Let’s revisit some lessons from biology that we learnt in school. To understand gut health, it is first important to understand how our bodies process food.
What exactly is Gut?
The gut is basically our gastrointestinal tract. It runs all the way from the mouth, and ends at the anus from where the waste is excreted.
How does food travel in the Gut?
Once you chew the food, the enzymes in your mouth half digest it. This semi-solid food then travels through the esophagus into your stomach. The stomach is like a hollow sac and it breaks down the food both physically as well as chemically, with the help of acids and enzymes present in it. The acid in your stomach helps in killing the harmful bacteria and germs, which enter the stomach along with the food.
After the food is broken down, it is passed on to the small intestine. This is one of the most important organs in our body and controls most of our health.
Our small intestine has trillions of gut bacteria (both good and bad) and other microorganisms, which together is known as the Gut Flora, or Microbiome.
With the help of the gut bacteria, the small intestine works on absorbing nutrients from the digested food. So, the chemical breakdown of food that started in the mouth, actually ends here.
What does the Large Intestine do?
Once the food is digested in the small intestine, the digestive waste is passed on to the large intestine (also known as Colon). This is the tube which runs from the end of small intestine, to the anus.
Large intestine absorbs vitamins, minerals etc from the digestive waste, and helps in maintaining the fluid content of our body. It also converts this waste into faeces (poop), to be finally excreted through the anus.
All in all, to a large extent, gut bacteria and hormones decide how flourishing our internal system is.
Somebody could have a lean body and the perfect abs, but could actually be low on immunity and prone to diseases, if the diet he/she has been eating is not conducive for the healthy gut bacteria to thrive. Yes, it’s very much possible!
Most of the dieting and weight loss methods that are prevalent today do not support the way our body is designed to function and flourish. One can lose weight by simply falling sick, or through calorie restriction and hours of muscle training, or even by going on starvation diets, all of which are NOT a guarantee of optimum internal health!
Unhealthy or unbalanced gut can trigger hormonal imbalances, obesity, and lifestyle related diseases like Thyroid, PCOD, Heart diseases, Autoimmune diseases, Type-2 Diabetes, Hypertension and more.
Gut Health is also closely linked with our brain, and hence an imbalanced gut can also cause unexplained anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, brain fog etc.