top of page

Your Gut: The quintessential health hub

Leaky gut, gut dysbiosis, gut microbiome, gut-brain axis….There's a big bunch of gut-related words that have gotten very popular in the last few years in the world of medicine. But just why is your gut so important that it’s activities would be deemed as one of the most important markers of good health?

Explore with me for a minute: think of your body as your favorite car, maybe that Porsche, Chrysler or heavy-duty truck that you dream of. For that car to function, it needs a mighty load of inputs: fuel, spare parts, maintenance checks, you name it. Without this, that Porsche is as good as a deadbeat. The same for your body; without proper nourishment, your body is as good as dead. Now, the gut is the hub where all the action happens. This is where the food you take in, is broken down and metabolized into useful components. Your gut is like the engine of your Porsche where the fuel is combusted to push the car forward. A Porsche ain't no good without an engine and neither is your body any good without a healthy gut!


Do you often find yourself saying ‘ I have a gut feeling about this or that’? Or ‘ she’s got guts?’. Some people like to say that the gut is the center of intuition, the home of deep-seated feelings and convictions. Gut feelings are things that you just KNOW. In traditional Chinese medicine, the link between the gut and all of the body’s organs has been recognized for thousands of years. According to TCM, the Spleen and Stomach comprise the Earth element. The Spleen is responsible for the digestion and transformation of food to produce Qi energy, blood, and fluids. At the same time, the spleen is also considered the organ that governs our thinking processes and so together the spleen and stomach digest not only food but also thoughts, ideas and emotions. A healthy gut supports proper digestion, which then supports healthy detoxification ultimately resulting in clarity of mind

Recent research has made a deep-dive into the gut-brain connection and it is very evident that a very primal connection exists between the gut and the brain. The gut and brain are intimately connected by an extensive network of neurons and a super highway of chemicals and hormones that are consistently providing feedback to the brain on the state of our digestion and emotions. This information superhighway is what is referred to as the brain-gut axis.


About a hundred trillion microorganisms make up your gut microbiome. Interestingly, your gut microbiome houses 10 times more bacterial cells than the number of human cells in your entire body! While bacteria on the outside of your body can cause serious infections, the bacteria inside your body can protect against it. The microbiota has long been proven to profoundly shape mammalian immunity. It has even been found that 70-80% of your immune cells reside in your gut.

Your microbiota has a symbiotic relationship with you as it’s host. You feed the bacteria and in turn, the bacteria aids in food metabolism by breaking down complex carbohydrates to short-chain fatty acids, it also helps the process of nutrient and mineral absorption as well as synthesis of enzymes, vitamins & amino acids. A healthy gut is a balanced gut where there is just enough of the good bacteria doing all the good stuff so that when the pesky bad bacteria crops up, it is quickly outrun and silenced by the good bacteria. When this situation is in balance it is called gut symbiosis and when it's out of balance it is gut dysbiosis.

Gut dysbiosis is when the bad guys begin to run the show, meaning the gut isn't processing food as well as it should, eventually leading to leaky gut, where the gut lining gets so inflamed it begins to leak food molecules directly into your bloodstream. The bad news is that most people on the standard western diet actually have gut dysbiosis. Our modern lifestyles lack enough fibre and sufficient exposure to healthy bacteria. The good news is that it takes just a short while and some intentional lifestyle changes to turn the situation around for good.


Like most things in life, It’s not necessarily just one big trigger that catapults things from healthy to unhealthy; more often it’s persistent, chronic exposure to seemingly small things that start to pile up. In the same way, making small, consistent lifestyle changes also promises great improvement in gut function. Below I will tell you just how to do this!

1. Enjoy a diet high in fiber, good quality fats, and fruits and vegetables. Get friendly with your plant foods. The more diverse, the more nutrients, fibre varieties and phytochemicals you absorb so aim to get at least 5 -10 different coloured fruits and vegetables in your diet daily. A mention goes out to leafy greens from the Brassicaceae family i.e broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, collards. These guys are fibre and nutritional powerhouses. FYI : Your microbiome's fav food is fibre rich plants.

2. Reduce or preferably eliminate sugar and processed foods - Sugar is no friend to your microbiome, do not be fooled. Sugar favors the growth of unwanted bad bacteria which contributes to chronic inflammation, weight gain and gut dysfunction. Eating a diet of highly processed foods also has been shown to have a detrimental impact on gut health to reduce your microbiome diversity significantly. so bye bye processed foods too!

3. Repopulate your Gut with the Good guys: There are certain foods that do wonders for your gut and these are pre-and probiotic rich foods. Prebiotics are fiber rich plant foods that contain special forms of starch, fructooligosaccharides and inulin, which beneficial bacteria thrive on and in turn produce important nutrients. Prebiotic foods include artichokes, garlic, leeks, onion, asparagus, beetroot, green peas, grapefruit, and legumes. Probiotics can be gotten from fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These foods provide beneficial species of bacteria to repopulate your gut microbiome. You can also add a good-quality probiotic supplement to help restore the normal balance of your gut microbiome.

4. Watch out for chronic stress - Here we go again with the never-ending stress song! Remember that communication between brain and gut? When you are stressed out, your gut gets stressed out too and can easily lead to a leaky gut. There are a million different ways to chill out and relax, find the one you love and do it regularly. Your gut will sure thank you for it.

5. Avoid overuse of antibiotics- Antibiotics are phenomenal; they have allowed millions of lives to be saved and they certainly play an important role in modern medicine. However, overuse of antibiotics is problematic because the antibiotic medication is not selective so when you have an infection, it doesn't only kill the bad bacteria but also kills some of the good bacteria in your gut. This eventually leads to a low microbial diversity.

6. Get some good zzzzz’s regularly - Most of your serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin is a hormone whose levels in the brain affect sleep-wake cycles. A healthy gut means optimum serotonin levels which means better sleep and vice versa.

7. Get moving - daily movement is an important part of microbiome health as well as generally helping to move things along in the digestive tract.

8. Live a microbial diverse lifestyle: Any activity that brings you into contact with soil, plant life, and pets or animals that spend time outdoors, increases your opportunity for exposure to microbial diversity. So play with your pet, go barefoot, get in your garden and occasionally roll around in the soil with your kids. Where possible, avoid over-sanitizing ( not an easy one in these Covid- times).

There you have it, a few simple tips to get going in some good ol’ gut-loving!


bottom of page