Gut check

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young woman who makes a heart shape by hands on her stomach.

Deepika Rathod

Understanding the detoxification of your entire body and gut is of utmost importance. Immunity and disease both originate in the gut; so, if you keep your gut clean and functioning, you have the power to eliminate and heal most diseases.

The gut is quite literally the body’s second brain as it originates from the same type of tissue as the brain! During fetal development, one part turns into the central nervous system while the other develops into the enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from the brain stem down to the abdomen. Hence, the gut and brain work in tandem, each influencing the other. This is why one’s intestinal health can have such a profound influence on one’s mental health, and vice versa. If the amount of bad bacteria or fungus surpasses the good bacteria in the gut, even the healthy food we eat will not be assimilated in the right way. And even if we choose to eat clean, organic, or expensive foods, it won’t matter if our gut microflora is out of balance.

That’s where probiotics come in.

Probiotics are the live good bacteria present in certain fermented foods. They perform several functions that contribute to good health and immunity.

Their most basic function is to fight harmful foreign substances that enter the body and ease their elimination from the body. Probiotics can also help us prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. Probiotics not only help in improving gut health but they can even lower our serum cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing the activity of an enzyme involved in the synthesis of cholesterol. Good bacteria also acts as a competitor for bad bacteria (competing for food and space) which helps keep their number low.

Sometimes taking antibiotics can trigger diarrhoea because these strong medicines can kill good bacteria while they target the bad. Probiotics can help prevent this type of diarrhoea in both adults and children. People on antibiotics must take probiotics to combat gastrointestinal side effects of the medication.

Our gut has trillions of healthy bacteria which works to maintain normal gastrointestinal functioning, protect our body from infection causing bad bacteria, regulate metabolism and the immune system. In fact, they comprise more than 75 per cent of the immune system. Probiotics also keeps the GI barriers intact which in turn maintains gut health, while a problem with its microbiota composition can affect the body’s defense systems and cause a condition known as leaky gut syndrome.

Our diet is the most important element when it comes to building gut health. We need to make sure our diet contains natural probiotics or one can go for a sugarless probiotic supplement.

Here are some top natural probiotic rich foods: A2 curd, coconut curd, almond milk curd, rice kanji, spirulina, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, chlorella, kombucha, etc.

What are prebiotics?

Apart from probiotics, maintaining optimal gut health also requires prebiotics. A prebiotic is a plant fibre (oligosaccharides) that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria in the gut. While probiotics add good bacteria into our digestive system, prebiotics act as a fertiliser for the good bacteria that’s already there. Prebiotics help our good bacteria to grow by improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio. This ratio has been shown to have a direct correlation to our health and overall well-being, from our stomach to the brain.

Prebiotic fibre is found in many fruits and vegetables such as in the skin of apples (2 grams), bananas (3 grams), pineapple, onions (1.7 grams) and garlic, beans, asparagus, gluten-free oats, groats (3 grams), flaxseeds (4-5 grams of fibre in a tablespoon of flaxseeds), barley, wheat and oats bran, apple cider vinegar with mother, etc. It sounds easy to get enough prebiotic fibre, right? But we need to make a conscious effort to increase our fibre intake or supplement it (a pro-plus-prebiotic composition)

Maintaining your gut health will keep your immunity strong. It is all about immunity when it comes to prevention and healing of all diseases.