The power of your bowel!
Not many people understand the power that we hold in our bowel. Most have heard of ‘friendly bacteria’ via advertisements on the television. Unfortunately this advertising is usually for products that have been pasteurised and often contain added sugar, reducing their benefit. However housed within our bowel is the most complex of ecosystems known. There are 10 fold more bacteria than we have human cells. Under the microscope it is hard to differentiate where bacteria end and self begins. It is a hive of activity taking place in there - the microbes collectively known as the ‘microbiota’, in the nutrition world it is known as ‘the second brain’. Each person has their own unique composition, as unique as our fingerprint.
The interactions and interconnectivity between the bowel and the other body systems are immense and continuous. Providing a perfect control site for an educated approach to modulate health. Few people consider this.
Since when would your GP refer you to a gastroenterologist if you visited them for depression? Epilepsy? Autism? Eczema? The list goes on and on! Modulation of the microbiota directly affects the distant systems within the body, because the microbes all have specific roles to perform within metabolism. For example there is more serotonin synthesised in the bowel than there is in the brain. Vitamins that feed into energy production are produced there. The majority of our immune system is within the bowel, the microbiota make up a healthy GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue) forming an internal first line of defence against foreign invaders. The microbiota also finalise digestion of large carbohydrates such as fibre, they provide an environment resistant to colonisation of pathogens, among many other actions. We have a symbiotic relationship with our microbiota each totally dependent on the other for maintenance of homeostasis and therefore survival.
Science is discovering more and more about this unseen world on a daily basis. But one thing is already known for sure, we need to support, value and respect this amazing ecosystem for how it services us. Try to eat a rainbow of colours, both soluble and insoluble fibre, fermented probiotic foods, avoid simple carbohydrates, such as junk food and sugar, and if you feel unwell, unhappy or without energy, consider nutritional therapy as a supportive role to regain balance.
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About Clelia Gwynne-Evans
Clelia Gwynne-Evans is a fully qualified nutritional therapist registered with BANT and CNHC practising in St Ives Cambridgeshire.