Tis the season for an unhappy gut! Traveling, antibiotics, dining out and intense training are all triggers for GI issues. These “issues” may include stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation or a combination of each…whew! What’s worse, the disruption of healthy bacteria can lower your immune system, setting you up for a vicious cycle of an unhappy gut and body! It’s time to get your gut back on track to running smoothly!
Bacteria are good for us!
I know we’ve always been taught to wash our hands to get rid of bacteria because they’re bad, dirty and makes us sick. While this is all true, some bacteria are actually good for us. I’m referring to bacteria that are in your gut. Healthy bacteria in your gut aids in digestion as well as boosts your immune system.
Let’s quickly review the digestive system:
Mouth- digestion starts here through the action of chewing and release of amylase to help breakdown food
Stomach- gastric juices are released and the churning action of your stomach acts as a big mixing bowl
Pancreas, Liver and Gallbladder- release digestive enzymes for further food breakdown
Small Intestines/Large Intestines- contain a large amount of bacteria or gut flora (a.k.a. microbiome) that finish of the digestion process
You might have seen a word in there that you have no idea what it is- microbiome. Let’s talk about this for a second. There is a ton of new and exciting research emerging on how the bacteria, also known as microbiome, influence our health, weight and even the health of our children! Research is finding a link between the bacteria in our GI tracts and obesity and diabetes…crazy! This is really a topic for a whole separate blog but you can learn more about the ongoing research by visiting the Microbiome Project’s website.
How do I get my gut back on track?
To get your gut back on track you must feed your gut what it needs: probiotics and prebiotics. The combination of the two will correct the bacterial imbalance and get you feeling a little more, let’s say regular! So what’s the difference?
Probiotics are living organisms in the GI tract that: