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Get to grips with gut health: five tips for a fit and healthy summer

Cover Media logo Cover Media 06/05/2021
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Most of us don't realise that if you really want to feel and look your best, you should get to know your gut health.

The gut microorganisms are not just responsible for digestion - they also influence our general wellbeing. So, to help you look and feel fantastic as we head into summer, gut microbiome experts from biotech innovator BIOMES have shared how strengthening your gut health can improve your overall health.

A healthy gut keeps you... in shape:

Intestinal bacteria have a decisive influence on our weight - both positively and negatively. Particularly important is the "wunderkind" among microorganisms, the "Akkermansia" bacterium. As well as preventing weight gain and reducing total cholesterol in the blood, Akkermansia bacteria also boost metabolism. Eating cranberries, cloves or pomegranates helps to increase the quantity of these bacteria in the intestine to promote a healthy weight. The sugar-loving "Firmicutes" bacteria are ones to be wary of; the presence of too many of these in your gut causes cravings for sweets and fatty foods. One reason for their presence is excessive snacking. So, if you ever feel a snack craving coming on, listen to your gut and reach for cranberries instead of chocolate.

A healthy gut makes you... immune:

Gallery: 20 signs you're eating too much sugar (Espresso)

For a long time, people assumed the sole purpose of the intestine was digestion. Today we know that it is where 80 per cent of our immune system is located. Harmful bacteria and germs can enter the body through food, meaning that the intestine is a real defence centre. The intestinal mucosa contains numerous lymph follicles that can recognise and fight pathogens. The gut's own beneficial bacteria can also produce certain defensive substances such as lactic acid, which put an end to harmful invaders. However, if your diet is consistently unhealthy you risk weakening this sophisticated system because the good bacteria are not getting the energy that they need. The result: you get sick. To boost the good bacteria in your gut, we recommend eating foods such as sauerkraut, natural yoghurt, kefir, vegetables, and legumes.

A healthy gut makes you... happy:

When we experience emotions such as fear or worry, we often feel their physical impact in our stomachs. However, these feelings can also affect the intestines. The reason for this is that the intestines are in permanent exchange with the emotional centre of our brain via the gut-brain axis. This means that intestinal bacteria and the psyche influence each other. If our gut is doing well, it can absorb more nutrients from food and, as a result, it can let the brain know that we are doing well. Consequentially, we produce more happiness hormones which keep us in a good mood.

An unhealthy gut keeps you... awake:

The "sleep hormone" melatonin and the amino acid GABA influence our sleep-wake rhythm, and both are produced in the intestine as well as the brain. Studies have shown that an unfavourable imbalance in the intestine can contribute to a lower quality of sleep because melatonin and GABA are not being produced in the right quantity. To combat this, lactic acid and bifidiobacteria (obtainable in probiotic form) can ensure a balanced intestinal flora and thus help eradicate sleepless nights.

Dr. Paul Hammer, Systems Biologist and CEO of BIOMES, also recommends taking their gut health home-testing kit so you can "ascertain what is right for your own intestines". This will provide you with an analysis of your intestinal flora and advice on how to improve your gut health.

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