Updated: Oct 24, 2020
A study was released in 2010, Filippo et al (1), comparing the gut microbiota of children in Italy and rural Africa. They discovered that the African children who ate beans, whole grains, vegetables and nuts, as opposed to the Italian children who ate a diet high in meat, fat, and sugar had a greater diversity of gut bacteria, were better at regulating inflammation and infection, and had a greater capacity to extract energy from fibre. The Italian children had higher levels of inflammation in the body that manifested itself in allergies, asthma, autoimmunity, and obesity.
Diet is not the only thing that affects our gut bacteria. The overuse of antibiotics, antacids, and other medication, as well as stress all have an impact on our digestive system. When we become dependent on medication we end up in a vicious cycle. Medications may initially help us to feel better but, as they affect the balance in our gut bacteria, we may end up impacting the different functions that our gut bacteria play and never really shaking off the feeling of ill health.
Good gut bacteria provides us with further nutrients to fuel the body, especially the B vitamins and vitamin K, and this keep us healthy (2). Without these nutrients we begin to feel more tired, less motivated, and choose foods that give us quick energy hits, such as foods high in sugar and/or carbohydrates. Foods like cakes, biscuits, chocolate, crisps, white bread, and pasta. This has the knock-on effect of us gaining weight and causing inflammation in the body, which may lead to further dis-ease in the body. Pretty much what the 2010 study revealed about the Italian children.
The way we feel can also be a result of what is going on in the gut, not just the head!! It is estimated that 90% of serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the gut (3). As well as being a hormone that helps our brain function and reduces anxiety, depression, and mental disorder, it is required to help regulate peristalsis, smooth muscle contraction, and mucosal secretion of the gut. In other words, it keeps our digestive system functioning well, so we poop regularly and easily!! Gut bacteria play a major part in the metabolism of serotonin (4). Imbalance in the gut bacteria may affect the metabolism of serotonin, which is why we often see IBS and anxiety linked. It is not necessarily the person who is anxious, rather it is the lack of serotonin being produced in the gut, that is the problem. Rebalance the gut and this may help reduce the level of anxiety a person experiences. And of course, there is the added bonus, that a better functioning gut means a person is less likely to worry their digestive issues which in turn reduces their stress levels. As we mentioned above it is all interconnected.
Addressing the imbalance in the gut by making nutrition and lifestyle changes can make a difference.
It did to one of my recent clients who came to me with incredible pain in her abdomen and other digestive issues which was affecting her quality of life. She also had thyroid issues and needed fluctuating and increasing amounts of thyroid medication to function. We made step by step changes to her diet and added in nutrition that was key to her genetics and dietary choices, we identified and removed trigger foods, did a 4Rs gut programme with supplements, and worked on her managing her stress levels. After 2 months all her digestive issues had gone, and her thyroid medication had to be reduced. Oh, and I almost forgot she lost 10lbs in weight which she hadn’t anticipated, and was delighted with!!! We started with the gut and the results in other areas followed.
Do you want to be free from digestive issues?
Do you want to be able to better manage a health condition?
Do you want to live a life that you enjoy?
Then, why not book a free discovery call to see how we can work together to rebalance your gut health, and help you reach your goal so that you thrive and live the life you want to live?
BANT registered Nutritional Therapist / Nutritionist
1) De Filippo C, Cavalieri D, Di Paola M, et al. Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2010 Aug;107(33):14691-14696. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1005963107.
2) Yoshii K, et al, Metabolism of Dietary and Microbial Vitamin B Family in the Regulation of Host Immunity. Front Nutr. 2019;6:48. Published 2019 Apr 17. doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00048
3) Lipski E, Digestive Wellness, 4th edition, Chapter 10, p104, 2012
4) Ge X, Pan J, Liu Y, Wang H, Zhou W, Wang X. Intestinal Crosstalk between Microbiota and Serotonin and its Impact on Gut Motility. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2018;19(3):190-195. doi: 10.2174/1389201019666180528094202. PMID: 29804531.