Feeding Your Gut

Did you know that your digestive system is simply a lengthened donut shaped tube inside you? Just picture a donut placed flat over your lips where the donut hole opens into your mouth. Stretching the donut down to your esophagus, expanding to form your stomach, then extending into a long tube of intestines where the other end is a hole in your derriere completes your digestive tract. This prolonged donut tube is a very important membrane that comes into contact with not only your food but many microorganisms too protecting the rest of your body from them. The presence of certain living organisms around these membranes can lead to having bad breath, a sore throat or stomach ulcers. 

An important part of our anatomy where tiny living organisms inhabit is inside our large intestine called our gut flora. A portion of these microbes are beneficial synthesizing vitamin K and B for our body to utilize. A healthy flora contains a balance of good and bad microorganisms that live harmoniously to help our digestive system. Our gut microbiome also has a strong connection to our immunity and brain. An imbalanced gut flora is when bad microbes overpopulate the good ones resulting in inflammation where the immune system is activated. If inflammation continues, a damaged colon membrane may follow leading to other problems in the body. 

Every individual has a distinctive diet creating a unique profile of living organisms inside their intestinal colon. These living cells soon multiply feeding on and helping breakdown the remaining indigestible material of food they are exposed to. Locals tend to have a different reaction after eating a meal from their area compared to a foreign traveller. The foreigner’s digestive juices, enzymes and gut flora are not accustomed to these new foods where indigestion like gas, bloating and diarrhea may occur. Even the act of changing to a healthier diet may have an effect on one’s digestion. Strong cravings for past foods may be due to the gut flora desiring what they were normally feeding on. It’s best to go slow, eating small portions when introducing new foods from time to time.

Probiotics are gaining popularity to maintain a healthy gut by ingesting beneficial live microorganisms found in these supplements. However, without a proper diet, these supplemented living organisms will never take root and thrive on its own inside your colon requiring more supplementation. So what is a “proper diet”? Eat a vast array of food! Rotate an assortment of foods in your diet making the majority of your intake high in fiber. Fiber is a prebiotic that the good microbes eat to survive populating your gut while keeping the bad organisms in check. The numerous varieties of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are all great high fiber prebiotic sources to help digestion and keep your bowels moving. By being regular, a balanced intestinal flora is maintained to remove excess unhealthy microorganisms with your waste. To receive probiotics naturally in your diet, consume more fermented foods that contain live beneficial bacteria like sauerkraut, tempeh, raw cheese and kombucha. 

Just remember the type of foods you choose to nourish your body also nourish the population of good and bad microbes growing inside your colon. What does your diet consist mostly of? A nutritious diet maintains a well-balanced flora along with a healthy digestive membrane and body overall. 

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant