Top vegetables for liver health
We suggest the following 5 vegetables for improving liver health and function:
Dandelion: is mostly known as a herb; however, it is superb for liver function. The root can be made into a coffee while the leaves can be used up in a salad or smoothie.
Jerusalem artichoke: contain inulin which is a complex carbohydrate not broken down by the body. It promotes liver regeneration and stimulate bile flow. The artichoke must be fresh, otherwise the inulin breaks down into sugars. Inulin nourishes bifidobacteria.
Fennel: it aids digestion and prevents flatulence. Helps the liver to work less.
Onion: versatile containing bioflavonoids, calcium, and sulphur. Key in cholesterol and blood sugar health.
Garlic: nutrient powerhouse, and possibly the most useful. Not only antiviral and antibacterial but also widely used against parasites, worms, moulds, yeast. It is a must in any detox programmes.
Beneficial supplements for liver health
We suggest the following 4 supplements for liver health and support:
Glutathione: major antioxidant in the body produced in the liver. Key role in liver detoxification.
B – Complex: all B vitamins are needed and used by the liver. They are involved in both phases of the liver detoxification process. B vitamins work in synergy and so it is recommended to take the complex. Lack of these will lead to fatigue, mental, and emotional problems.
Zinc: a co-enzyme for SOD enzyme.
Magnesium: involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions.
Author: Anita Andor, Nutritional Therapist
Did you know iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world?
According to the World Health Organisation more than 40% of the world’s population suffers from iron deficiency! Haemoglobin – Iron has an essential role carrying this protein in red blood cells most importantly transporting oxygen in the body. Iron seems to be the most common deficiency found mostly in women which can be from pregnancy, large blood loss and heavy menstrual periods. Insufficient intake of iron can cause anaemia, here’s the sign you should look out for:
- Brittle Fingernails – thin flat nails that can break easily.
- Fatigue – the most common symptom due to the lack of red blood cells transporting oxygen around the body. You will feel weak and more tired than usual.
- Dizziness –‘seeing stars’ as they say , this occurs when not enough oxygen reaches the brain and may cause headaches.
- Shortness of Breath – due to a low iron level less oxygen reaches parts of the body, if the body’s oxygen level is low it will cause shortness of breath.
- Damaged Hair – apart from using too many heat tools on your locks, dry fragile hair can be a result of the lack of iron
- Pale Skin – Lack of red blood cells can cause your skin to look washed out, the more haemoglobin there is the more your skin will look plump and rosy.
The easiest way to check is requesting a Red Blood Cell count at your GP. NHS informs that a normal count for men would be a guide of 4.0 – 5.9 and woman 3.8 -5.2. If you are lower than average your doctor will prescribe you to take iron supplements. In the meantime, include plenty of iron rich foods for example leafy greens, beef, sardines, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and fortified cereals.
We recommend our Vitamunda Iron formula – liposomal – Lemon Well Med Health Supplements where the liposomal ensure better absorption and also prevents stomach upsets connected to iron supplementation.
HEALTH HACKS ON HOW TO GET BACK ON TRACK AFTER THE FESTIVE SEASON
Have you overindulged during the festive season? And oh no, we don’t just mean Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is the whole of December to blame for! Christmas work parties, year-end goodbyes and so on…
We heard you want some health hacks on how to get back on track!
Cut out alcohol
Aim to do at least four weeks of dry January; make it February too!
January is the perfect month to start with good habits, and if it is too difficult to do so, it is a good idea to ask why? What is the root cause for not being able to do heavy periods for longer? There might be emotional reasons.
Wrap up and go for a walk (in daylight)
Yes, it is cold, super cold, but you are burning more calories. That is because the body works harder to maintain a core temperature. The cooler temperature also boosts brain function and activates the immune system to fight off pathogens.
Stay away from eating out
While it feels a treat not spending time at home cooking, many restaurants, especially fast food places, offer dishes that use poor-quality ingredients and are incredibly high in trans fats. Trans fats are associated with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, etc.
