Much of Hippocrates wisdom, which is now over 2,000 years old, has stood the test of time. The quote above is one of them.
Obviously, not all diseases have root in the gut. For example, this does not apply to genetic diseases. However, there is evidence that many chronic metabolic diseases do, in fact, have a direct relationship with your stomach. And, this has a lot to do with the different gut bacteria residing in our digestive tracts, as well as the integrity of the gut lining.
What Science Says
According to numerous studies, unwanted bacterial products, called endotoxins, can sometimes "leak" through and enter the bloodstream. When this happens, our immune system recognises these foreign molecules and mounts an attack against them, resulting in a chronic inflammatory response.
This diet-induced inflammation may trigger insulin resistance (driving type 2 diabetes), leptin resistance (causing obesity) and/or fatty liver disease, and is also strongly linked to many other serious diseases.
What Inflammation Means And Why You Should Care About It
Just to make sure that we're all on the same page, I want to briefly explain what inflammation is. I'm not going to get into much detail, because inflammation is extremely complicated. It involves dozens of cell types and hundreds of different signalling molecules, all of which communicate in immensely complex ways.
Put simply, inflammation is the response of the immune system to foreign invaders, toxins or cell injury.
The purpose of inflammation is to affect the function of immune cells, blood vessels and signalling molecules, to initiate an attack against foreign invaders or toxins, and begin repair of damaged structures.
We're all familiar with acute (short-term) inflammation. For example, if you get bitten by a bug, or hit your big toe at the doorstep, then that specific area will likely become swollen, red, hot and painful. This is inflammation at play.
The Good And The Bad Of Inflammation
Inflammation is generally considered to be a good thing. Without it, pathogens like bacteria and viruses could easily take over our bodies and kill us. However, there is another type of inflammation that may be harmful, because it is inappropriately deployed against the body's cells.
This is a type of inflammation that is active all the time and may be present in your entire body. It is often called chronic inflammation, low-grade inflammation, or systemic inflammation. For example, your blood vessels (like your coronary arteries) and the structures in your brain could be inflamed.
It is now believed that chronic, systemic inflammation is one of the leading drivers of some of the world's most serious diseases. These include obesity, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and numerous others. However, it is not known exactly what causes the inflammation in the first place.
A Healthy Gut Is An Indication Of Overall Wellbeing
If your gut is healthy, then chances are the rest of your body is in good shape as well. There is an endless list of diseases and medical conditions that involve a critical role of gut health and nutrition habits. It includes everything – hypertension, chronic fatigue, autism, colon cancer, heart disease, acne vulgaris and depression among others.
This fact – that virtually all diseases are tightly linked to the gut and/or microbiome – has led some researchers to propose that it’s time for a paradigm shift in medicine.
When we think about it, it’s not really surprising that the gut is ground zero for human health. Not only is it a part of the human immune system, but is also the area where nutrients are absorbed and where most of the cells that make up the human microbiota are found.
Unlike many other parts of the human body, the gut – in its totality – is extremely malleable. The microbial communities it harbours are in some ways the gatekeepers of the body. They help control the permeability of the intestinal wall and which compounds are allowed to pass into the host’s circulatory system. They don’t do so out of kindness, but rather because man-microbe co-evolution has forged close, mutually beneficial relationships between man and many different microorganisms
What Can You Do To Improve Your Gut Health?
Your diet is the first place to start when looking to improve gut health. Then comes exercise.
Follow the below mentioned routine daily to make your gut better:
• Eat at least 600-1000 grams of green veggies every day (note veggies does not include potato, sweet potato etc.)
• Take adequate protein depending on your bodyweight, sex and activity level.
• Eat more in the morning, less in the afternoon and least at night.
• Good sleep of a minimum of 8 hours is a must, if you can’t take power naps during the day.
• Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day for a minimum of 4-5 days a week. Please note that walking is not an exercise, it is an additional factor for your NEAT-Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).
• Probiotic foods like yogurt with active or live cultures, kefir and sauerkraut, may also help.
• If you are allergic to some foods, you may take supplements, but only after consulting your physician.
• Avoid processed and junk foods.
Much of what goes on in your body is a result of what happens in your gut. If you are extremely overweight, feel mentally foggy, have low sex drive, are chronically fatigued, and/or suffer from a chronic illness of some sort, then chances are your gut is isn’t quite healthy. By changing your diet and taking steps to gradually repair your microbiota, you may notice a significant improvement in your health and well-being.
About The Author: Puneet Sharma has been in the industry for the past seven years and is internationally certified by The National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Poliquin Performance Specialist Coach and Bio-signature Practitioner, Precision Nutrition-1 Coach, REPS-UK level-3 Personal Trainer and Rehab Master Trainer just to name a few.