More than a few people may be surprised to hear that the digestive system or gut does way more than digest food. Immune system support, flushing out toxins, and transferring nutrients from the food you eat to the rest of the body are three other major functions carried out by your gut. In effect, the gut’s activities and its ability to carry them out impact every aspect of your health.
A healthy gut naturally translates into a healthy body, and you’ll know it because you’ll feel great. An unhealthy gut paves the way for sickness and disease to develop in any number of ways, including hypertension, allergies, heart disease, and even depression. Read on to see the different ways your digestive system impacts the body’s health and why a healthy diet is so important for your digestive health.
Maintaining a Healthy Gut – Good Bacteria vs. Bad Bacteria
Your digestive system encompasses a whole group of organs that work together to digest and metabolize nutrients as well as eliminate waste. Along with the stomach and small intestines, the mouth, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, colon, and rectum all play key roles in keeping the gut working as it should. What many people don’t know is the gut’s health ultimately determines how healthy you feel, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally.
The digestive tract is not unlike an ecosystem, in that it contains trillions of good and bad bacteria or gut flora. The good bacteria promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. The bad bacteria hamper these processes in harmful ways. In effect, too many bad bacteria sicken the body over time and can even increase your risk for cancer. While each person’s gut flora is unique, taking steps to promote and maintain a healthy population of good bacteria can go a long way toward creating a healthy gut environment.
Ways a Healthy Gut Impacts Your Overall Health
Extracting nutrients from the food we eat and transporting them into the bloodstream so the body can use them is something a healthy gut does well and efficiently. The good bacteria that line the walls of the small intestine coordinate this process. The gut’s ability to send nutrients into the bloodstream also relies on the health of the barrier (called the gut mucosa) that separates the digestive tract from the rest of the body. Also lined with bacteria, the cells of the gut mucosa actively transport molecules of protein, vitamins, and minerals into the bloodstream. The bloodstream then carries these nutrients to individual cells throughout the body.
Protection Against Disease
The foods we eat may well provide the body with essential nutrients, but incoming food also exposes the gut to bad bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing organisms. A healthy gut has ways of sterilizing and detoxifying these harmful materials before they can impact the body’s health. Stomach acid and enzymes sterilize incoming food. The small intestines also help with detoxifying food materials.
Within the small intestines, small clusters of lymphoid tissue, known as Peyer’s patches, work to identify harmful materials and trigger the body’s immune response when necessary. Not surprisingly, the types of food we eat have a tremendous bearing on gut health. The types of food we eat also impact how well the gut is able to respond to disease-causing materials.
People affected by chronic digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome and functional bowel problems, already know how a stressful day can further irritate digestive problems. Recent research on the effects of anxiety and depression on gastrointestinal health reveal the gut may be affecting your emotional state just as much as emotions affect the gut. Not too long ago, researchers discovered what’s called the “second brain” that resides inside the walls of your digestive tract. This “second brain” is in constant communication with the “first” brain.
The “second brain,” also known as the enteric nervous system, is made up of 100 million nerve cells that line the digestive tract. Researchers believe these nerve cells trigger emotional swings in people affected by chronic digestive conditions. This means when irritation or inflammation affect your gut, the risk of developing symptoms of depression or anxiety increases.
The Hallelujah Diet – The Natural Way to Maintain a Healthy Gut
It’s all but impossible to maintain a healthy gut when the bulk of your diet consists of processed foods, meats, sugar, and little to no fiber content. These types of food not only irritate and inflame the intestinal tract but also expose it to increased numbrets of harmful, “bad” bacteria and disease-causing agents. On the other hand, a diet high in fiber, healthy fats, and essential nutrients not only feeds the body’s nutritional needs but also supports healthy nutrient absorption and regular bowel movements.
The Hallelujah Diet, made up of whole fruits and vegetables, vegetable juice, nuts and seeds, organic whole grains and legumes, does all this and more. Our plant-based diet feeds the good bacteria in your gut while also cleansing and detoxifying the digestive tract along the way. Whole foods nourish the gut flora and strengthen its defenses against harmful materials. These conditions work to maintain a healthy gut for the long-term while greatly reducing your risk of developing chronic disease, in all its forms.