Eliminate inflammatory foods
Overconsumption of processed and refined foods such as pastries, cookies, bread, dairy products, soft drinks, takeaways, and deep-fried products are the main contributors to inflammation triggered by food intake. Eliminate them for one to two months. You might just leave them behind for good!
One week winter cleanse
Challenge yourself further by trying out a cleansing programme with bone broth, cooked vegetable soups, and legume-based dishes to give the digestive system a break. Consult with a nutritionist to ensure you are not missing essential nutrients!
The Vitamunda Digestion Programme is the perfect partner to support your cleanse. It consists of enzymes, probiotics, and other vital nutrients involved in gut healing protocols.
“Resilience is to always be true to yourself”
Definition of resilience: the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity or major life changes.
This is what you read when you look at this word up on the dictionary: a straightforward, simple and impersonal explanation.
However, abstract words carry a deeper meaning, an emotional meaning which varies from person to person.
Resilience is hard to be defined with words. It can only be explained based on how you feel when you think resilience. Feelings are hard to be put into words. They cannot be labelled or put into categories.
Only you know the true meaning of this word.
So here is what it means to me:
Resilience is to stay the course when you know that you make decisions and choices based on the circumstances and information that you have in any now moment.
Resilience is to know what is best for you and therefore having the courage to say no or yes to others.
Resilience is to resist the noises that come from the outside world, especially the noises that create fear.
Resilience is to listen to others with your heart and your intuition so you know what to accept and what to ignore.
Resilience is to trust yourself, to believe in yourself regardless of what is going on around you. Your circumstances should lead the way in any now moment.
Resilience is to surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart.
Surround yourself with people who encourage you, motivate you, support you to achieve your goals whatever they may be.
Resilience is to know that when life happens in a way that you didn’t expect it or even when you didn’t want it to happen in a certain way, you know that there is always the next now moment whereby you can do things differently to get the results you want.
Above all, it is to always be true to yourself.
I’m aware that this is how I feel when I think about it. I’m also aware that all I’ve written here may or may not resonate with you.
It doesn’t really matter.
What matters is how you feel when you think resilience.
So let’s take action right now.
Be aware of how you feel when you think about it and remind yourself how you feel about it as often as you need.
If you are wondering how you do this, I can tell that you do it by feeling it.
If you like this blog and would like to have a chat with me, go on my website and sign up for a Free Consultation at:
Author: Regina Brancato-Dunderdale – BA, NLP Master Practitioner, Master Hypnotherapist and Time Line Therapy®
Read also my other blog about the connection between mind and body.
We all heard that fibre and probiotics intake plays a fundamental role in restoring gut health, but what more can we do?
We can make many small and simple changes to naturally improve gut function without drugs that thin the gut lining and only temporarily mask the root cause. We all need a road map that we can act upon to achieve meaningful changes. While this is not a personalised plan, it is a great starting point to optimal gut health.
The Art of Eating:
The way we choose to eat is somewhat reflexive. We don’t think about that; we just do it. We assume that our bodies have it easy in breaking down food. We couldn’t be further from the truth.
Chewing food properly is one of the simplest changes you can incorporate into your daily life. Why chewing is so important? Firstly, it kick starts digestive enzymes production and secondly, it ensures larger particles are broken down into smaller pieces. These aspects are essential to ensure we reduce stress on the oesophagus and the stomach. Bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, and food intolerances are widespread culprits when larger food particles reach the digestive organs.
Being in a relaxed environment and with a relaxed mindset is more important than you think! Grabbing food on the go and answering emails and messages are the most common habits that are not serving our digestive health. The opposite of Fight or Flight is Rest and Digest. The parasympathetic system decreases our heart rate, alertness, and muscle tone during this response. Digestion is stimulated.
