When we talk about your gut, we mean your gastrointestinal system, which includes your stomach, small intestine, and colon. You may not know it, but gut health plays a huge role in both our mental and physical health and can have a major impact on how we feel day to day. There are 500-1000 species of bacteria present in your digestive system, and research continues to reveal their vital role in your health. All of the bacteria and microorganisms in your gut weighs about ~200g, about the weight of a mango! Your body generates “good” bacteria to help keep “bad” bacteria in check, so when you have a healthy balance, your health reflects that. The foods you eat have a big impact on gut bacteria, and prebiotics such as veggies, lentils and beans can be a massive help. Additionally eating a diverse array of foods is another way of keeping your microbes happy! Keep your gut happy and healthy, and ensure you are getting the right foods for you!
Did you know that 70% of our serotonin (aka the happy hormone) is made in our gut? That means what is going on in your gut affects your body and mind. …and it’s amazing how often food choices are overlooked when it comes to your mood and overall mental wellbeing! Just like we need the best nutrients for our physical health, our mental health also requires the right fuel. Knowing what food affects our mental state and why is so important. Don’t let food damage, dictate, or drive your mood any longer. Get in control with a total body reset from your local Metabolic Balance Practitioner.
Gut health is closely tied to a healthy diet and lifestyle. There are a few simple steps you can take to help keep your gut happy and healthy:
-5+2 – aim for 5 different veggies and 2 fruits every day
– Make sure to eat a lot of fiber (up to 30g per day). At Metabolic Balance we recommend a variety of veggies, nuts, seeds, rye bread and a daily apple
-Try avoiding processed foods. Choose real foods that don’t need an ingredients list
Research shows that a diet with wholegrains and minimal processed food lowers the risk of colorectal cancer and can benefit the beneficial microbes in the gut. The Metabolic Balance® program is a wholefood personalized meal plan that has helped thousands of clients get results. Get in touch to find a coach near you!
The intestines are an important part of the digestive system – they transport the food bolus, absorb nutrients and water, produce vitamins and short-chain fatty acids, and remove indigestible food components. With a length of about 25ft and a surface area of up to 3,000 square feet. With our food, we not only absorb vital nutrients that enter the bloodstream via the intestine, but also encounter many foreign substances and pathogens. A healthy intestine that is equipped with a good intestinal flora and whose intestinal wall barrier is intact can catch, destroy and excrete toxins and pathogens before they can pose a risk to the body. Unfortunately, our gut microbes of the intestine can be massively disturbed by today’s modern nutrition and lifestyle. Often the intestinal mucosa is damaged, e. g. by a diet low in fiber and too much sugar or by abundant additives that are added in large quantities to many processed foods. It is estimated that about 17.6 lbs of preservatives pass through the intestine over the course of an adult life. This is unfavorable, since the preservatives do their job in the intestine just as they do as an additive in food: They destroy bacteria and do not distinguish between disease-causing or health-promoting intestinal bacteria.
The intestinal mucosa as a border post Nutrients and water are supposed to reach the body from the intestine. However, this does not apply to undigested food components, toxins and pollutants. Therefore, the intestinal mucosa must form an effective barrier. Normally, the cells in the intestine are located close together and the intercellular spaces are sealed with a kind of “Velcro” tape, i. e. membrane protein complexes, the so-called „tight junctions“. In addition, the intestinal mucosa is supported by a variety of different intestinal bacteria, which settle on the intestinal mucosa like a “thick fluffy carpet”, creating an impermeable barrier to blood circulation. The tight junctions can be opened to allow larger molecules and larger quantities of water to pass through. Disruptive factors such as stress, medications, alcohol, pathogenic germs and various additives can alter the intestinal flora and damage the intestinal mucosa. The pathogenic bacteria primarily benefit from a changed intestinal flora, because they can adapt very quickly to the changed environment and multiply accordingly quickly. As a result, inflammation of the intestinal mucosa may occur and the intestinal epithelium gradually becomes permeable (leaky gut syndrome) to allergens, pollutants and pathogens that harm the body. Allergies, diabetes mellitus type 2, skin diseases and fungal infections are also associated with a damaged and altered intestinal flora.
