The gut refers to the digestive or gastrointestinal tract of the human body which includes the intestines, stomach, food pipe and more, forming the entire human digestive system. This 9m long tract houses over 70% of our immune cells and that has a significant impact on our health and well-being. In fact, our gut has a microbiome of its own – a world of microorganisms and bacteria that play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and immunity. It is important to note that contrary to their name, we have a variety of bacteria, many of which are good for our health. It is these good bacteria that we want to keep alive and happy in our gut!
What does good gut health mean?
Good gut health signifies a healthy digestive system where processes such as digestion and nutrient absorption can occur smoothly. Often, we notice that it may not be optimal through the onset of gastric problems such as bloating, constipation, heartburn, or acid reflux. If such symptoms persist on a regular basis or conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) develop, it can have drastic impacts on health and quality of life and it becomes important to seek out the advice of a healthcare professional.
The benefits continue
The benefits of gut health and a healthy gut microbiome are not limited to optimizing digestive health. Maintaining good gut health is also linked to reduced risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers as well as autoimmune diseases. There also exists the gut-brain axis through which our gut and brain can communicate, and a robust and diverse gut microbiome can help prevent mental health-related conditions such as depression and anxiety.
There are many aspects to optimizing gut health such as our food choices, exercise routine, sleep habits, stress levels, and more. Rather than micromanaging or focusing on only one aspect, look at the overall lifestyle and habits as a whole to ensure that’s supportive of maintaining a happy and healthy gut.