We want to have a good amount of hydrochloric acid, pancreatic juices, and bile. The lack of digestive juices results in undigested food, and we not only become vitamin and mineral deficient and invite a host of more serious health conditions. Chewing food while in a Rest and Digest mode is the first step. Consuming ginger, apple cider vinegar, bitter green leafy veggies and, in some cases, foods high in histamine is sufficient. Some people require more help, and we may need to use supplements such as betaine HCL with pepsin, zinc, and B complex.
The idea here is that we should not mix foods that challenge each other. This eases the digestion process as well as ensures more varied food options.
- Starchy foods such as bread and potatoes are not to be combined with heavy proteins such as meat and cheese. Why? Protein is mainly digested in the stomach, while starchy carbs are absorbed in the small intestine. Protein digestion takes much longer than starchy carbs, which means fermentation kicks in, resulting in gas and indigestion.
- Avoid mixing proteins and fats together. Fat inhibits digestive juices needed to break down protein and digested in the small intestine. Fried foods such as bacon and eggs are very poor food combinations.
- Avoid carbohydrates with acid fruits in the same meal. A tomato sandwich is a perfect example. Bread is broken down in the mouth in an alkaline environment. Brining in an acidic food reduces the effect of the enzyme.
Pairing the right foods together is one of the most beneficial ways to improve small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Remove Toxins and Pathogens
Unwanted invaders come in many forms. The body produces toxins internally (endogenous) as part of the daily biochemical processes, and also we ingest them. External toxins (exogenous) are alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, medicines, additives, preservatives, etc.
Pathogens very often get into our bodies through drinking and eating. However, sometimes we are not aware of it, as we do not present with symptoms. Therefore, it is good to test to have an accurate landscape on which pathogen or pathogens cause the issues. Then, the protocol is formulated depending on the type of pathogen (bacteria, fungi, parasite, virus).
The human body is primarily made up of water. We cannot survive without water for longer than five days. When we are young, intracellular fluid (inside the cell) is much higher than extracellular fluid (outside the cell). As we age, this ratio shifts and our cell’s ability to absorb water decreases and can be dehydrated. Discussing the functions and role of water in the human body is outside the scope of this article.
- Coffee, tea and alcohol are all diuretics. Always drink 1-2 glasses of water when you consume these drinks.
- Fruits and vegetables generally have high water content. For example, tomatoes and lettuce are 95% water, while melons, oranges, broccoli, and carrots are 90% water. So go wild with consuming the rainbow!
- The purity of the water is paramount. If your budget does not support installing a water filtration system in your home, go for a simple Brita Jug and add charcoal sticks to it to get double filtration.
Constipation increases the risk of faecal toxins passing into the bloodstream and recirculating. Additionally, it changes the gut microbiome composition. Methane producing bacteria is more prevalent, which further slows transit time. There are some simple changes to improve bowel function:
- Increase fibre and water consumption. Bulking up and softening the stool are both widespread solutions to address constipation.
- Moderate cardio exercise stimulates the bowels. Constipation loves a sedentary lifestyle.
- Supplement with magnesium (600-800mg daily). Magnesium stimulates muscle movement.
The human body uses up about 50% of its energy for digestion. Regular fasting resets the body by redirecting that energy to other biochemical processes. Therefore, when we are unwell with no appetite, we must listen to our bodies and refrain from eating. A licensed alternative practitioner should supervise longer fasts (over 48 hours). All toxins are mobilised into the bloodstream from fat tissue during a fast, which is unpredictable. I invite you to watch our webinar on belly fat and fasting to learn how and when to do fasting safely. Our previous blog post Gut Microbiome and human health is also very informative and useful to read.
There are a lot of misconceptions and uninformed views behind some of the most popular trends and diets. However, the above recommendations are safe, simple, and effective. Put them in practice today!
Author: Anita Andor
Women’s Health Specialist
mBANT Nutritional Therapist
Do I really need to feel like this? Should I test or not? What should I do to feel good again? How hormonal imbalance impacts women? If you struggle with hormonal imbalance symptoms, you may well ask these questions and many more, day in and day out.
