Gut health, its all the rage right now! So where did this ‘gut health’ concept come into public interest? Lets back track about ten years ago when some studies hit the mainstream media that found that different bacteria in the gut is linked to many different conditions. Fast forward to ten years later and now everyone is talking about it! But what exactly is gut health and why is it so important?
What is gut health?
When people talk about the gut, they are referring to what’s called ‘the gut microbiome’ which is a community of over 100 trillion bacteria in the gut! We now know that our gut plays a significant role in our immune system, weight management, mood, behavior, hormonal health, brain health and digestion!
Do you experience any of the following: bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, fatigue, hormonal issues, food intolerances, aggression/irritability, difficulty focusing, and anxiety/depression? If you do this may be due to poor gut health aka ‘dysbiosis’ or you may even know it as ‘leaky gut’. Dysbiosis is when you have an imbalance of good (healthy) bacteria in the gut to bad (unhealthy bacteria) in the gut that has been found to associated in many chronic health conditions (1).
Furthermore, dysbiosis has been linked to many gut related disorders that include irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, allergies, inflammatory skin conditions, mental health disorders and even arthritis (2). These conditions are so common and it really emphasises the importance of maintaining good gut health.
What are some factors that influence your microbiome?
Did you know that your gut microbiome starts to form before you are even born?! These bacteria are transferred from the mother to the foetus. That means that your mothers gut microbiome is likely to be similar to yours! Even factors such as type of birth (natural or c- section), and the babies diet (breastfeeding or infant formula) can all affect your microbiome. It takes approximately 4 years from birth for your gut bacteria to develop and everyone has their own unique gut microbiome.
Inflammation plays a big role in causing dybiosis (poor gut health) and there are many factors that can influence your gut microbiome that include your diet, stress, sleep, environment, and even medications (eg. antibiotics)! (3).
How do I promote good gut health?
The first step in achieving good gut health is first removing any potential toxins in your diet and environment. These can be things like refined sugars and carbohydrates, processed foods, drugs, and alcohol. Also be cautious of using antibiotics unless they are absolutely required (these wreak havoc on your gut!).
I see a lot of people taking probiotics, are they useful for gut health?
Probiotics may be helpful in certain conditions (eg. gastrointestinal conditions), however they may not be necessary for every individual. One of the most overlooked things when it comes to gut health is the role that fibre in the diet plays.
What is fibre and how can it help with gut health?
Fibre is the indigestible parts of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes. It is type of a carbohydrate that helps keep our digestive systems healthy. When we eat fibre in our diet our gut produces these things called ‘short chain fatty acids’ (SCFA’s) that improve gut health and reduce inflammation.
How can hemp seeds help to promote a healthy gut?
The beauty about hemp seeds is that they are packed full of fibre! Our hemp hearts in particular contain approx. 12mg of fiber per 100gm. The current recommended daily intake (RDI) of fibre is 20-25g, so if you wanted to hit your daily fiber RDI you would only need to consume 200g of hemp hearts! We suggest eating a diet rich in a fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein and unrefined grains in conjunction with hemp seeds to get the most out of your diet and support a healthy gut.