Food for the intestinal cells Lactobacilli (lactic acid bacteria) and bifidobacteria, which settle sufficiently in the intestine, can protect and strengthen the intestinal mucosa. Studies have impressively demonstrated that lactobacilli can repair defects caused by harmful bacteria. The broadest possible bacterial colonization in the intestine is therefore more than desirable. This ensures that the intestine is well supplied and the intestinal cells are optimally nourished. The intestinal cells receive all vital nutrients directly from the intestinal content. The intestinal content can be partially metabolized by some intestinal bacteria from the group of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, forming short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids provide energy, stimulate intestinal peristalsis and the circulation of the intestinal wall. Particular attention is paid to butyric acid, which promotes the metabolism of the intestinal mucosa and the growth of blood vessels in the intestinal wall. It also has anti-inflammatory and anticancerogenic effects. Propionic acid and acetic acid play an important role in gluco- and lipogenesis. Furthermore, propionic acid supports the glucose balance in addition to building up the intestinal flora. It throttles the release of glucose and stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. At the same time, the sensitivity of the body cells to insulin is increased. It is therefore beneficial if sufficient lactobacilli and bifidobacteria colonize the intestine. With a nutrition rich in fiber, especially vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruits, the bacterial population can be increased. But just as important are foods that provide probiotic bacterial strains, which are mainly found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk and many more.
Intestinal bacteria against obesity Obesity is still mostly induced by high calorie food intake and lack of exercise. However, numerous studies have shown now that there is also a significant difference between normal and obese people with regard to the composition of the intestinal microbiome. Thus, the two bacterial phyla Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes occur in different populations – in normal-weight individuals, in the majority, Bacteroidetes were detected, while Firmicutes predominated in overweight individuals. The higher the percentage of Bacteroidetes, the lower the body weight was. Currently, scientists are increasingly interested in the significance of the bacterial species Prevotella and Bacteroides in connection with the clinical picture of obesity and the corresponding nutritional recommendations. In studies, subjects were divided into different enterotypes depending on which bacterial species dominated – Prevotella or Bacteroides. They were able to show that this classification had a decisive influence on dietary success. If Prevotella dominated, the subjects responded successfully to a nutrition characterized by abundant dietary fiber, especially fiber from whole grain products. If the bacterial strain Bacteroides had the upper hand, then this nutrition was less successful. Instead, a nutrition that promoted bifidobacteria, i.e. foods rich in inulin (parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, salsify, and many others), was better able to positively influence metabolism and support weight loss.
Conclusion Our intestine and its functionality has an immense influence on our health and well-being. For this reason, it is important to do everything possible to maintain intestinal health and take good care of the intestinal inhabitants. This is best achieved with a nutrition that is above all varied and rich in fiber and vital substances (vegetables, herbs, whole grains, legumes) and largely avoids processed foods and products. With a colorful mixture of these foods, as they are also compiled in the Metabolic Balance nutrition plan, the health-promoting intestinal bacteria receive plenty of nourishment and the opportunity to settle diligently in the intestine. In addition, high-quality fats (cold-pressed vegetable oils) and proteins (sea fish, nuts, dairy products, eggs) should not be missing. While fats support the energy production of intestinal cells, proteins (amino acids) are important components for building and repairing damaged intestinal cells. The Metabolic Balance nutrition plan takes all these criteria into account. Nevertheless, it may well be that participants with long-standing intestinal problems need support at the beginning of the nutritional change due to a very weakened intestinal flora. In this case, pre- and probiotics can be very useful and good. But – “Keep your eyes open when shopping” – many of these pre- and probiotics contain, in addition to a variety of bacterial strains, plenty of additives, which in turn cancel out the positive effect of the bacterial strains and have an unfavorable effect on the intestinal flora. For example, Metabolic Basics Probiotics B.26 is recommended. With 26 bacterial strains (100 billion germs) and 24 herbal, spice and fruit extracts, it offers a high concentration and bacterial diversity. At the same time, the herbal and spice extracts have an anti-inflammatory effect on the intestine and facilitate the settlement of important intestinal bacteria in the intestine.
