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“A healthy gut is Key for our overall well-being”–Paul Ebeling
The gut is made up of many structures essential to your body’s health, including the immune system and metabolism.
It’s easy to forget about all of these benefits when so many articles are being published on what we should be eating, what we should not be eating.
Here I explore some common foods to avoid if you want to maintain a healthy gut and some suggestions for how best to do so, such as following a Mediterranean eating plan.
The gut has compartments: the small intestine and the large intestine.
The small intestine – the duodenum, jejunum and ileum – stretches from the stomach to the large intestine. It absorbs most of what we eat. But, in fact, its primary purpose is to absorb nutrients.
The large intestine is located right above the small intestine. It has three sections: ascending, transverse and descending colon. The primary purpose of the large intestine is to absorb water from indigestible matter. At the end of this is your rear, where the stuff your body does not need is eliminated.
The microbiota in the gut are responsible for nutrient absorption, promoting a healthy immune system and weight loss.
In addition, the microbiome influences glucose metabolism and gastrointestinal function.
The healthy bacterium in our gut creates a barrier against pathogens and toxins. However, when this barrier is disrupted due to bad food choices, it can lead to increased intestinal permeability, allowing bacteria to pass through the intestines into other areas of the body.
Common foods to avoid:
- Processed Meats: Processed meats such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs contain nitrates which can disrupt our bacteria balance by killing off helpful probiotic species in our intestines. This has been linked with colon cancer in humans and other gastrointestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Sugary Drinks: Drinks like soda and lemonade are packed with sugar that is harmful to the gut. Drinking these drinks too often can cause a fatty liver that causes inflammation of the digestive tract cells. This leads to bloating, constipation and other symptoms associated with poor gut health, such as fatigue, irritability and poor immune function.
- White Flour: Bread, pasta and other goods made from white flour (a refined carbohydrate) lack dietary fiber and ferment quickly in the gut. This can lead to increased gas, bloating and diarrhea and nutrient malabsorption, which can cause fatigue, weakness and mental health problems.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Splenda and other artificial sweeteners have been linked to adverse gut health effects. These include changes in the microbiome and increases in blood glucose levels, as well as inflammatory markers.
- Gluten-Containing Foods: Gluten is found in many common grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It can cause inflammatory changes in the gut that cause gas, bloating and abdominal pain and damage to the lining of the digestive tract, which can contribute to leaky gut syndrome.
- Refined Vegetable Oils: We all know that vegetable oils are not suitable for us, but most of these oils don’t just contain harmful fatty acids like omega- They also contain high levels of erucic acid, which has been linked with gastrointestinal upset.
- Seed Oils: Sunflower, safflower and soybean oils contain very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which cause intestinal inflammation, increased LDL cholesterol and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Sugar-Free Foods: There is no such thing as sugar-free. These foods often use artificial sweeteners to replace the sweetness lost from removing sugar, linked with metabolic disturbances in mice that cause obesity and diabetes.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol inflicts chemical irritation of the intestinal lining, leading to long-term problems like gastritis and ulcers. It also causes our intestines to get inflamed by increasing permeability. This lets through large particles like bacteria and even food bits that our immune system will get very angry about.
Maintaining a healthy gut is Key for your overall well-being. So, do your best to avoid all of the above!