Women are taught that it is normal to experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to painful levels. I don’t share this view. None of us should have bitter experiences of PMS, period, or menopause. The pain usually indicates underlying issues that need looking into. Did you know that there are over 150 symptoms were identified as part of our PMS package? The most common ones are bloating, mood changes, headaches, food cravings, fluid retention, and fatigue. I want you to know you can have control over your symptoms.
Understanding the female cycle, the hormonal pathways, and how the different body systems are affected are key learning points to achieve hormonal balance. Furthermore, what is normal for one woman may not be normal for another. Two women may present with the same symptoms, yet different hormones are out of balance.
I can honestly say I love being on my period. I am happy, energised, and feeling a good release with it! It took me a while to get to this stage, but it was worth the journey.
Care to join me to master the works of hormones and understand how hormonal imbalance impact women? A resounding YES, I am hearing!
Hormones are chemical messengers transported in the blood, targeting cells to facilitate communication; as a result, the target cells are equipped with receptors. Hormonal signalling works using a lock (receptor) and key (hormone) system. This is important because hormones can only do their job where there are receptors. Light-bulb moment, yet? That’s why some parts of our bodies are safe and sound from hormonal chaos because it is a receptor free zone! Both the hormones and receptors need certain nutrients to work; hence, nutrient deficiencies are common causes of hormonal imbalance.
Hormones need regulation which is done via feedback loops. This means the hormone controls its own production. Most hormones use negative feedback mechanisms to keep the levels within a narrow range, while during positive feedback, the hormone feeds back to increase its production. Check the examples out below:
Hormones are produced by glands receiving executive orders from the hypothalamus with the help of the pituitary gland. They exert either a stimulating or inhibiting effect.
Why Cholesterol is a big deal?
Cholesterol is the precursor to steroid hormone production, such as progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen. Therefore, too low or high cholesterol levels leads to hormonal deficiency or overload.
Here is a simplified version of the steroid hormone pathways with the corresponding enzymes.
Let’s unravel how hormonal imbalance impacts women, shall we?
Firstly, What can go wrong?
- under or overproduction of hormones
- production of faulty hormones
- poor circulation
- faulty feedback process
- insufficient breaking down and elimination
- faulty receptors
An increase in prostaglandins may cause food to pass through the digestive tract too quickly and increase the electrolyte secretions resulting in diarrhoea and nausea.
Stress and weak adrenals
I don’t need to tell you how bad things can get with chronic stress and why holistic practitioners care about adrenal support so much. Cortisol is highest at around 8am, then it gradually decreases, so we wind down. It is a stress hormone and goes up regardless of whether we are in real danger – such as running from a predator – or perceived stress, such as a job interview. Therefore, the body prefers to manufacture cortisol rather than sex hormones to protect our lives in many stressful situations. In functional medicine, call this “cortisol steal”. Sadly, cortisol resistance exists, and we must take it very seriously!
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) insufficiency result in anovulatory cycles, while low progesterone levels may increase miscarriage risk. Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are often diagnosed as the main cause for infertility.
Depression, anxiety, and brain fog are well-known for those who struggle with thyroid dysregulation, adrenal weakness, and low progesterone levels. The endocrine system constantly talks to the nervous system to ensure homeostasis, a physiological equilibrium.
Most people only think about thyroid issues regarding weight management issues, and it can go both ways with thyroid. Let’s not forget leptin – a peptide hormone produced by fat cells – patrolling in the bloodstream and acting on the brain to regulate food intake and energy expenditure. That is not the end of it, though! Insulin, testosterone, Cortisol, Estrogen, and Ghrelin are also key players.
Having suffered from acne for over 10 years, I can proudly say I know a lot about getting that glow back on your face! Most women in my virtual clinic presented with acne due to increased dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the bad form of testosterone.
