For centuries, we have known the importance of our gut, or gastrointestinal tract (gi tract) to our overall health and well-being. Traditional Chinese medicine physicians knew over 4,000 years ago about the strong relationship of a healthy gut for vitality and longevity.
Today, scientists have found even more incredible findings about our gut. In last week’s blog, we explored the gi tract as being our “second brain” and the gut-brain connection, but did you know that your gut does a lot more than that?
5 Incredible Facts About Your Gut
More than 40 trillion bacteria live in our gi tracts, which measures approximately 30 feet from esophagus to anus.
Gut bacteria outnumber human cells by 10:1.
There’s a new area of science delving into the gut- brain connection, known as neurogastroenterology.
Over 100 million brain cells live in the gut (more than in the spinal cord), producing over 90% of your body’s neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine and GABA.
Approximately, 70% of our immune cells live in the gut.
Let’s delve into some of these facts more closely. In our gi tract, there is a unique environment, or biome, where trillions of bacteria with varying strains are thriving. Some are “good” bacteria and some are “bad” bacteria. By eating certain foods, we can maintain a healthy gut biome by encouraging more of the good bacteria and staving off the bad bacteria.
We’ve all heard about prebiotics and probiotics but what do they really do? Think of prebiotics as food for the good bacteria and probiotics as the good bacteria living in our guts. Probiotics are living microorganisms, which maintain gut health and are found in fermented foods. Prebiotics are non-living, carbohydrates that the body cannot digest and are found in high fiber foods such as dandelion greens, broccoli and asparagus.
Here is a list of foods that help to keep this microbiome in optimal shape:
Fiber. Think whole grains, beans and legumes, and whole fruits and veggies.
Did you know that your immune system is closely linked to your gut?
As the fifth fact above states, over 70% of our immune cells reside in our gut. These immune cells are called gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and are critical for our ability to fight off pathogens, which can lead to infection and diseases.
Yes, as we can see, our gi tract is an extraordinary system – from both a brain health and immune health standpoint. Keeping it in tip-top shape is the goal!
Remember, your body is your palace – so treat it like one!