil.
2. On top of the whole oestrogen situation, you will absorb 15% more calories from your food if you have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.
3. There’s also a growing amount of research that suggests your gut bacteria actually influences food cravings and metabolism, too.
4. Listen up if you’re that person who is always ill or gets everything worse than everyone else… About 75% of your immunity is governed by your gut. If your digestive system is healthy, chances are you will be generally healthier, too.
5. Not happy with your skin? Eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne are just a few skin issues linked to poor gut health. Much of this is down to permability of the gut (sometimes called ‘leaky gut’), where your digestive tract is damaged and things that shouldn’t normally pass through are now able to, like bad bacteria, gluten proteins and other undigested food particles, causing widespread inflammation and a truck load of heath problems.
6. This is true for hayfever and food intolerance, too, for very similar reasons.
7. The state of your digestive system is important for regulating your mood and for your mental health. The gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’. That’s because, embedded in your intestinal wall are 500 million neurons that make up your enteric nervous system (ENS). Your ENS plays an important role in the production of 30 different neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, are chemicals responsible for regulating mood. At the very extreme end of the spectrum, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut has also been shown to be factor in autism, ADHD and other brain conditions like epilepsy.
8. If you have any kind of autoimmune disease you will want to get your gut sorted out because, as my doctor so tactfully told me “once you have one autoimmune condition, the door is open to all of the others”. So that’s not worrying then. There are over 200 autoimmune conditions but some of the most common include Hashimoto’s disease (underactive thyroid), rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus, pernicious anemia, and so on. There are a number of potential causes of autoimmune disease, but "leaky gut” or intestinal permeability is considered a front runner.
9. Bad breath – typically linked to dysbiosis (remember, that’s that imbalance of gut bacteria again) or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Athlete’s foot or thrush are linked to candida, an evil yeast in the gut. And, while I’m at it, candida has a giant list of other possible symptoms, including mysterious aches and pains, that feeling of being hungover when you’re not, depression, fatigue, anxiety and brain fog as well as a host of tummy issues.
10. If you have babymaking on your mind, you need to know that the little person you grow will get your gut immunity. If you have a healthy and balanced gut environment, then they will too.
As the mother, you are the gate-keeper to your child’s health. That’s because, in pregnancy, you set your baby’s inflammatory set point. If your gut flora is out of balance, there’s a 15% increased risk of gestational diabetes and also a higher risk for group B strep. Scary fact coming up: for the first time in history, our children’s life expectancy is shorter than our own.
I wonder how many of those points resonated with you. Help is at hand if any of these are the case. Maybe you already know that I offer 1:1 nutritional therapy sessions where we can work together on sorting out any of the above but – and here’s the newsflash – I am just putting the finishing touches to a brand new online course on digestive health. It’s going to be available in the next two weeks at an amazingly brilliant price of £29.
I just want to leave you with one final thought now you know what you know about how gut affects everything in the whole world… If you’re in the cinema and you see smoke, you don’t wait till you spot the fire...