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5 Reasons Why You Should Listen To Your Gut-Feeling

You must have experienced some kind of gut feeling or gut instincts in your life. It could have been when you decided to skip your class and it turned out to be a surprise test. Whew!

Dodged that one! It could be a bad gut feeling you had about a person sensing danger or butterflies in your stomach when you met your significant other. These are visceral sensations that you literally feel in your gut that are communicated to your brain through the gut neuron connection and certain chemical messengers.

When your gut feelings tell you something, you pay attention. It matters as much if not more when it is the case of your gut health. A healthy gut plays an integral part in your health in general. Your gut is responsible for digesting your food, absorbing nutrients, vitamin production and decrease inflammation.

The gut also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes every organ of your body that partakes in food intake and output. So the GI tract starts with your mouth as this is where the digestion of your food begins and includes your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, colon and rectum.

Now there are various factors that affect the health of your digestive tract but the lead role is played by microbiomes. Gut microbiomes are the trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes inhabiting the intestinal tract and impact the health of many of our organs. While bacteria get a bad rep, a healthy digestive system is the result of a balance between good and bad bacteria.

Your gut governs most organs.

Here are 5 areas of your health governed by your own gut:

A. Metabolism: The gut microbiome, known as the second brain, facilitates metabolism by ensuring digestion and absorbing nutrients for energy and normal body functioning. Good bacteria are essential for nutrient absorption and intestinal health. When the gut microbiome is unhealthy, the human body lacks various nutrients, including important vitamins and essential amino acids. In addition, it will affect the body’s metabolism rate, and the imbalance level will decrease immunity, induce fatigue, damage mental health, provoke mood changes, depression and stress.

B. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of heart and blood vessels condition that include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other ailments. CVDs are the leading source of death worldwide, taking around 17.9 million lives each year.

As expected the health of your cardiovascular and digestive systems appears to be connected. One point of connection between the two has to do with metabolites, substances the gut produces when breaking down particular foods. One particular gut metabolite, trimethylamine (TMA), is created when the gut breaks down ‘choline’, a nutrient found in red meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. TMA is transformed into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) in the liver. TMAO is associated with forming artery-clogging plaque. People with high TMAO levels in their blood are more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Research suggests that the wrong balance in the gut microbiota can affect your blood vessels, high blood pressure, lower levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

C. Diabetes: There are around 537 million adults aged 20 to 79 years old who are suffering from diabetes. This number is expected to reach around 543 million by 2030. So, it is unsurprising to find that diabetes is one of the fastest-growing diseases.

Some of the factors associated with its rapid advance include lifestyle, family history or genetics, stress and environmental conditions. Recent studies indicate diabetes is also directly affected by our gut health, referring to the interdependence between gut bacteria and diabetes. A study found that one kind of bacteria in the gut may advance Type 2 diabetes, while another may defend against the disease. Dysbiosis or imbalance in the gut microbiome has been associated with metabolic disorders like obesity, decreased glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and diabetes.

A fibrous diet can manage diabetes and aid in the prevention of the disease as fibre performs as a prebiotic with the ability to multiply the good bacteria.

D. Immune system: Your immune system is responsible for detecting and responding to injuries or injections. Your gut houses over 70% of immune cells that defend the human body from harmful pathogen attacks. These immune cells interact with gut microbiomes in both directions. When you suffer from any kind of inflammation, cells in the irritated region send signals to specialised immune cells to fight and heal the damage. A diverse gut microbiome and a strong immune system are affected by your diet and lifestyle. This is because the foods you consume form the diversity and composition of bacteria in your gut, affecting the immune cells. As our world is brimming with infections and environmental pollution, it has damaged our immune systems. So when you provide your body with nutritious foods that are rich in fibre, your gut is healthy and can sustain a strong immunity system. An unhealthy gut leads to a poor immune system that is associated with conditions like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. It also makes for a poor quality of life. Therefore, the composition of your gut dictates your immune system.

E. Brain: Your gut is attuned to your mental and emotional health. For instance, the mere thought of eating may cause the release of the stomach’s juices before the food even reaches there. This connection between your gut and your brain is reciprocal.

A distressed gut can send signals to the brain and the same goes for a troubled brain delivering signals to the gut. Hence, an individual’s gut issues can be either the cause or the product of emotional disorders such as anxiety, stress, or depression. Moreover, oftentimes people with functional GI diseases experience pain more intensely as their brains are more receptive to pain signals from the gut. So stress can exacerbate the prevailing pain.

The gut bacteria also affect various neurotransmitters and strengthen our body’s response to stress. Furthermore, the gut produces 95% of the total body's serotonin, the feel-good hormone. It is clear that the brain and the gut are intimately connected.

Several experts conclude that the gut is the second brain of the body. Unfortunately, four out of ten adults in the world suffer from functional gastrointestinal disorders of varying severity. A poor diet added to a sedentary lifestyle is the cause of gastrointestinal diseases like constipation, diarrhoea, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Gallstones, Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), haemorrhoids as well as cancer of liver and gallbladder. These digestive issues can terribly affect your quality of life and can even be fatal at times.

Find out simple yet effective ways you can keep your gut health in our upcoming article “HOW TO BOOST GUT HEALTH?”

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