Low libido is predominant mainly amongst women between 40-55. This is because sex hormones begin to drop around this time, approaching menopause. Estrogen looks after the vagina’s tissue health. While testosterone is much needed for arousal and interest. Excessive stress leads to progesterone converting to cortisol instead of testosterone.
All of the above can be balanced with the right food, lifestyle, and supplement interventions; addressing hormonal imbalance as soon as known is necessary. The longer it is left unattended, the harder it will be to achieve homeostasis. The human body is pre-programmed to self-regulate itself by an internal feedback system that balances and stabilises our hormones and other biochemical processes. Homeostasis is health.
We hope you have enjoyed this journey to understand how hormonal imbalance impacts women.
Author: Anita Andor, nutritional therapist
Magnesium fact sheet
How do I get magnesium in my body? By eating the right variety of foods, it is possible to meet your recommended daily intake for levels of magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral, and we need a certain amount of magnesium to maintain healthy energy levels, relax muscles including the heart, regulate the nervous system which helps improve anxiety, elevate mood and improve sleep quality.
Causes of magnesium deficiency vary from lack of dietary intake, diabetes, poor absorption, chronic diarrhoea, celiac disease and hungry bone syndrome. People with alcoholism are also at an increased risk. Magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesemia, is an overlooked health problem because deficiency is often underdiagnosed due to the obvious signs not appearing until levels become severely low.
The RDA amount of magnesium you need is 300mg a day for men (19 to 64 years) and 270mg a day for women (19 to 64 years). Source: NHS
Good sources of magnesium
Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods; the richest sources are seeds and nuts, especially almonds and pumpkin seeds. Other relatively magnesium rich foods include spinach and other leafy green vegetables, wholemeal bread, whole grains, dark chocolate, popcorn, fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods, milk, yogurt and some other milk products.
Sea water is naturally rich in minerals, including magnesium, so vegetables that grow in or near the sea, such as kelp, contain generous amounts of this mighty mineral. Choose foods that are whole and unprocessed, minimise your intake of refined sugar, especially from refined foods, because it can lead to increased excretion of magnesium from the body, therefore quickly depleting the stores needed for optimal health.
Avoid alcohol because it can interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin D and other essential nutrients, which in turn affects magnesium absorption. Fizzy drinks are associated with low magnesium levels, instead drink coconut water which is naturally rich in magnesium and other electrolytes to keep you well hydrated.
Boost your magnesium intake
How do I get magnesium in my body? You may need to supplement with extra magnesium in tablet or powder form if low magnesium levels, or feel you are not getting enough magnesium from foods. Choose Lipsomal Magnesium capsules because the powder form is purer and free from additives, fillers and chemical substances. Liposomal form supplements are absorbed up to 20x better than regular supplements, meaning you can take lower doses, because the active ingredients aren’t destroyed in the stomach and arrive intact at the site of action.
Use as a daily moisturiser with added health benefits and rich hydration such as Magnesium Skin Body Butter. It will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and leaves healthier-looking skin as well as relive aches, pains, headaches, migraines and relive stress too. If you suffer from skin conditions, try Good Health Naturally’s Ancient Magnesium Oil.
The German health care system pays for patients to travel to The Dead Sea, which is extremely high in magnesium salts, for psoriasis treatment.
Choose a high quality one-a-day Multivitamin Multimineral Capsule that contains forms of nutrients that the body can recognise and use efficiently. Obtaining vitamins and minerals from diet alone can be tricky with depleted soils and our bodies in ever-fluctuating state of stress and poor health, so a multivitamin is good to keep you fully balanced.
It is important to optimise gut health to ensure maximum benefits of digestion and nutrient absorption with a probiotic such has Superbiotics. Maintaining optimal levels of friendly bacteria can help to ensure magnesium gets absorbed and used efficiently within the body.
What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?
The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are usually subtle unless your levels become severely low. They include chronic and prolonged fatigue, poor sleep, poor recovery from exercise, anxiety and mood disorders, low immunity, muscle cramps, quivery tongue, mental health conditions, irregular heartbeat and osteoporosis. A lack of magnesium increases the risk of high blood pressure, celiac disease and heart disease.
