Think of your gut and the trillions of bacteria inside of it like a car engine performing various functions, for which it requires a regular supply of fuel. The quality of that fuel will determine how well functions are performed and ultimately how well the engine runs as a whole.
Put simply, the quality of what we put into our system (gut) affects how well we function. So let’s take a look at some long-term symptoms of an unhealthy gut, backed by recent scientific research…
Leaner people have greater variation in their microbiome than heavier people. To put it in simple terms, more variation in your diet leads to more variation in the microbiome.
Antibiotics are also a big factor. As discussed in the last blog, these can cause a huge shift in bacteria balance. Animal studies of early life exposure to antibiotics show lasting metabolic consequences. Studies show that administration of low doses of penicillin to mice early in life increases the risk of weight gain and obesity and promotes lipid accumulation by altering the gut microbiota. Mice treated continuously with low-dose penicillin from one week before birth until weaning exhibited higher body weight and fat mass in adulthood.
Joints and bones
In the past decade, we have learned that gut microbiome is probably the most important determinant of your immune health and the levels of inflammation in your body. In recent years, published research has shown us the direct connection between these microbes and osteoarthritis (especially in the hip and knee), and have also shown that by healing your gut, you can reduce inflammation and heal your joints
There are also numerous studies showing the link between the microbiome and rheumatoid arthritis. Research on these issues is still in its early stages, but what’s true for the lab mice may also prove to be true for humans…
As you know, our gut has good and bad bacteria in it. However, some of the ‘good guys’ that give off beneficial metabolites die and are not replaced. This means that the bad bacteria can invade and multiply.
Their metabolites can cause inflammation of the gut lining and cause the tiny pores in the lining to become bigger and let through food larger food molecules that shouldn’t be getting through at that size. Not only that, but the inflammation in the gut wall causes an immune response.
Our body responds by sending immune products (i.e. Interleukins and TNF (tumour necrosis factor)) to help fend off the invasion. Some of these can end up in the blood supply and spread to the joints, resulting in local inflammation at that area.
Dysbiosis is a problem that you should not ignore – by treating it on time you can prevent worse intestinal disorders such as leaky gut. In most cases your body is strong enough to recover from dysbiosis yourself by rectifying your bacteria imbalance.
So what does all of this mean?
Well, until scientists have definitive answers, the best strategy for winning your battle against these issues is to eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Not only can it help you feel better, your gut microbiome may be healthier, too.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
The best way to enrich your gut bacteria is to eat fermented foods and drinks. This is because they contain probiotics which are live beneficial bacteria that are naturally created by the process of fermentation. Kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, unpasteurised cheese, unsweetened cultured yoghurt and kimchi are all types of food to consider. You would need to eat these daily to get the benefit, of course!
It’s important to remember that if you opt for kimchi and sauerkraut, to make sure it hasn’t been pasteurised as this kills off the beneficial bacteria. You can also make your own kefir or sauerkraut! There are plenty of helpful online tutorials and videos to get you started.
However, fermented foods have an acquired taste, and some people cannot tolerate it. If you’re one of these people, then trying a probiotic supplement may be the answer. If you are just starting out we would suggest opting for the highest dose of gut bacteria you can (into the billions!) and start with the most researched bacteria called lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Sometimes you may suffer bloating when taking probiotics, so try taking them at night to reduce your discomfort. If this doesn’t settle down, please consider seeing a nutritional therapist as you will need more help eliminating the bad bacteria first.
If you are not taking probiotics daily, then make sure you take them during periods of increased stress, if you have a gut infection, are suffering from depression, are travelling and when taking a course of antibiotics.
Equally important are prebiotics. Prebiotic fibre is a non-digestible part of foods like bananas, onions and garlic, the skin of apples, chicory root, beans, and many others. Prebiotic fibre goes through the small intestine undigested and is fermented when it reaches the large colon, thus feeding the beneficial bacteria colonies (including probiotic bacteria).
If your diet has been lacking in fibre then you can try taking a prebiotic supplement. Bimuno is a great example! This company in particular has done research and showed that taking a sachet a day for 30 days has helped people suffering with anxiety and depression.
Gut symptoms can be unpredictable, persistent and hard to understand. Many people struggle with identifying the root causes of their symptoms and subsequently fail with numerous interventions.
If you feel that you need for further support to help manage symptoms or to simply tailor and improve your lifestyle for better health, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01722 512 043.