A healthy digestive system is the foundation of our overall health. It's responsible for breaking down, absorbing and assimilating nutrients which are necessary in order our cells to function. If you have a sluggish digestive system, then this will impact your overall health and vitality. Good health starts in your gut.
There are 10 times the amount of gut bacteria in our digestive tract than there are cells in our entire body. The composition of this bacteria plays a huge role in how your digestive system functions. The bacteria present fall under two broad categories; harmful and beneficial.
In a healthy gut, the harmful/beneficial bacteria have a balanced symbiotic relationship. This means that the 'harmful bacteria aren't actually bad for us. When in balance with the good guys, together they exert a number of health benefits such as aiding in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, reducing inflammation, regulating our immune system, weight management and many many more.
However, when the balance of this beneficial/harmful bacteria is disrupted, whereby the harmful bacteria outnumber the beneficial bacteria, digestive symptoms can present. These include bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence and abdominal pain.
There are a number of factors that disrupt the balance of these harmful/beneficial bacteria, the key ones being:
- Stress, which many people hold in the gut
- Medications such as antibiotics, oral contraceptive, anti-acids such as nexium, corticosteroids etc
- A poor diet high in sugar, fat, refined carbohydrates and other inflammatory foods
- Excessive caffeine intake
If this balance isn’t restored, the overgrowth of harmful bacteria can result in further health complications that begin to manifest as food intolerances, skin disorders (eczema, dermatitis), allergies (sinusitis, asthma), stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression, brain fog, hormonal disruption, weight gain, recurrent UTI’s and more.
There are certain foods that support the growth of the good bacteria whilst minimising the growth of the bad bacteria, keeping our gut flora in a healthy balanced state. These fall under three 3 categories
Natural antibacterial foods: Suppress the overgrowth of the harmful bacteria
- Coconut oil
- Fresh garlic
- Oregano oil
- Green tea
Probiotics: Sources of beneficial bacteria
- Yoghurt (eg Vaalia, Activia)
Prebiotic & colonic foods: Provide food and fuel for the beneficial bacteria
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Un-ripened banana
- Brown rice
- Green tea
- Bone broth
If you experience any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, then this might be due to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and thus restoring balance to this flora will provide symptom relief.