Diets have changed over the years and now many peoples diet consists of highly processed refined sugary foods. In addition, people are taking more medications such as antibiotics and tend to have more stressful lives which ultimately effects gut health.
The colonic microflora contains an estimated 400 different bacterial species and gut bacteria react on what you feed them. For example, a diet full of processed junk foods can lead to the creation of bad bacteria resulting in inflammation and what’s known as leaky gut where by the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged. As a consequence, undigested food and other bad bacteria can make its way to the blood stream causing inflammation and problems with the immune system. Although we are still finding new information about how the gut is linked to the immune system, the gut actually contains immune cells and so an unhealthy gut means unhealthy immune system! There is also some evidence to suggest that poor gut health can also result in craving unhealthier foods and therefore lead to higher body fat due to hormones that regulate appetite not working efficiently.
The gut performs important jobs such as breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, getting rid of waste and toxins and can also produce other nutrients too. A poorly looked after gut can therefore lead to being deficient in nutrients. Deficiencies in nutrients can then lead to digestive enzymes not functioning properly, poor immunity and many different conditions and diseases including mood disorders, skin conditions, chronic fatigue and cancers.
Eating a healthy diet containing whole unprocessed foods nourishes the gut by feeding the good bacteria. Try to eat a fibre rich diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables. In particular eat brassica vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) which are protective against cancers. They are source of the compound glucosinolates which when digested they part stay intact and pass to the colon where they are broken down and interact with cells in the colon potentially producing an anti-carcinogenic effect (preventing development of cancer).
Eat foods that improve the bacterial colony of the gut, so these would be probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and yoghurt. Yoghurt is produced by fermentation of milk by lactic acid bacteria and therefore acts as a good bacteria. Eat foods that are naturally prebiotic to feed the good bacteria and help repair the gut cell walls. Foods include: Raw Jerusalem Artichoke, garlic and onion.
In addition keep yourself physically active and try to keep stress at bay (although this is often easier said than done!).