Gastro-Intestinal Health

Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates said ‘All disease begins in the gut’. Centuries later, science and research are increasingly uncovering the influence of the gut, and particularly the microbiota, on overall health.

What is the Gut?

The gut (gastrointestinal tract) is the long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the back passage (anus).

The process of digestion begins in the mouth where teeth and enzymes begin to break down food. Muscular contractions help to move food through the gastrointestinal tract on to the stomach.

Some foods and liquids are absorbed through the lining of the stomach, but most are absorbed in the small intestine. Muscles in the wall of the gut mix food with the enzymes produced by the body and move it along to the large intestine where most of the gut bacteria reside.

Food that can’t be digested, waste substances, germs and undigested food are all passed out as faeces.

 

Why is it so important?

As well as being responsible for over 80% of the body’s immune system, the gut contains its own nervous system, known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS communicates continuously with the central nervous system (CNS) in the brain meaning that changes in the gut impact upon the brain and vice versa.

The gut also contains trillions of bacteria that communicate directly with the ENS and are a major factor in digestive health. They affect the body’s vitamin and mineral production and absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, energy production, immune response and ability to protect against and eliminate toxins.

Gut diagram of the small intestine, stomach, colon and rectum

How does it impact health?

Many health issues have been linked to problems in the gut – ranging from digestive issues such as bloating, gas and diarrhoea, to food allergies or sensitivities, depression, anxiety and other mood issues, skin issues such as eczema and more serious health issues such as diabetes and autoimmune disease.

The health of your digestive system is generally controlled by the amount and types of bacteria it contains, and an overgrowth of bad bacteria leads to an imbalance. This is known as ‘gut dysbiosis’ and can result in some of the symptoms and health issues listed above.

The types of bacteria we have in our guts is influenced by everything that we eat and do and different colonies of bacteria have been found in those consuming high sugar diets compared with those on a more natural, plant-based diet. For example, researchers have found a difference in the types of gut bacteria found in those with depressive disorders compared to those without.

 

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Immunity
Category Menu Gastro Intestinal Health
Gastro-Intestinal Health
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Early Immune System Development
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