If you are experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency, you should seek medical advice and request a blood test to confirm if you have a magnesium deficiency or any issues with your blood sugar. If you have a health condition that causes your body to lose magnesium, it is important to eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods or take magnesium supplements.
Whatever the outcome, try to regularly eat plenty of magnesium-rich whole foods, such as nuts, seeds, grains or beans, because all these foods are high in healthy nutrients, so including them in your diet not only lowers your risk of magnesium deficiency, but will also support your overall health.
Check out our full range of magnesium products which are all made with the highest grade, certified non-GMO ingredients of the purest quality and are vegan friendly: https://lemonwellmed.co.uk/health-products/product-category/magnesium/
People who do not get enough magnesium in their diets should consider taking supplements but note that taking high doses of magnesium (more than 400mg) for a short time can cause diarrhoea.
Be careful with tannins (tea), oxalates (raw spinach) and phytic acid (wholegrains) because these can bind with magnesium, making it unavailable to the body. We recommend that you herbal teas, cook spinach gently and look for organic, stone ground, sprouted or sour dough wholegrain breads for best results.
Lipoic acid fact sheet
How does lipoic acid work in the body? Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an organic compound made in the body that acts as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants fight ‘free radicals’ which cause harmful chemical reactions that can damage organs, tissues and cells, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. It is found in every cell where it serves vital functions at the cellular level, such as energy production, because it helps turn glucose into energy.
Alpha-lipoic acid is both water soluble and fat soluble, allowing it to work in every cell or tissue in the body. Most other antioxidants are either water or fat soluble, for instance, vitamin C is only water soluble, while vitamin E is only fat soluble.
Good sources of alpha lipoic acid
Your body naturally produces alpha-lipoic acid, but only in small amounts. It’s found in a variety of foods but, however according to WebMD, ‘food does not appear to produce a noticeable increase in the level of free ALA in the body’, so we would recommend an alpha lipoic acid supplementation because they can pack up to 1,000 times more alpha-lipoic acid than food sources.
Animal products like red meat and organ meats such as kidney, liver and heart are great sources, but alpha-lipoic can also be found in plant foods like green peas, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, yam, potatoes, carrots, beets, sprouts and rice bran.
Our range of dietary supplements includes Liposomal R-Alpha-Lipoic Acid, which is combined with vitamin C to support the immune system better. It helps the liver eliminate toxic substances, it’s a great source of energy and it fights free radicals and reduces oxidative stress.
Alpha R Lipoic Acid is good for blood sugar balance, supports the pancreatic function, supports peripheral nerve function as well as being an antioxidant and free radical neutraliser. There are no set dosage requirements, most evidence suggests that 300–600 mg is sufficient and safe as a daily dose. Higher doses are not recommended, as there is no evidence that they provide extra benefits
Benefits of alpha lipoic acid
Studies show that the properties of alpha-lipoic acid have been linked to many benefits including lowering blood sugar levels, lowering the incidence of blood pressure, reducing inflammation and improving nerve function. Lipoic acid also attacks waste products created when the body turns food into energy.
Research suggests using alpha acid in the treatment of weight loss, memory, heart health conditions including heart disease, skin health in particular reducing aging skin, treating HIV and diabetes gave positive results. Here we look at some of the benefits in more detail:
Diabetes – ALA has become popular as a potential aid for people with diabetic symptoms due to lowering blood sugar levels. It works by promoting processes that can remove fat that accumulates in muscle cells, which would otherwise make insulin resistant or less effective. It is proven to ease symptoms of nerve damage and lower the risk of diabetic eye damage (retinopathy) that can occur with uncontrolled diabetes, and alpha-lipoic acid may lower the risk of diabetes complications generally.
Weight loss – Research shows that ALA may affect weight loss. In a US randomized controlled trial, long-term LA supplementation resulted in slight BMI loss, greater antioxidant enzyme synthesis and less potential for inflammation in overweight adults.
