Let’s face it, talkin’ about the gut ain’t sexy, just googling it brings up a rather disturbing mosaic of beer bellies, intestinal diagrams – and the main reason for our misconception with the word gut health – it’s no wonder we’re all confused. So we thought we would break it down and give you a quick guts-planation.
Let’s talk about the gut, baby, let’s talk about yours and mine.
40% of us have digestive issues at any given time and we’d rather talk about ANYTHING else than our gurgling midriff and toilet dashing, SO from this sentence on, this is where that STOPS.
You are now entering an open “poo chat” forum, and you wanna know why? Because it’s important, like seriously important. Hippocrates saw it many moons ago when he said: “all disease begins in the gut” and for some reason, we’ve chosen to bury that. So get your little archeological spades and hats out as we’re about to discover what he was on about.
Not only are our day to day lives dictated by our digestive health, with one in five people needing to take time off work due to their symptoms and over a quarter (28%) avoiding going out (Love Your Gut report 2018), but what we eat also affects our children and our grandchildren. So we need to start tuning in and listening to our second brain, our partner in crime, the Dennis to our menace – our gut.
We have 2kgs worth of bacteria, roughly 10 trillion little critters made up of viruses, fungi and organisms just chillin’ in our body – mostly in our digestive tract – also known as our “microbiome”.
All this research is so new and literally just coming into public consciousness. We promise you can trust us as we’ve been spending the past year interviewing tons of top-notch “gut pros”: scientists, academics, chefs, and foodies to get the real scoop and science behind what we eat, but what really surprised us was how much is going on in the ivory towers of academia and science research AND NONE OF US KNOW ABOUT IT.
Watch all of our interviews HERE.
These guys are realising just how important the gut is to our health and wellbeing, including its impact on our immune system. They’re pouring tons of money and time delving into all these areas like how it has a huge impact on diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even mental health, but the information doesn’t necessarily trickle down to us mere mortals… Until now.
What’s the microbiome anyway?
We have over 10,000 species and approximately 0.2kgs worth of bacteria, lots of little critters made up of viruses, fungi, and organisms just chillin’ in our body – mostly in our digestive tract – also known as our “microbiome”. Now, if you’d have told us this a year ago, we would’ve had them chucked right off our turf and out onto the street without an eviction notice or a fare for the bus, HOWEVER, it turns out, we need them, massively.
Despite them being scattered around the place, scientists are starting to treat them as an organ within their own right – welcome to the stage little bugs, your time has come to shine.
They’re discovering that not only do they outnumber our genes (1.3 to 1) they are potentially more influential than them, so if this were Game of Thrones, they’re an army we definitely want to have on board, and thankfully, they are devoted to us from birth – even if subconsciously in the western world we’ve been doing all we can to deplete them (treason!), but more on that later.
Why do we need the bacteria in our gut?
“You is kind, you is smart and you is important” (The Help) One of our favourite film quotes and rather fitting when explaining our microbes:
They protect us, they know the difference between harmful pathogens and the non-harmful holidaymakers just fancying a journey through your intestines.
These little blighters are much more agile than our human cells, they can reshape and cultivate according to their environment – absolute ninjas. They can actually swap genes and bits of DNA amongst themselves, like a tiny miniature “microbe stock exchange”.
They affect pretty much everything hormone production, breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, making vitamins, regulating appetite, production of serotonin (blows our minds every time!).
Modern life has had a negative effect on our gut.
The robustness of this community can make a huge, huge difference to our health, and the most fantastic news is – we can change it ourselves, and goodness knows we need to. In the Western world, we’ve neglected this along with our walkmans and VCRs – processed foods bursting with additives and emulsifiers are wreaking havoc on our garden of microbes. It’s looking more like a toddlers nursery, strewn vegetable patch, than Alan Titchmarsh’s back yard at the moment – we’ve always known processed food is bad for us, but we’ve never known WHY.
Antibiotics are necessary and have saved many lives, but they are like a nuclear bomb on the “war on bacteria” – they strip us of all bacteria (the “champs” – good and the “Chumps”- bad) and allow the nasty ones to take over, and then we’re back at square one again – a vicious cycle.
We’ve also created a very sterile environment over here, with our hand rubs (highly addictive) and bleaches, in the process, killing off some good bacteria we actually need too.
(If you wanna get real sciencey on this there’s more in our “delve deeper” section on the site.)
Making friends with bacteria again.
We can’t say for definite what a “healthy microbiome” should look like, but we know diversity is good, so we need to start making more microbial friends, its a good excuse to be anti-social with your human ones, and it doesn’t have to be drastic, along the lines of allowing your children to play in soil, and your dog to lick you to garner some new bacterial recruits.
The research is still very very NEW, and at some point in the future, alongside self-driving cars, jars that open with ease and a phone battery invented by the Duracell bunny. The research will be so advanced and healthcare so personalised, we’ll know exactly what bacteria we need and have a lovely little probiotic and prebiotic made just for us to chug down with our morning coffee. Until then, there are broad stroke changes (and wonderful additions!) which you can find HERE, whilst the scientists are beavering away.
Gut your hands on some gut stuff!