The Importance of Gut Health

The Importance of Gut Health image

The Importance of Gut Health

“All diseases start in the gut” 

– Hippocrates

Have you ever used the expression: “My gut-feeling is…” or advised someone to trust their “gut-instinct”? There is a primal connection between our gut and brain and that is why the gut is often referred to as our second brain.

The gut-brain axis is an extensive network of neurons, chemicals and hormones constantly communicating whether you are hungry, if are you experiencing stress or if you have ingested disease-causing microbes. It is, however, more than that. Around 300 BCE Hippocrates had already suggested that “All diseases start in the gut”.

It is reported that 80-90% of our immune system resides in the gut. It actually starts in the mouth, ears, nose, throat and right through to the rectum. These are the parts of your body (excluding the skin) that will first encounter the outside world. The moment you put something in your mouth, take a deep breath, or drink something you bring the outside world in.

These wet linings, stomach acid, fine hairs in the nose etc. are your body’s first line of defence. Should anything get past these areas then your gut will send special cells to test whether these foreign particles belong in the body or not – should they pose a threat, your body will have an immune response – inflammation is the result of this response.

The first response might not be obvious to you, but over time the gut lining becomes damaged, the response more severe and it may lead to symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Food sensitivities
  • Chronic pain
  • Allergies

What we have learned is that before disease there is inflammation, before inflammation there is gut dysfunction.

Diet and Gut Health

Inflammation can be addressed with many of the chemical drugs available and one can treat these conditions and keep the symptoms at bay. However, this is somewhat like disconnecting your fire alarm because the noise irritates you, instead you should be looking to put out the fire. Gut dysfunction should be addressed to calm the inflammation and restore the immune system and, in turn, restore health. This is where nutrition plays a pivotal role. The importance of nutrition is often undervalued when it comes to gut and overall health.

I am astonished, often irritated at how quickly food can be blamed for high cholesterol and obesity (rightly so), but one hardly ever hears from medical professionals how your food can also do the opposite, and to quote Hippocrates again “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food”.  

A dysfunctional gut contributes to digestive issues, poor nutritional absorption, food sensitivities, inflammation, exhausted immune system, DNA damage and chronic disease conditions.  Food is more than just calories and a taste bud sensation. 

Nutrients are:

  • key in metabolic processes
  •  provide energy
  •  provide information to your DNA
  •  are building blocks of cells
  •  helps your body protect itself

The popular phrase “you are what you eat” can be taken quite literally. Because food makes up the structure and integrity of each and every cell in your body, the food you eat directly influences every aspect of your body. This includes the way your body repairs, heals and rebuilds itself.

 “Every time you eat or drink you are either feeding disease or fighting it!”

 – Heather Morgan

How to Boost Your Gut Health

Professional advice to determine the effect your gut is having on your overall health can help to diagnose any problems you may have. This can be anything from constipation to type II diabetes. A targeted nutritional plan as personalised medicine can restore gut health and improve your overall well being. Contact Jacky Hattingh to get started on your road to recovery.


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