But, if the term ‘gut health’ refers to our gastrointestinal tract – which includes the excretion of material outside of our body – you might wonder how such an unsexy topic because so popular?
When we refer to the gastrointestinal tract, we’re talking about the nine-metre long system that spans from when food first enters your oesophagus (aka our food pipe) all the way until it comes out the other end.
Given its sheer length, it’s sure to do some pretty cool things. Recently, there’s been a boom in research stressing the need to look after your gut, because keeping it healthy is the key to so many aspects of wellness. Here’s what you need to know.
What does our gastrointestinal system actually do?
We’ve always known the gut to be responsible for breaking down food, extracting the nutrients and processing waste, but it does a whole lot more than just that.
Our gastrointestinal tract contains the enteric nervous system (ENS), also known as our “second brain”, which sits within the wall of the gut and keeps your whole body in check.
The ENS is responsible for the production and regulation of our hormones, namely serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ hormone. Irritation of the gut then interferes with the normal flow of this hormone and this can have a huge impact on your mental health.
Our gut also puts up a great fight against the risk of disease. If any toxins or undesirables make it through our stomach acid, they then come into contact with our immune system and roughly 75 per cent of that lives within the gut. Your gut needs to be thriving and healthy 24/7 for you to avoid illness or fatigue.
So, when you look at it that way, it’s no wonder it plays such a huge part in our energy levels.
Underneath it all, our digestive system is highly reliant on our ‘gut microbiome.’ Our gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live all through the intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprised of ”good” and “bad” bacteria help break down food your body can’t digest, absorb nutrients into the bloodstream and regulate your immune system.
Why is a healthy gut so important?
If your gut health isn’t too great, your body's ability to perform all these vital functions will be hampered.