Health begins in the gut
Hippocrates stated over 2,000 years ago that ‘Every disease begins in the gut’. Although this bold claim has not been confirmed, there is a hint of truth in it. The state of the gut microflora can contribute to chronic inflammation in the body, which in turn contributes to the development of many metabolic and psychiatric diseases.
Over 2,000 years ago, the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, suggested that all disease begins in the gut. Was he actually right? Many studies have been carried out to investigate the impact of the gut microbiota on the various systems in the body, and many prove the relationship between the two.
The microbiome – what is it?
The microbiome is the totality of microorganisms present in a given environment. We can talk about the microbiome both in the context of the environment and the microorganisms in the human body, and today we will focus on this. In a healthy adult, the microbiome can reach a mass of up to 2-3 kg. The micro-organisms inhabiting a specific part of a given microbiome (e.g. mouth, nasal cavity, intestines, urinary tract, skin, etc.) are called microbiota, and their composition, in terms of quality and quantity, can vary. Today, we will focus on the microbiome of the digestive system and, more specifically, the gut.
Gut health and chronic inflammation
An abnormal intestinal microflora caused by, among other things, a poor diet, drinking a lot of alcohol, consuming a lot of sugar or frequently taking antibiotics can result in dybiosis (disruption of the intestinal microflora) and further disruption of the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Consequently, toxins can enter the bloodstream, the presence of which triggers an immune system response. If the inflammation caused by the presence of toxins persists over a prolonged period, this can result in the emergence of chronic inflammation in the body, which in turn can contribute to the development of a number of diseases.
Effects of chronic inflammation in the body
Short-term inflammation in the body can be said to promote health in some ways, as it stimulates the immune system to defend itself against toxins and other unwanted microorganisms. However, if inflammation begins to occur continuously in the body – it is then called chronic, low-grade or systemic inflammation – it can cause immune cells to attack not only unwanted cells, but also healthy cells in the body thus contributing to the development of various diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and many others.
Ways to improve the gut microbiota
There is still a lack of conclusive research that demonstrates a link between diet and chronic inflammation in the body, but it is likely that diet quality and lifestyle have an impact on their occurrence in the body. So what can you do to keep your body and your health in good shape?
Follow a varied diet, rich in nutrients
Try to ensure that your diet is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fermented foods, unsaturated fatty acids (including omega 3 acids). Remember to ensure an adequate supply of protein, but try to get it not only from meat, but also from fish and legumes.
Introduce probiotics and prebiotics into your diet
Systematic supplementation with probiotics and prebiotics is actually already essential for maintaining a healthy gut microflora. If you drink alcohol, eat processed foods and have taken an antibiotic at least once in your life, you should probably take care to improve your gut microflora. You can read more about probiotic therapy in the article Probiotics.
Limit your alcohol consumption
Alcohol can weaken the gut microflora and contribute to the disruption of the integrity of the gut microflora.
Constantly elevated levels of stress hormones can also negatively affect the body, contributing to the strengthening of inflammation in the body.
Ensure adequate quantity and quality of sleep
Inadequate sleep results in insufficient regeneration of the body, which reinforces the occurrence of inflammation in the body.
Investigate whether you suffer from food intolerances or allergies
Perhaps what you eat is not conducive to your health. If you frequently experience diarrhoea, bloating or an overflowing stomach, especially after eating a certain product, it is worth getting tested for food intolerances or allergies.
So was Hippocrates right when he said that “Every disease begins in the gut”? No, not every disease, but many studies have shown that a disturbed microbiome can lead to the development of chronic metabolic diseases. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at your bowel movements (whether your stools are normal, whether you have frequent diarrhoea or constipation), observe how your digestive process is going (whether there is bloating, a feeling of overflowing in the abdomen). If so, consider doing additional tests and introducing tailored probiotic therapy or at least making dietary changes.
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