The GIT (gastrointestinal tract) spanning from the mouth to the colon is one of the most important organs of the body. Here are a few reasons why; 80% of the immune system lies within the GIT, therefore an unhealthy GIT can have a huge impact on the immune system, how often one gets sick and even autoimmune disease development. There are millions of neurons in the GIT, this is known as the enteric nervous system. A GIT-brain axis exists that is a bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system which links emotional and cognitive centres of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions. Recent advances in research are revealing a strong connection between poor GIT health and mood disorders. I am a firm believer that food can and will impact your mood. The GIT is where all essential nutrients, amino acids and minerals are absorbed, a damaged GIT cannot properly absorb nutrients resulting in nutrient and other dietary insufficiencies and deficiencies. Ways to support a healthy GIT;
• Reduce stress where possible, a constant state of stress hinders the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients optimally, exercise, meditation, reduce caffeine consumption and spend time with friends and family.
• Assist the production of stomach acid (HCl) by chewing food properly, limiting processed carbohydrates, ensuring adequate zinc stores (with a health professional) and include fermented foods in the diet such as yoghurt or kimchi. Insufficient HCl reduces our first line of defence against pathogens thus potentially leading to a number of digestive issues.
• Eat whole foods and a variety of, fruits, vegetables, quality protein such as lean meat and eggs, quality fats such as avocados, nuts, olive oil and salmon. Stay hydrated, always. Include prebiotic foods and fibre to feed and support the healthy bacteria, examples of these are; onions, garlic, leek, cold potatoes, kiwifruit and apples. A varied diet consisting of whole foods as above supports a healthy and diverse microbiome.
• Sleep well, poor quality sleep influences hormones involved in regulating hunger and food intake.
• Address any issues with a health professional, if you have any digestive symptoms please seek professional help and don’t try to fix it yourself with probiotics or ‘special’ diets, you can do more harm than good. Check for allergies such as coeliac disease which can damage the lining of the intestines and cause further problems. It is so important to get to the root of the problem, you are worth it.