After several studies established a connection between our gut and our brain, it came as no surprise when the term ‘gut health’ made it to the list of predicted health trends of 2016.
This year has also seen the launch of several related books — Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be The Root Cause Of Your Health Problems And 5 Surprising Steps To Cure It by Dr Josh Axe, and Younger Skin Starts In The Gut by Dr Nigma Talib (whose patrons include Frieda Pinto and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).
City experts also agree that now, the connection between one’s gut health and one’s overall general wellness is the clearest it has ever been. The approach to any tummy-related issues that were so far dismissed as bloating or flatulence has also radically changed.
The gut revolution supposedly started with the discovery of three human enterotypes — a classification of living organisms based on their bacteriological ecosystem in the gut microbiome — by Peer Bork and his associates. In April 2011, this discovery was published in an issue of the science journal, Nature. Simply put, just like blood types, individuals also have ‘bug types’. “The different gut types are named after the bacteria that is present in majority. The microbiota of each person, is in turn, based on a number of factors like their genetic background, long-term diet, antibiotics exposure, and age,” says nutritionist Khushboo Sahijwani.
Supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley recently revealed that she strictly follows a diet plan charted by Dr Nigma Talib, who recently authored a book on gut health.
The three types of guts are those with:
The Bacteroides ecosystem: It is prevalent among those who eat more meat and saturated fats. This gut consists largely of bacteria that get energy by fermenting sugars and proteins. So, it is possible that people of this type might, for example, struggle more with obesity.
The Prevotella ecosystem: This ecosystem is predominant among those who favour carbs in their diets. This type of gut contains a lot of microbes that feed on proteins in the mucus-y lining of the gut, making these people more prone to gut pain.
The Ruminococcus ecosystem: This type was found among those who consumed a lot of polyunsaturated fats. It also happens to be the most common type. Bacteria in this ecosystem dine on gut mucus proteins, but they also enjoy simple sugar treats. Hence, people with these gut types are likely to put on weight easily.
The gut brain connect
The gut is considered the body’s second brain. Apart from digesting food, it has the ability to influence the mind-mood-behaviour cycle. A healthy gut reinforces a positive outlook and behaviour, while depression has been linked to an imbalance or lack of gut bacteria. Gut flora plays a role in the communication between the gut and the brain, which impacts mental and physical health.
The brain and gut are created out of the same type of tissue. During foetal development, one part turns into the central nervous system (CNS), while the other becomes the enteric nervous system (ENS). These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in the gut, and not in the brain. A big part of our emotions are influenced by the nerves in our gut.
These symptoms point towards a weak gut:
* Digestive problems such as gas, bloating, or diarrhoea
* Seasonal or food allergies
* Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS
* Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
* Mood and mind issues like depression and anxiety
* Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
* Diagnosis of candida overgrowth
* Chronic stress
— With inputs from nutritionist Dr Riddhesh Jani
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