Updated: Sep 30, 2021
What’s the secret to a happy healthy gut? At 4U Pilates, we believe taking a holistic approach to gut health is best. Our gut health can support our physical and mental health too, and when it comes to improving your movement and agility, we like to look at all areas.
The digestive system is the centre of our mental and physical health – it absorbs the nutrients we need for our immune system, brain function and energy production. An unhealthy gut can hinder how well we move, how we think, and how productive we are across our day - and even into our sleeping hours too.
FACT 70% of the bacteria in your gut wall support your immune system. Your gut also contains over 500 million neurons equivalent to the size and complexity of a cat's brain!!!
Technically-speaking, the gut connects to key areas such as the brain, vagus nerve and Enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is part of the peripheral nervous system, so to is the autonomic nervous system. You can learn more about this in this Food For Thought TEDx video.
The autonomic part of our central nervous system includes the sympathetic nervous system which mobilizes energy and resources during times of stress and arousal. It also includes our parasympathetic nervous system, which conserves energy and resources during relaxed states, including sleep. The autonomic nervous system is made of neurons connecting the CNS with internal organs.
The gut is a complicated place, it relies upon healthy bacteria - called our microbiome - as well as the multiple organs that makes up our digestive system. Research suggests that the bacteria living in our digestive tract plays a significant role in our overall health, with links to:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
You can read more about these links in this infographic published by the Huffington Post.
The gut microbiome and our bodies’ hormones are also intrinsically linked. For example, the gut microbiome regulates oestrogen. The oestrogen regulating function of specific bacteria in the microbiome is called the “oestrobolome.”
The oestrobolome – regulates the amount of oestrogen circulating in the bloodstream through the creation of β-glucuronidase, an enzyme which breaks down oestrogen into to its 'free', or biologically active form.
Women experiencing perimenopause or the menopause may find changes within their gut health, which can be linked to changes in oestrogen production, as well as hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, or adrenalin.
Consider the following questions when it comes to gauging your gut health:
What are your eating habits like?
How do you feel after a meal?
How healthy is your tongue?
What are your bowel movements like?
Are you taking any medications or substances?
For women in their 30s through to their 50s, it is worth being aware of your perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms affecting these areas of gut health.
WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR GUT THROUGH THIS TIME PERIOD INCLUDE:
Kinesiology, provided through my Touch 4 Health sessions, use the body's own knowledge to discover imbalances. This is done via muscle testing, which is an alternative medicine practice that can be used to effectively inform the practitioner of structural, muscular, chemical and mental imbalances.
What you eat has an impact on your body, the blood sugar levels, digestion, stress, immune, and sex hormones. Food has 3 effects on the body biogenic, biostatic and biocidic, these support and energise, neural or slow energy down and stress and overload your the fine balance of homeostasis.
Eating nutrient-rich, prebiotic foods and fibres can help. For example, flax seeds are converted into oestrogen-like compounds when acted on by bacteria in the gut, and can support hormonal imbalances. Other foods that support this include root vegetables, psyllium, beans, seeds, nuts, fruits and veggies. However, be aware that too many root vegetables, natural sugar, nuts or seeds can cause muscle imbalances.
Another way to help your body is to avoid trigger factors such as alcohol, certain foods, lack of sleep, or certain medication, which can affect the way your hormones work. When the body finds anything biocidal, it creates an inflammatory reaction and signals the immune system for help. For you body to be able to digest and breakdown the foods eaten, it needs to have a good balance of digestive acid and enzymes. Chewing the food well is a good way to help you digestive system break the foods down easily. Once the food is broken down it passes through the small intestine into the blood stream, from there another journey begins.
Taking probiotics – in particular, Lactobacillus Acidophilus - can help lower beta-glucuronidase.
There’s also increasing evidence that a plant-based diet is a major contributor to a healthy gut. So, eat plenty of vegetables and aim for local foods that are in season for highest nutritional value. Also consider getting good variety of 'colour' every day.
Alongside vegetables, consider healthy plant-based protein sources such as tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, and many types of beans.
And finally, consider upping your intake of fermented drinks and food such as kefir, kimchi, kombucha, or sauerkraut, which will do wonders for your microbiome health, and in turn, your gut health!
If you want to find out more about your body, book a Touch for Health session with Zoisa.