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By Marlien Wright | 15 Jun, 2023

What does GOOD gut-health mean?

Good gut-health refers to the proper functioning and balance of the digestive system, which includes the stomach, intestines, and colon. This balance is maintained by a complex community of bacteria, known as the gut microbiome, which helps break down food, produce essential vitamins and minerals, and support immune function – in other words our gut performs functions for us – that our bodies cannot do for itself.

When the gut microbiome is healthy, it helps prevent digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea, and also have a positive impact on mental health, immunity, weight management, and our overall well-being. 

A healthy gut also helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

Why have we evolved to have a microbiome full of bacteria living in our bodies? For the simple reason that we don’t live in a sterile world.

As soon as a baby is born, it gets inoculated by bacteria. Did you know that the bacteria in our gut’s. 

Why are so many of us struggling with good gut-health?

  • Modern day diets full of processed foods
  • preservatives and emulsifiers 
    • Preservatives act like antibiotics, killing gut bacteria (sulphur dioxide etc)
    • Emulsifiers found in many processed foods -increase the translocation of bacteria through the epithelium in the gut barrier, thereby inducing inflammation.- found in mayonnaise, chocolate, ice cream, some nut butters (check the label) biscuits, salad dressing and creamy sauces.
  • Chronic stress can affect gut health by disrupting the balance of bacteria in the gut and impairing digestive function.
  • Overuse of certain medication use such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories 
  • Chlorine in our water
  • The lack of soil exposure
  • Decrease in natural births
  • Breastfeeding
  • Lack of exercise: Regular exercise can help promote good gut-health by increasing blood flow and promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption: Alcohol can irritate the lining of the digestive system and disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to digestive issues and inflammation.
  • Lack of sleep: Poor sleep quality or a lack of sleep can also affect gut health, as sleep plays an important role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Lack of fibre: A diet low in fibre can also contribute to poor gut health, as fibre is essential for feeding the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

A diet high in fibre (prebiotics) and fermented foods can promote a healthy gut microbiome, while a diet high in processed foods and sugar can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut.

What is the relationship between our gut health mood, cravings and immunity:

There is a strong relationship between our gut health, mood, and immunity. The gut is often referred to as the “second brain” because of the close relationship between the gut and the nervous system. The gut contains a large number of neurons and is also home to the gut microbiome, a complex community of bacteria that play an important role in the functioning of the digestive system and the immune system.

Research has shown that the gut microbiome can influence brain function and mood. The bacteria in the gut produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in regulating mood and behaviour. In fact, about 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to improved mood, reduced anxiety and depression, and better cognitive function.

The gut is also a key player in the immune system. The gut microbiome helps regulate the immune system by interacting with immune cells in the gut, producing antimicrobial compounds that help protect against harmful pathogens, and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria that support immune function. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for a robust and effective immune response.

Conversely, poor gut health, such as an imbalance in the gut microbiome or inflammation in the gut, can lead to a variety of health issues, including digestive problems, mood disorders, and a weakened immune system. By taking care of our gut health through healthy diet and lifestyle practices, we can support our overall health and well-being.

We have always known there is a pathway between the gut and brain, but we now know how sophisticated the messages are. What you feed your gut will be what your gut asks for – when we understand this we can address cravings by refeeding our guts with the right foods so we can change our cravings with healthy foods.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests a strong relationship between gut health and weight. Several studies have shown that individuals with an unhealthy gut microbiome may be more likely to be overweight or obese, while those with a healthy gut microbiome may be more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

Blood sugar balance & good gut-health:

Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars: These foods can cause blood sugar spikes, but also contributes to inflammation and gut issues.

The gut microbiome plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels by interacting with the body’s hormones and metabolism.

Sticking to small amounts of wholegrains or starchy veggies like squash (pumpkin, butternut, potatoes and sweet potatoes) is important for good gut-health in terms of the wonderful fibre it provides, but also BSB.

Soil exposure – get outside and work in the soil, eat veggies with organic origin and where possible scrub clean instead of peeling to preserve the microbes on the skin

Fermented foods versus probiotics:

Fermented foods and probiotics both have the potential to improve gut health, but they work in slightly different ways.

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lacto-fermentation, which involves the growth of beneficial bacteria on the food. Examples of fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. These foods can help to increase the diversity of the gut microbiome by introducing beneficial bacteria to the gut. Additionally, fermented foods contain other compounds that can help to promote good gut-health, such as organic acids, enzymes, and antioxidants.

Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria that are taken as a supplement. They can help to restore the balance of the gut microbiome by introducing beneficial bacteria directly to the gut. Probiotic supplements can be useful for people who have a specific gut issue or who have taken antibiotics recently, which can disrupt the gut microbiome.

In summary, while fermented foods and probiotics both have the potential to improve gut health, fermented foods may offer additional benefits due to the other compounds they contain. However, probiotic supplements may be more effective in cases where specific strains of bacteria are needed to address a particular issue.

Gut healing protocol: Autumn & Winter is an excellent time to do a gut healing protocol

Stick to mostly cooked foods (think soups, stews, curries and casseroles). Ideally follow this program for 6 weeks.

There are many protocols for gut healing, a specific approach may vary depending on the individual’s needs and underlying conditions. However, here are some general steps that can be taken to promote good gut-health and healing:

  • Remove gut irritants: Eliminate or reduce potential irritants like processed foods, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and food allergens: gluten, lactose in dairy, eggs, soy, nuts.
  • Restore gut-friendly foods: Add foods that promote good gut-health, such as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, as well as prebiotic foods like garlic, onions, and Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Address stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health, so finding ways to manage stress is crucial. This may include meditation, yoga, or therapy.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for good gut-health and healing, as it allows the body to rest and repair. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help reduce inflammation in the body and promote healthy bowel movements.
  • Seek medical attention: If you have chronic gut issues from a qualified healthcare practitioner to rule out any serious conditions and to receive individualized treatment recommendations.

Consider taking supplements to support gut healing:

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help to improve gut health by restoring the balance of the gut microbiome. Look for a probiotic supplement that contains a variety of strains and at least 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units).
  • Digestive enzymes: Digestive enzymes can help to break down food more effectively, reducing the stress on the digestive system. Look for a digestive enzyme supplement that contains a blend of protease, amylase, and lipase enzymes.
  • Glutamine: Glutamine is an amino acid that is essential for the growth and repair of the gut lining. It can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing in the gut.
  • Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral that is important for gut health. It can help to improve gut barrier function and reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for immune function and can help to reduce inflammation in the gut.
  • Fish oil: Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce gut inflammation and promote healing.

An example of a gut healing menu: 

Breakfast – savoury buckwheat or whole rolled oats porridge with mushrooms spinach/ asparagus & eggs

Lunch – Chicken & vegetable soup (with chicken bone broth – see recipe below).

Supper – Stew or curry with quinoa and vegetables, serve with rice – serve with a salad of mixed leaves, avocado and carrots on the side


Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). The gut-brain connection. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection

Fond, G., Boukouaci, W., Chevalier, G., Regnault, A., Eberl, G., Hamdani, N., & Leboyer, M. (2015). The “psychomicrobiotic”: Targeting microbiota in major psychiatric disorders: A systematic review. Pathologie Biologie, 63(1), 35-42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.patbio.2014.10.003

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2019). The microbiome: What is it and how is it important to our health? https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/microbiome

Tursi, A., Brandimarte, G., Papa, A., Giglio, A., Elisei, W., & Giorgetti, G. M. (2020). Microbiota, immune system and inflammation: A triangular relationship. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 34, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1177/2058738420966741

Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). Can gut bacteria improve your health? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2022). Probiotics: What you need to know. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know

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