Skin health – ALA benefits for skin improvements are thought to come from its high antioxidant content, because an antioxidant is a molecule that protects your cells from damage by donating electrons to potentially the dangerous free radical molecules. Research has found that topical ALA results in an almost complete reduction of fine lines around the eyes and upper lip in most of the participants.
Alpha lipoic acid side effects
Alpha-lipoic acid is generally considered safe with very few possible side effects. In some cases, people may experience mild symptoms like nausea, rashes or itching, but these would cease once the supplement is no longer taken.
Children and pregnant women should not take supplements unless advised to do so by their healthcare provider as there maybe risk factors involved. If you have diabetes and want to try alpha-lipoic acid, speak to your health care professional first, as the effect of alpha lipoic you interfere with other medications.
Check out our full range of Vitamunda liposomal supplements which are all made with the highest grade, certified non-GMO ingredients of the purest quality and are vegan friendly.
How does the gut Microbiome influence human health?
How does the gut microbiome influence health? Most people think of the gut as the stomach on its own, but the gastrointestinal tract begins from the mouth through the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, and rectum to the anal sphincter. Each of these parts has a different role in health, including transportation, digestion, absorption, and elimination of the ingested substances to provide our bodies with crucial nutrients for life.
The gut microbiome consists of various microorganisms living in a mutually beneficial relationship with the human body. On good days! They call this a symbiotic relationship with the host. It is important to mention that gut microbiome and gut microbiota are used interchangeably, although they mean different things. Microbiome refers to the microorganisms and their genes, whereas microbiota refers to the microbes themselves.
We are unique…
Our nutritional demands and the make-up of our gut microbiome are as unique as our appearances. No two individuals share the same microbiome, just like our fingerprints. Therefore, understanding the correct amount of nutrients we need is the first, and possibly, the most critical step towards feeling vibrant and energetic. This article aims to examine how the gut microbiome affects human health and diseases.
What we currently know
According to more recent research, the human-bacterial ratio stands at 1:1, which means we have about the same number of bacteria in our bodies as human cells. Older theories claimed that bacteria outnumber human cells.
As new-borns, we are sterile, so the diversity of microorganisms depends on the environment at the time of delivery and feeding, the mother microbiome pre and postnatal, and antibiotics use. The adult gut flora is developed by the age of 3 years. Some stay with us till the end of our lives; others undergo rapid transitions. As a result, the microbial strains we house differ between environments and populations. For example, digesting seaweed by Europeans is more challenging than by Asian people.
What is the hype about these tiny creatures?
Beneficial bacteria metabolise nutrients and drugs for us, protect us against pathogens, modulate and train the immune system, produce short-chain fatty acids from fibre, produce vitamins, and support the structural integrity of the gut mucosal barrier. When something goes wrong with the microbes, something goes wrong with us too! Westernisation, urbanisation, and the increased consumption of processed foods and exposure to antimicrobial drugs result in the development of dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis, an imbalance of microorganisms in the intestines, has been associated with many debilitating diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, and allergic conditions. Obesity is also very relevant. In the dysbiotic gut flora, the harmful microbes overtake the beneficial ones and manifest in various digestive complaints such as bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, and constipation. Additionally, harmful bacteria release endotoxins which compromise the integrity of the intestines leading to permeability. The long term consequences of dysbiosis lead to more systemic issues in other parts of the body, such as the nervous, endocrine, and immune system.
Over 70% of the gut microbiota lives in the large intestine.
The predominant species are Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. The Firmicutes: Bacteroidetes ratio gives us an indication of the risks of obesity and IBD. Sometimes bacteria dislocate in larger quantities into the small intestine, resulting in small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
An old and common way to prepare food is by fermentation, a natural process of the microorganisms converting sugar and starch into alcohol and acids in the absence of oxygen. For example, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced by bacterial fermentation from non-digestible dietary fibre. Fibre increases the diversity of the gut microbiome and increases intestinal motility, reducing the number of gas-forming bacterial species. The microbes also use prebiotics, plant material and proteins that are non-digestible or can’t be broken down by us due to the lack of enzyme or issues with absorption to produce metabolites.