Source: Yu Q et al. Lactobacillus protects the integrity of intestinal epithelial barrier damaged by pathogenic bacteria. Front Cell Infect Mircobiol. 5:26.Doi: 103389/fcimb.2015.00026.Schumacher B. “Störungen im Darm machen krank“. Ärzte Zeitung 2014 Oct 10; 03:05.Wehkamp J, Götz M, Herrlinger K, Steurer W, Stange E „Chronisch entzündliche Darmerkrankungen“; Deutsches Ärzteblatt 2016 Feb 5; 113/5Fischer S. „Genom, Proteom und Mikrobiom – Ein mikrobiologischer Blick in den menschlichen Organismus. Die Naturheilkunde 5/2015Francesco Asnica et. Al: Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1098 deeply phenotyped individuals; Nature Medicine (2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41591-020-01183-8)Christensen L., Roager H. m., astrup a., Hjorth m. f. (2018): microbial enterotypes in personalized nutri-tion and obesity management. am J Clin nutr 108 (4): 645–651Hjorth m. f., Roager H. m., Larsen T. m., Poulsen S. K.,Licht T. R. Bahl m. I., Zohar Y., astrup a. (2018): Pre-treatment microbial Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio, determines body fat loss success during a 6-month randomized controlled diet intervention. Int J Obes 42 (3): 580–583
One of the most important parts of your health is not something you can see or even directly feel. It is the billions of microbes in your gut that through their diversity and metabolism modulate your immune system, mood, and overall well-being. Two of the most important factors that impact your microbiota are your diet and lifestyle. In regards to diet, eating a wide variety of foods, eating foods rich in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and incorporating probiotic foods are ways to ensure you maintain a diverse and happy community of microbes in your gut. For more information check out this infographic from the European Society for Neurogastroenterology and Motility.
Did you know that an apple contains more than one million bacteria? This is what scientists at Graz University of Technology found out in a 2019 study. Eating apples is therefore not only beneficial because they contain an abundance of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber but also because they contain microbes. The bacteria found in the seeds and flesh, can have beneficial effects on the microbiota in your intestine. In this study, it was also examined whether there is a difference between apples from conventional cultivation vs organic apples. The result was clear: the organic apples showed significantly more diverse bacterial communities. So enjoy your organic apples and stay healthy!
One of the best ways to boost your gut microbiome is by eating foods that contain good bacteria! Check out the infographic below to learn about foods that can boost your microbiome and in turn your health!
Less susceptible to colds, infections and allergies
Healthy eating also has a direct effect on the gut, the center of the immune system. If the gut is in balance, you are healthy. Vital food strengthens the immune system with vitamins, minerals and trace elements and provides the body with the necessary building blocks.
Only if regeneration works, you can live healthily.
Salt flavors your food nicely – but at the same time it also provides valuable minerals and plays an important role in regulating the water balance in the human organism. Sodium chloride, a component of salt, is also needed for the nervous system, digestion and bone formation – but you should use it sparingly. It has long been known that an excess of table salt in food can cause high blood pressure – but what very few of us know is that the course of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease, can also be negatively influenced by salt.
The normal daily requirement is two to three grams, but this is often exceeded, since most people not only use salt to season their food, they also consume it in many salty processed products.
A team of researchers led by Dominik Müller at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin investigated the effect of high salt consumption on the intestinal flora. The composition of the intestinal flora is becoming more and more important in a wide range of diseases – and is increasingly becoming the focus of research.
The intestinal mucosa is the main habitat of the immune cells, which produce a large army of antibodies, neurotransmitters and defense & scavenger cells to protect the body from foreign substances. Earlier studies have shown that too much table salt in food increases the number of immune cells called “Th17 helper cells”. These cells then produce increased levels of the Interleukin-17 messenger substance, which triggers inflammatory reactions in the blood vessels. Blood pressure increases, and the development of autoimmune diseases can be stimulated as a result.
In the Berlin study, the research team investigated the extent to which the intestinal flora changes due to excessive salt consumption. For two weeks, mice were given 0.3 grams of table salt every day with their food. Examination of the feces samples for the composition of the bacterial species showed that the number of some bacterial species was reduced and that some of them had disappeared completely from the digestive tract – the intestinal bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus, for example, could no longer be detected after 14 days of increased salt intake.
So, to what extent is this result transferable to humans? In a pilot study with twelve healthy men, the researchers tested the composition of bacteria in the digestive tract. The men were given six grams of table salt for 14 days in addition to their normal food. They consumed an average of 12-14 grams of table salt per day. The intestinal bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus also reacted in the test persons – and could not be detected at the end of the test.
Another interesting result of the study was that significantly fewer Th17 helper cells were formed in mice that had been fed a salt-rich diet and probiotic lactobacilli – and their blood pressure also decreased. It is not clear whether lactobacilli, which are mainly found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and cheese, have an effect like that of the probiotic lactobacilli that were added to the food – particularly since the researchers cannot rule out the possibility that there are other salt-sensitive bacterial species that have an important influence on health.
Further studies are necessary to shed more light on this – and the results of these studies may enable us to counteract autoimmune diseases with an individually-adapted probiotic therapy. This is something to look forward to!