The gut is involved in a variety of body processes, from digestion to controlling mental health. Understand
O intestine It is a tube-shaped organ, which can reach up to 9 meters in length. It allows the passage of digested food, facilitating the absorption of nutrients and the elimination of waste. The intestine is divided into small (which connects the stomach to the large intestine) and large (smallest part of the intestine, responsible for the absorption of more than 60% of ingested water into the body).
In addition to its main functions – such as digestion of food, proper hydration, elimination of toxins and correct absorption of nutrients – the gut is also involved in almost every process in the human body, including the production of hormones and neurotransmitters that affect the body’s function. mental health. For this reason, the organ is known as our “second brain”.
The gut microbiota
The gut is home to 100 trillion microorganisms, collectively known as the “microbiota,” which produce metabolites important to health. About 70 to 80% of the body’s immune cells are concentrated in the gut.
There are 100 million neurons located throughout the gut that produce various neurotransmitters that regulate mood and satiety. Furthermore, up to 95% of the body’s total serotonin (one of the happiness hormones) is located in the gut.
A healthy gut microbiota contains a balanced composition of many classes of bacteria that have various health-promoting functions. While some bacteria are associated with disease, others are extremely important for your immune system, heart, weight, and many other aspects of health.
While it’s not known exactly why this happens, there is evidence that the bacteria that live in the gut do much more for the body than simply aiding digestion.
In fact, it appears that they are involved in every process in the body, from protecting the immune system against infections to producing vitamins, anti-inflammatory compounds, and even chemicals that affect the brain. Therefore, several studies have associated the health of the gut microbiota with mental health complications such as depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia.
The importance of gut health
Bad habits, eating excesses and alcohol abuse can unbalance your intestinal microbiota, which is home to millions of microorganisms that ensure the proper functioning of the intestine and immune system cells. The result of this imbalance is the disruption of the intestinal barrier and the weakening of the body’s defense responses.
What does that mean? In the short term, low immunity, greater chance of infections, colds, diarrhea, gas, heartburn and burning in the stomach and a tremendous malaise. In the long term, the chances of developing health problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, and even more serious ones, such as brain diseases.
Therefore, it is essential to learn to take care of your intestinal health and protect it from excesses. This includes taking care of the diet, doing physical activity and choosing foods that favor the action of the “good bacteria” in the intestine. These foods are known as probiotics and prebiotics.
How to take good care of gut health?
1. Reduce stress levels
High levels of stress affect the entire body, including the gut. You can decrease stress with meditation, exercise, massage, spending more time with friends or family, practicing aromatherapy, decreasing your caffeine intake, laughing, doing yoga, or playing with your pet.
2. Sleep well
Not getting enough sleep or getting too little sleep can have serious impacts on gut health. Try to prioritize getting at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Drinking natural teas and turning off electronic devices an hour before bed are some tips to improve sleep quality.
3. Eat slowly
Chewing your food well and eating slower will help promote complete digestion and nutrient absorption. In addition, the habit of eating slowly minimizes digestive discomfort and keeps the intestines healthy.
4. Drink lots of water
Hydration has a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines as well as the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Staying hydrated is an extremely simple way to promote gut health.
5. Check if you have a food intolerance
If you experience symptoms like cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux, you may be suffering from food intolerance. Try eliminating common trigger foods and see if your symptoms improve.
If you are able to identify a food or foods that are contributing to your symptoms, you may see a positive change in your digestive health by altering your eating habits.
6. Choose healthy foods
Reducing the amount of high-sugar and high-fat processed foods you eat can improve gut health and promote well-being. Plus, eating lots of plant foods and lean proteins can positively impact your gut. Diets rich in fiber contribute enormously to the health of the intestinal flora.
Finally, avoiding the consumption of foods with plastic packaging can also help. According to studies, packaging releases microplastics that can cause inflammatory bowel disease.
7. Bet on fermented, probiotic and prebiotic foods
There is common confusion with the terms “prebiotics” and “probiotics”, but they are quite different. While prebiotics refer to food substances not digested by the body and used by beneficial microorganisms, probiotics are the very beneficial microorganisms found in food.
Both (probiotics and prebiotics) are important for human health. In turn, symbiotic foods are composed of prebiotics and probiotics.
Some examples of prebiotics are legumes, beans, oats, bananas, asparagus, garlic and onions.
Examples of fermented probiotic foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles (unpasteurized) and other pickled vegetables.
8. Avoid the use of antibiotics
Take antibiotics only when needed: Antibiotics kill many good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome, possibly contributing to weight gain and antibiotic resistance. Therefore, only take antibiotics when medically necessary.
Scientists discover a more effective home treatment for common intestinal ailments
On a study from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers have found a more effective home treatment for common intestinal ailments.
The treatment consists of a digital mobile app, Zemedy, which offers resources centered on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address the gut-brain miscommunication and hypersensitivity surrounding the gut sensations that happen in someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, one of the most common diseases that affect the intestine.
In the study, the team found that using the app for eight weeks led to improvements in health-related quality of life, fewer gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, and less anxiety about visceral sensations, benefits that participants maintained three months later.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on changing the thought process and behavior around a specific illness. In the case of IBS, this could mean relaxation training and cognitive reframing or decatastrophizing, for example, or exposure therapy around foods and situations feared for their potential to cause gastrointestinal distress.
These treatments have proven effective for IBS, because the disorder likely results from a miscommunication between the central nervous system, which controls the brain, and the enteric nervous system, which orchestrates gastrointestinal behavior, along with something called dysbiosis, or a change in the gut microbiome.
The app itself combines education, relaxation techniques, tools to overcome physical activity aversion and information on healthy eating. The researchers believe the findings point to the need for treatment options that do not require restrictive diets or difficult-to-maintain lifestyle changes.