Why is gut health important?
Until you experience gut issues you don't realise quite how important it is - because the effects are accentuated when you're at the extreme of poor gut health.
My job in this idea is to ensure that you don't wait until you're in this place, instead taking preventative action.
Gut health is about so much more than how your stomach feels, or how you go to the toilet...
From when food enters your mouth to when it exits, this full system within your body is known as the gut.
And from my experience, coaching over 600 individuals from over 50 countries around the world, there are two key things you need to think about:
1. The balance of bacteria in your gut - with an imbalance being the most common cause of gut issues.
2. The integrity of the lining of your gut - which is where 70-80% of your immune system lies. When this gut lining becomes damaged, things start to seep through that shouldn't be there - which results in inflammation and an immune response.
Bloating is simply a result of undigested or fermented foods in your gut being fed on by bacteria which produce gas. Making these the three factors that affect it: the balance of bacteria (what's there to feed), how quickly/slowly food passes (gut motility, so how long the bacteria have to feed on it), and how well broken down the food arrives (how you chew the food, how well it breaks down in your stomach, etc.).
Your gut is also termed the "second brain", with the vagus nerve connecting it to your first brain, branching into every major organ in your body along the way - collecting information about these organs and telling the body how to react.
Quite simply, poor gut health can lead to anxiety-depressive behaviours, and a poor mental state can impair your gut health. What happens upstairs affects downstairs, and vice versa. [Research shows - this is also why IBS was previously thought to be psychosomatic (caused by psychological issues)]
The function of your vagus nerve (what's called vagal tone) can also decrease due to poor gut health.
To build a picture of why this is important; our body also has two modes it likes to be in. Fight or flight mode (controlled by the SNS) and rest and digest (controlled by the PNS).
The vagus nerve makes up 75% of the PNS, meaning is plays a key role in winding us down into rest and digest mode which is where your body regulates it's immune system, decreases inflammation, and balances it's hormones. This is also where optimal digestion, sleep and recovery happens.
A positive vagus nerve can also increase blood sugar regulation, reduced risk of stroke/cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, improve digestion, boost your mood, reduce anxiety, and increase stress resilience.
All impaired by poor gut health.
The gut and the ecosystem within it also produce a large portion of the neurotransmitters in your body, including serotonin (how happy you feel) and GABA (fear and anxiety).
All-in-all... This is why when I had IBS I was depressed, on edge (always in fight or flight - jumping out of my skin if someone opened a door near me), and an emotional wreck. Aside from a broad range of issues including brain fog, skin issues, an inability to articulate myself, nutrient deficiencies, and more - without even mentioning what directly happened in my stomach area.
This is why gut health is so important.