Sunday 16 September 2012

The Bugs in Your Belly

This Saturday just passed I attended an extremely worthwhile workshop by Nourish Co on Mindful Marketing – basically marketing for health-related businesses, with a specific focus on using social media (e.g. blogs). I walked away from this course with a full brain – a little overwhelmed but also very inspired. Anyways, the reason I mention it here is one of Rebecca's tips was to limit blog posts to 450 words. Mine tend to be around the 1500 mark, and considering I have already used up around 100 words explaining my need to cull, you can see how much I suck at this! So beginning now, I will aim to keep my posts shorter and more regular….

This one starts here (above-mentioned words not counted)

“Acidophilus freaks me out!” 
(actual quote from my hilarious uni friend, Liv)

Did you know that there are 10 times more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your ENTIRE body? Do you have any idea how huge a role these little babies play in your overall health, happiness and well-being (hint – REALLY huge role!!). While we may think we have control over them, in reality they have much more control over us, with the potential to make or break us depending on how kind we are to them (don’t think about this too hard or you may wig out a little). 

(Completely unrelated side note - this is what comes up when you put "wig out" into YouTube)

Apologies - I was struggling for picture/video ideas for this post. Hope it brightened your day! 

The alternative was an image of gut bacteria:
How incredibly BORING!!

More and more research is emerging in the field of gut microbiota (fancy scientific term for “bugs in your belly”) showing the vast roles they play in your health. Just last week I attended a fascinating webinar by the Nutrition Society of Australia on gut health, and I’d like to share some of the take-aways in easy to absorb bullet points:

  • Gut health is determined by the balance of bacteria located within (i.e. you want more of the good, like acidophilus, and less of the bad, such as E.Coli). Considering your gut is the largest endocrine (hormone-producing) organ of the body, you kind of want to get this balance right
  • Imbalances in gut bacteria have been linked to many conditions, ranging from digestive disorders such as Chrohn’s and coeliac disease, to mental and behavioural conditions such as ADHD, autism and depression, and metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes!
  • The bugs in your belly can determine how much nutrition you obtain from your food and can assist in the production of vitamins K, B12, folate and biotin, as well as bile acids which aid in fat digestion
  • There are hundreds and hundreds of different types of bacteria in our tummies. Most pro-biotic supplements represent just a few percent of our gut bacteria…perhaps increasing your pro-biotics from foods would be a wiser, more beneficial option?
  • Alcohol can cause bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (out of bounds for the bugs – their hood is lower down in the large intestine), which can lead to a leaky gut whereby bacteria and other uninvited guests can get into our bloodstream and cause widespread damage in our body
  • Aspartame, often found in diet soft drinks, can modify populations of bacteria and can get converted to methanol and formaldehyde! Very bad. Very very bad! Avoid!
  • Stress can throw out the balance by increasing pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria and decreasing beneficial bacteria. More reason to take a chill pill!

I’ve done it (just)! There is so much more to say, but I'll leave you hanging a little. You're busting with anticipation already, aren't you? Next post we’ll look at how to nourish your gut flora with food….
(437 words, not including intro and extra tid bits I put in at the last minute)

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