IBS

What To Eat For A Healthy Gut - How To Properly Nourish Your Gut

BY ANSGAR

calendar_today   FEB 07, 2024
What to eat for a healthy gut

It is the largest internal organ in humans and influences everything. What happens along the seven meters a human intestine can measure is crucial for health and emotional well-being.

The condition of the gut determines whether one stays healthy into old age or becomes ill early. This is significantly related to the so-called microbiome, the bacteria in the gut. 


The microbiome can be compared to a rainforest – what's crucial is the diversity of species, as each type of bacteria performs very specific functions. 

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"What happens along the seven meters a human intestine can measure, is crucial for health and emotional well-being"

The diversity of gut bacteria is essential for digestion

Gut bacteria ferment fibers and proteins, producing vitamins, short-chain fatty acids, and other nutrients. The quality and quantity of gut bacteria depend heavily on what they are fed. Consuming a lot of sugar and other empty carbohydrates without fiber, such as white rice or white flour products, increases the bad gut bacteria. 


These should not be allowed to proliferate because they release toxins (called lipopolysaccharides) during digestion that lead to inflammation and displace health-promoting gut bacteria.


Good gut bacteria primarily include those that ferment dietary fibers. The more diverse one's diet, especially in terms of fiber-rich foods like whole grains, vegetables, and acidic fruits, the more diverse the gut microbiome becomes.


Additionally, enzymes, which break down food particles to release nutrients, are crucial for the gut's function. Unlike bacteria, fungi, or viruses, enzymes are made up of amino acids. They are produced in the intestinal mucosa and especially in the pancreas. Consuming plenty of vegetables and local acidic fruits supports the health of the pancreas. 


Moreover, the pancreas needs sufficient water and zinc to produce digestive enzymes, so it's wise to have a blood test for possible zinc deficiency if experiencing constant digestive issues. The pancreas works better during the day than in the evening, which is why heavy meals in the evening can be burdensome.

If the intestinal mucosa is damaged, dangerous bacteria can penetrate

The inside of the intestine is coated with a thin layer of mucus, which prevents harmful substances from entering the body. This mucus is produced by specialized cells known as goblet cells located in the intestinal mucosa. 


When the intestinal mucosa becomes thin, inflammation occurs. However, there are bacteria that specifically build up intestinal mucus. Studies have shown they are often almost completely absent in people with chronic intestinal inflammation. The proliferation of these mucus-promoting bacteria is encouraged by foods such as blueberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, and walnuts and pecans.


Approximately 20% of people in the US and Europe suffer from heartburn or reflux, and many take antacids. Caution is advised because antacids act on the so-called parietal cells in the stomach that produce stomach acid. When inhibited, the pH level in the stomach rises from normally 1.5 - 3.5 to over 5, leading to further problems. 


Stomach acid is meant to kill harmful bacteria. If it can no longer do this, harmful bacteria proliferate. Moreover, bacteria that belong in the large intestine can settle in the stomach. Furthermore, stomach acid is necessary for the pre-digestion of proteins. 


If it fails to break them down, large protein particles enter the intestine, overwhelming the enzymes. These enzymes also require a certain level of acidity to function optimally.

The gut's function

The gut's functions include nutrient absorption, which is crucial for every single cell in our body. The gut must not only filter nutrients from food but also fend off toxins, allergens, and dangerous microorganisms like pathogens to prevent them from entering the body. A healthy gut can do this. 


However, if it's unhealthy, foreign substances enter the body and engage the immune system, leading to chronic inflammatory reactions that weaken the body and cause long-term illness.


Antibiotics and painkillers harm gut bacteria and, by extension, the enzymes that break down food, affecting the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Therefore, in addition to medication, taking live gut bacteria is recommended. Experts specifically suggests supplements containing the medicinal yeast Saccharomyces boulardii.


Cook for yourself and avoid processed foods. These contain many substances that harm gut bacteria. For instance, preservatives and artificial sweeteners kill important gut bacteria.

This article provides general information on the respective health topic and is not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment, or medication. It does not replace a visit to the doctor. 

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