Gut Health FAQs Answered (With BioCare)
We get asked a lot of questions about gut health, from good bacteria to the importance of probiotics and dealing with digestive conditions. To help answer some of the most popular FAQs, we spoke with one of the nutrition experts at BioCare, a supplier of vitamin, mineral and probiotic supplements. Here's what they had to say.
Gut Health FAQs: Video Transcript
Hello, I'm Ellie, I'm a qualified nutritionist and nutritional therapist, and I work as a product consultant for BioCare.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
The health of our digestive system is so important. The main functions of our digestive system are to digest food, to absorb nutrients from our food, and to eliminate waste.
Therefore, if our digestive system is compromised in some way, this can have an impact on our overall nutrient status, and possibly resulting in nutrient deficiencies, and most likely other symptoms such as fatigue, constipation and diarrhoea.
Another important function of our digestive system is the role it plays in supporting our immunity. Our digestive lining acts as a barrier in the similar way to skin, protecting us from our environment and from pathogens. If this barrier function is broken down, for example by inflammation, this has been associated with the presence of allergies and autoimmune conditions.
The health of our digestive system has also been linked to other body systems, such as our mental health and our skin health. Because of all of this, our gut health is considered as integral to our overall health and well being.
How Do You Improve Gut Health?
There are many ways in which gut health can be improved. The most important thing is to identify what it is that is causing or contributing to the digestive symptoms that are being experienced.
Our digestive systems have to adapt to so many things on a daily basis for stress to eating different cuisines, so it's really individual. In general, the key factors to consider are diet, so making sure you're consuming the right foods, plenty of fibre and water. Exercise as being sedentary can lead to a sluggish digestive system and stress. So when we're stressed our body down regulates other body systems to help prioritise managing stress. The first system to be downregulated is our digestion, and we often find that many digestive symptoms are associated with or aggravated by stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome and reflux. So addressing these three key factors can have a significant impact on gut health.
Can You Restore Gut Health?
Gut health can be restored, but the length of time this can take is really individual and specific, and based on what state the digestive system was in to begin with. So gut health is an investment. It takes time to restore, especially if there's lots of inflammation present. And as part of addressing gut health, lifestyle factors and mental health, often have to be incorporated and addressed alongside.
Can You Naturally Increase The Good Bacteria In Your Gut?
You can increase levels of good bacteria in your digestive system in a couple of ways. This can be done by increasing your intake of bacteria, either via supplementation with a probiotic, or increasing your intake of fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir.
What Foods Are Good For Gut Health?
As well as fermented foods that are other foods which are really great for the digestive health.
Fibre in general is really important for digestive health, helping overall with bowel movements and regularity. Prebiotics or indigestible fibres are considered as food or as a sort of fertiliser for gut bacteria, helping them to thrive within the digestive tract. Prebiotics are naturally present in lots of fruit vegetables, particularly chicory, artichokes, and leeks. So increasing your intake of these foods can be really beneficial for gut health.
Does Your Gut Really Benefit From Probiotics?
Your digestive system absolutely benefits from probiotics. They've been proven to help reduce gut inflammation and to help reduce digestive symptoms, such as constipation and diarrhoea. Probiotics are especially beneficial if you've been unwell or if you've taken antibiotics, as this can disrupt the balance and the number of good bacteria present. So, probiotics can help to replenish some of that good bacteria.
Are There Foods To Avoid For Better Gut Health?
As suggested health is so individualised, what works for some individuals may not work for others. There are certain foods which are known to have a negative impact on gut health for example, sugar, which can affect our gut bacteria. Additionally, gluten has been shown to contribute towards gut inflammation, with some people being more sensitive than others, so avoiding gluten may be beneficial.
Also, for those who have a sensitive or inflamed digestive system, may find spicy food can further irritate or cause pain. So, avoiding spicy food may be favourable. But the most important thing to remember is that if there is a specific food group which is causing symptoms when consumed, it is best to avoid to prevent the symptoms and to improve overall gut.
What Other Benefits Can Probiotics Provide?
Bacteria are everywhere in our digestive system, our reproductive system, our mouth and on our skin. And as a whole, we are more bacterial cells than we are human cells, which really highlights the significance of our relationship with bacteria.
Aside from gut health, probiotics supplementation has been shown to support our immune system, so reducing the risk of allergies and the severity of infections, to improve skin health, in particular for those with conditions such as acne, as well as supporting the clearance of fungal infections such as thrush.
The products offered are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. Results are not guaranteed and may vary from individual to individual.