Gut Health 101: Why Gut Health is the Key to Overall Health
“We’ve spent decades studying the gut microbiota and the link between good gut health and overall health. Within the gut, the promotion of good bacteria provides a wealth of crucial benefits from prevention of infections, brain and nervous system function, nutrient acquisition and immune system strengthening. The gut really is the key to good overall health.” – Dr Jelena Vulevic, The Y Collection
When you think of good gut health, you probably think of comfortable digestion and efficient absorption of foods, but actually, it goes way beyond that. Good gut health contributes to so many other factors including good overall body health, good skin, and much more.
Why Gut Health is so Important
The gut hosts 70% of our immune cells, 500 million neurons, 100% of our body fuel and our microbiome.
Gut health covers multiple positive aspects, such as the effective digestion and absorption of food, the absence of illness, normal and stable microbiota, effective immune status and a state of well-being. There is a delicate interaction between the body and the microbiota. The disruption of this balance has a direct effect on overall health and ageing, not just in the gut but in the whole body, for example, the skin or the brain.
Gut health maintenance involves continuous interaction between our microbiota, our immune system and the intact barrier between them.
Most of the cells in our body don't even belong to us, like the gut microbiota; microorganisms that process everything we consume, breaking down vitamins and minerals to produce exactly what the body needs, generating energy and boosting overall health.
A community of slightly over 38 trillion (12 zeroes!) microorganisms are a part of us, primarily bacteria, living in and on our bodies. The majority reside in the gastrointestinal tract, but many others live in diverse places like the mouth, skin, and armpits. They represent more than 50% of our body by cell count.
Of all the bacteria that interact with our body, we now know less than 100 pose a pathogenic threat to humans. Most are harmless (commensal). Many are beneficial (mutualistic). The ones that live in and on us are essential.
Collectively, the genes harboured in these trillions of microbial cells constitute our microbiome.
Gut Immune System
Vital layers of nerves and smooth muscle tissue make up our gut lining. Our gut lining is where 70% of our entire immune system further processes everything that comes through, absorbing what's good and withstanding what's bad. Needless to say, this goes on to affect the entire body.
Gut motility is the movement of smooth muscle in our gastrointestinal tract. Low smooth muscle tone in our intestines leads to slow gut motility. When gut motility is slow, microbiota and yeast get backed up in the small intestines. In bad cases, this can lead to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Low gut motility is often a cause of constipation while higher motility can cause diarrhoea.
How the Gut Microbiome Contributes to Immune Fitness
It is generally regarded to start at birth. Eventually, breast milk and the surrounding environment - other mums, dads, siblings, dogs, the ground, nature - contribute to this microbial biodiversity.
These first microbes colonise our gastrointestinal system and form the foundation of our immune system, serving as the instructors of what is dangerous and what is not. Bifidobacteria are essential for this because they provide signalling molecules that train our immune system. By the first few years of life, the microbiota stabilises into the steady state, resembling more or less what we have today.
A huge proportion (70%) of our immune system is in our gut. Our immune system is inside our body and bacteria are outside our body, yet they interact through a constant communication and exchange.
Our immune system both controls the gut microbiota and depends on it for a normal function and development of the body. Thereby, the protection and maintenance of gut health are dependent on our immune system's ability to regulate the complex balance between the defence against and the acceptance of the gut microbiota. Key for the regulation of this balance are the molecules (or metabolites) that microbiota produce such as the ones from bifidobacteria found in The Y Collection products.
How Gut Microbiota Communicates With the Immune System
The interplay between our gut microbiota and our immune system development and function includes continuous interactions in both health and disease.
The microbiome plays critical roles in the training and development of major components of our immune system, while the immune system orchestrates the maintenance of key features of host-microbe symbiosis, mainly through its barrier function that is more than just a mechanical barricade and contributes to gut immune responses that play a key role in regulating gut health.
In one way, a functional gut barrier can regulate the diversity of bacterial species, counteracting harmful bacteria and cooperating with beneficial ones; in reverse, the microbiota can alter the gut barrier integrity by modulating the innate (inherited) immune system. Imbalances in those microbiota-immunity interactions under defined environmental contexts are believed to contribute to the pathogenesis of a multitude of immune-mediated disorders.
In short, gut barrier and gut microbiota are two crucial factors affecting gut health.
Over the last 20 years, the focus has been on the microbiota arm of this interaction. The communication between our microbiota and the immune system happens through the generation of active ingredients (signalling molecules) by microbiota. Depending on their chemical structures, they can carry positive or negative information.
How to Care for Your Gut Health
- Good probiotics complement good gut microbiota, boosting the quality of what we consume (provided that we’re consuming good quality, healthy food)
Good prebiotics feed good probiotics, boosting their effectiveness and helping them multiply, and more importantly, produce beneficial metabolites
- Proper stress management and exercise regulate gut motility, optimising the rate of digestion
- A healthy diet boosts gut immunity, allowing us to absorb what is good and withstand what is bad far beyond good digestion.
Y SKIN contains active ingredients used by bifidobacteria to train our immune system when we are infants, that focus on the barrier function to complement the microbiome modulators and/or the intestinal immune responses.
Y GUT sensitive, our latest innovation, is the only product on the market that directly addresses all three components of good gut health: Gut Microbiota, Gut Immune System, and Gut Motility.
Good gut health is your window to complete overall well-being.
Visit our collection for more detail on what our products can do for you, or email us at help@theYcollection.com if you have questions or need more information.
Frequently Asked Questions about Gut Health:
What is gut health and why does it matter?
Gut health covers multiple positive aspects, such as the effective digestion and absorption of food, the absence of illness, normal and stable microbiota, effective immune status and a state of well-being.
A healthy gut means that the intestinal environment, including the microbiota, and the immune system are in sync and performing at their best. Gut health is important as it contributes to many other factors including good overall body health, good skin and more.
How do I know if my gut is unhealthy?
There are many signs that will indicate there may be a problem with your gut health. These can include stomach ache, constipation or diarrhoea, fatigue, trouble sleeping, unintentional weight gain, skin irritations and more.
How do I check my gut health?
There’s no commercially available test for gut health (although there are some that test microbiota only), but there are signs you can look out for that indicate your gut is healthy. Your gut transit time, pain-free and regular bowel movements, little to no bloating or gas, no stomach aches, clear skin and good energy levels.
What causes poor gut health?
Some of it is down to genetics, but more often than not it could be caused by diet or lifestyle factors such as poor sleep quality, not having a balanced fibre-rich diet, alcohol consumption, stress, lack of physical activity and so on.
How can I make my gut more healthy?
You can start by adopting a healthy diet, consuming high-fibre and prebiotic-rich food. Adopting a regular fitness routine, a good sleep schedule, taking steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life, and taking probiotic supplements will also help improve gut health.