The three major SCFAs are butyrate, acetate, and propionate. The number of carbohydrates, intestinal gasses, and the pH of the colon are the main factors that influence their production.
Why are SCFAs so important?
Because they are heavily involved in energy metabolism, appetite regulation, gut motility, and neurotransmitter production, which affect our mood and relaxation. Depression, social behaviour, and cognitive function are also affected. Evidence suggests that there is bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain via the vagus nerve. Healthy individuals with a healthy gut mostly feel happy, energised, and looking forward to the day.
Feeding with fermentation
Our gut loves fermented foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tofu. They contain probiotics which are the beneficial bacteria themselves. Prebiotics are plant fibre that are feeding the good guys. The intake of both of these offers health benefits to the host only if consumed in adequate amounts. Carefully evaluating the appropriate strains and mixture is crucial for a compromised gut. For example, individuals with histamine dysregulation issues may worsen their condition by ingesting certain bacterial species as they further stimulate histamine production.
So, how does the gut microbiome influence health? While we know that the composition of the gut microbiota has a significant role in how we feel, research in this area and the immune system presents more open questions than any other aspects of human health. It is undeniable that dietary pattern has a pivotal role in the gut microbiota composition. Unhealthy food choices in the long term create an environment for and invite harmful microbes to thrive.
Author: Anita Andor, nutritional therapist
Mens sana in corpore sano
A popular and widely used quote that comes from classical Latin meaning a healthy mind in a healthy body.
That is true but the opposite is also true.
When you think stress, when you behave in a stressful way, when you believe stress is what keeps you going, then your body becomes uncomfortable, not at ease and if you keep on thinking stress your body will create indigestion, ulcers, gastritis and even insomnia.
Another popular quote is “You are what you eat.”
Perhaps you know that your brain is directly connected with your digestive system through the vagus nerve.
Perhaps you have experienced feeling sluggish after having a very heavy meal.
Perhaps you have even thought that you are so full and uncomfortable that you cannot even think.
That is the very reason nutritionists recommend you have a balanced meal and an early dinner.
Perhaps you then choose to have balanced meals to optimise your mind and your body functions.
As the mind and body are connected, as what you think has a great influence on how your body behaves, here’s some more food for thought:
You are what you think.
Thoughts are not random. You choose what you think.
No one can think for you unless you choose to allow them to do so.
If you choose thoughts that sabotage you, thoughts that limit your potential and drag you down and if you do this for long enough, you will become that person through your behaviour.
When you think about yourself, you think that you are not good enough, that you are rubbish, you will never get the job you want or worse you don’t deserve to have what you want, eventually, you will assume a pessimistic attitude towards life. And as your mind and your body are connected, your body will become uncomfortable, not at ease, in other words, disease.
Now, if you choose thoughts that support you, encourage and motivate you to keep going till getting what you want, your body will respond accordingly.
By the same token, when you think you are good enough, you can and want to achieve your goals and again most importantly you deserve to get what you want, your body will respond by becoming comfortable and at ease.
The connection between your mind and your body will be at their optimum.
As you choose what you eat, choose what you think.
Think best and you become your best.
Regina Brancato-Dunderdale is the founder of Regina Hypnotherapist. Born in Brazil, Regina started her career as a teacher to then discover NLP and hypnotherapy after her career took her to Angola, south-west Africa, where civil war still ravaged the country.
Years later, in London, a friend introduced her to NLP and hypnotherapy and she was amazed at how quickly and effectively it changed her life for the better.
Regina is now a Trainer of NLP and Hypnosis, specialising in treating phobias, overcoming anxiety and controlling your emotions.
Read the other blog about resilience written by Regina .