The Gut

Shaun Waso

Understanding the importance of gut health.

Current medical thinking is emphasising the importance of the gut (intestines). There are links between digestion, mood, and health. The majority of people who are overweight and insulin-resistant, also have poor gut health.
The gut is a place of complex interaction between nerve signals, hormones, and the microbiota. Upset it and the consequences can be disastrous.

Small Intestines

The small intestine handles around 95 % of the digestion and absorption of the food we eat. The intestines consist of internal folds. It is layered with minuscule protrusions to maximise its surface area. Increasing availability for absorption and digestion.
The total surface area of the gut is anywhere from the size of a badminton court to the size of a tennis court! Exposed to both the nutritious and harmful things we consume, is this surface area.

Gut Flora

Key to the effective and healthy functioning of the small intestine is the symbiotic relationship it enjoys with our gut flora. The gut flora lines the intestinal wall. By the trillions, they form a vital living interface between the digesting food on the inside and the intestinal wall on the outside. Gut flora also manufactures vitamins B and K and act as an organ of the body. Gut flora releases hormones into the bloodstream.

Hormones interact with the brain and signal the body to change its behaviour responding to changes in its environment. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation and bloating are now thought to affect our mood. Major emotional shifts and even anxiety and depression can, in turn, affect the gut.
Our gut flora also plays an important hand in managing the body’s metabolism. It forms part of the body’s immune system by making antigens from harmful bacteria that the immune system can use to ward off disease.

How do I support my gut?

Regardless of what diet you eat, it is critical that it should take into account the healthy development and maintenance of your gut flora. A fluctuating diet, the excessive use of antibiotics or the infestation of harmful bacteria, can compromise this vital organ. Rebuilding and supporting the gut flora should be regarded as a foundational step to metabolic health and is, thus, a vital part of any diet.

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