This seemingly foreign part of our body plays a huge role in our overall health and it is important to understand the basics. So what is the gut?
Bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic living things referred to as microbes are found in the large intestine and they are referred to as the 'gut microbiome'. These microbes weigh about 1–2.5 kilograms, which is roughly the weight of your brain. Together, they function as an organ in your body and again, play a huge role in your health. The status of your gut effects your mood, energy, metabolism, and immune system.
You are first exposed to microbes when you pass through your mother’s birth canal. As you grow, your gut microbiome begins to diversify, and higher microbiome diversity is considered good for your health. Throughout your life, the foods you eat affect the diversity of your gut bacteria.
You have probably heard of probiotics; these are live “good” bacteria that help your digestive system. Foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, and tempeh are all probiotics. Probiotics are the front-line warriors in your gut health battle. When you eat these foods, you flood your gut with a fresh army to fight the “bad” bacteria.
Prebiotics on the other hand are the war effort in the battle. Prebiotics are fibres that humans can't digest but feed the “good” bacteria ensuring they stay alive to continue keeping you healthy. These types of foods include beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, garlic, and onion.
It is important to eat both probiotic and prebiotic foods to promote the most ideal balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. What is your favourite 'good gut health' recipe?
Miranda Morris is a yoga instructor for Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: Anti-aging yoga secrets and RECIPE: Vegan overnight oats.