Probiotics

Gut Health 101: Everything you need to know about a healthy gut

As some of you may have read on instagram, I have been having mysterious stomach problems for the past year and a half. After so much trial + error of cutting out certain foods, testing specific diets, and seeing no results, I finally went back to my doctor.

This is where I first learned about our gut health, the good + bad bacteria we all have, and how that might be the cause of my stomach issues. My doctor told me to start taking a pro- and prebiotic, and fiber.

This news sparked my interest. I never realized how much of an impact our gut has on our overall health + wellbeing.

So I started doing loads of research on gut health and all of the negative implications of having too much bad bacteria in your gut can have on our bodies, mood + energy levels.

Now I’m going to break it down for you, as simply as I can, what I learned about our gut.

Gut Health 101

Our “gut” consists of everything from our stomach + intestines to our colon — basically everything that helps us with digestion.

Inside of our gut we all have good and bad bacteria. Our gut and these bacteria receive information about our environment through the foods we eat. So our nutrients + food consumption help us regulate hormone production, balance mood + energy levels, and control our gene expression.

Have you ever heard that our gut is our second brain? Well that’s because it is. It sends signals to our glands and our brain about the world we are living in. In fact, 95% of our serotonin is produced in our gut! What?! (I would site this but I learned it at a yoga + gut health workshop so I’m not sure how, but look it up).   

Photo by Alexander Mils

Photo by Alexander Mils

If we are eating nutrient poor foods, processed foods, foods high in sugar, we are killing the good bacteria our gut, allowing the bad bacteria to flourish, and telling our bodies that we are living in an unhealthy environment.

These “bad” bacteria that begin to takeover can mess with our hormone production + mood especially. So you might see a lot of anxiety, depression, skin issues + inflammation problems on top of stomach issues.

How we can make sure we are eating a gut healthy diet?

Simply, just eat whole, real foods. This will help give your body the nourishment it needs without benefitting the bad bacteria.

Second, we can consume more pro- and prebiotic foods.

Okay, back up. What are pro and prebiotic's?

Probiotics

Probiotics are substances that allow for the growth of microorganisms (bacteria). We can consume probiotic foods that contain high amounts of the good bacteria our bodies need. We find these good bacterias in fermented foods, such as:

  • Yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Kimchi

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kombucha

When we eat these fermented foods, we start to feed our bodies with good bacteria and begin to heal our gut. Each of these probiotic foods contain different bacterias, so eating a variety of them helps us get a full spectrum of good bacteria.

Prebiotic's

Prebiotic's are sort of like fertilizer. They are very fibrous foods that feed the probiotics. So we can keep adding in good bacteria, but if we don’t create an environment in which they thrive, the good bacteria will die off. Adding prebiotic's to your diet help create that healthy environment for the good bacteria to grow + thrive.

Good sources of prebiotic fiber:

  • Steel Cut Oats

  • Green Vegetables

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Banana

  • Apple

  • Jicama

  • Legumes

What about taking a pro and prebiotic pill?

It is important to note that pro and prebiotics can be taken through a pill. However, it is more bioavailable when consumed through food (easier to digest, so we get more nutrients). Also, when we consume pre and probiotics through food, we get a larger variety.

However, if you are travelling or just starting this gut health journey, a pre and probiotic pill can be a great place to start.

Once we begin to heal our guts and create a flourishing environment within our bodies, we will see a lot of improvements in our health + well being outside of just the stomach. Some of the benefits of having a healthier gut are improved mood, better sleep, more energy, clearer skin, less brain fog, and the list goes.