What is the gut anyway?
The gut, also referred to as the digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract); a series of organs that include the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine and rectum.
The small intestine has three parts. The first part is called the duodenum. The jejunum is in the middle and the ileum is at the end.
The large intestine includes the appendix, caecum, colon, and rectum. The appendix is a finger-shaped pouch attached to the caecum. The caecum is the first part of the large intestine. The colon is next. The rectum is the end of the large intestine.
Parts of your nervous and circulatory systems help with digestion along with bacteria in your GI tract, also called gut flora or microbiome. Working together, nerves, hormones, bacteria, blood, and the organs of your digestive system digest the foods and liquids you eat or drink each day.
Why is gut health so important?
Understanding how our gut works can help us keep things running more smoothly.
It plays a major role, not only in our gastrointestinal health, but also in the health and wellbeing of our entire body. Our gut makes up two thirds of our immune system. An unhealthy or out of balance gut can cause more than just stomach pain and bloating. It can lead to repeated infections; low vitality and a reduced sense of wellbeing, affecting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients that are vital to our health. This can affect us mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
It is the gateway to our health.
What can upset the balance in the gut?
If you have had one or more of the below, then it is highly likely that your gut is out of balance.
- Repeated antibiotics
- Food poisoning
- The contraceptive pill
- HRT/ hormone treatment
- Long periods of stress
- Severe diarrhoea/vomiting bugs
- Long courses of any medication
- Worm treatment
- Poor diet and an excess of sugar
- Excess alcohol
We are born without any gut flora; we rely on what we have inherited from our mother. The gut flora starts to develop at around 6 months old and continues to develop until we are around 2 ½ years old.
TThere are a lot of things that can then interfere with our gut flora. In children, this is mainly antibiotic’s as they kill off all bacteria, including the good bacteria that we need to maintain a healthy gut. Strong medication in children like anti worm treatment can often kill the good bacteria too.
The gut consists of approx. 80% good bacteria and approx. 20% yeasts.
Hormone treatments such as the contraceptive pill, HRT, steroids all encourage the growth of yeast in the gut along with long periods of stress as this raises our adrenaline hormone levels, which in turn feed the yeasts.
Do you suffer from signs of an unhealthy gut?
- Acid reflux
- Erratic bowel
- Bowel spasm pain or bowel urgency
- Fatigue/lack of energy
- Weight gain
- Joint pain
- Mood swings
- Menopausal/hormone Imbalance
- Behavioral problems/ADHD
- Skin conditions
- Food cravings
What can support it?
- Reduce & manage stress
- Eat well
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Stay active
Not all foods suit everyone and what we eat can directly affect how we feel.
For years we have been testing clients for food intolerances and giving advice on foods to avoid and recipe suggestions. For many people foods like curries or Mediterranean sauces are often out of the question.
Bellygoodness as a company evolved in response to a need for a range of natural, healthy, gentle but tasty sauces so that the diet can remain interesting and varied whilst avoiding the common foods that can irritate/antagonise the gut, whether it is acid reflux in the upper digestion or IBS in the lower abdomen.
Our sauces do not contain gluten, dairy, yeast, sugar, onions, garlic, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, sugar, artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours or preservatives.
Our Nutritionists and Creative Sauceress’ have very skilfully produced a range of six tasty sauces that eliminate the common trigger foods and where possible rebalance the gut. The sauces can also be used during an elimination regime. Very often once the gut has been rebalanced it may be possible to reintroduce the foods in moderation, although many people choose to continue using our gentle sauces, as they feel safe with them.
What is gluten and why does it affect me?
Gluten is the protein in grains – wheat, oats, rye and barley.
When the gut flora is out of balance and there is an overgrowth of yeast in the gut, the gut becomes more sensitive and reacts to more food groups. Gluten is often the first food group that is difficult to digest.
There is a condition called coeliac in which the villi (the finger like projections in the intestine that move the food through) are damaged and as a consequence, the gut is unable to process gluten.
‘I can’t understand why I have symptoms, I am eating a healthy diet’
By a healthy diet most people consider fruit and green leafy vegetables the perfect diet, however if your gut is fermenting, these normally healthy foods will encourage the fermentation which will lead to bloating, wind and erratic bowels.
Why do green vegetables affect me?
When the gut flora is out of balance, fermenting vegetables like green leafy veg, onions and garlic, all affect and encourage the yeast overgrowth.
But surely garlic is good for you?
Yes of course garlic has many valuable properties, however when the gut is yeasty and fermenting or feels acidic, then garlic encourages the fermentation and can cause bloating and wind. The combination of onions, garlic and tomatoes can produce severe discomfort for acid reflux sufferers and can feel ‘acidy’ coming into the stomach.
But surely fruit is good for you?
Fruit of course is very nutritious, however over the last few years the attitude has been that the more fruit you have, the better it is for you. We would argue the more fruit you have the more sugar you are having. It us therefore advisable to have fruits that are a low conversion to sugar as part of a balanced diet.
If however you are on a candida elimination diet then you must avoid all fruit until your candida is clear, as even the sugar in the fruit will feed the overgrowth of yeast in the gut.
Surely you must have some sugar in your diet?
Carbohydrates all convert to sugar. That’s all the sugar we need. We do not need any added sugar in our diet. We have sugar because we like it but there is very little nutritive value in it.
How can I reset my digestive system?
We recommend a three-fold approach:
1. Stop feeding the yeast by avoiding all yeast and sugar, inflammatory foods and irritants like alcohol and caffeine.
2. Kill off the yeast with a natural antifungal such as Caprylic Acid. Antifungal drugs are like ‘cutting the grass’, when ideally you need to ‘dig up the roots’
3. Take a good quality probiotic containing Acidophilus (good bacteria).
COMMON GUT ISSUES
Diet & Nutrition
Nutrition can determine our quality of life and sense of wellbeing. Good nutrition is the foundation of good health, good organ function, energy, and food utilisation and cell growth yet many people do not reach their necessary intake levels of vitamins and minerals. This can be due to poor food choice, foods grown in depleted soils, lack of exercise, stress and particularly lack of absorption due to poor gut health.
Common Gut Problems
There are in increasing number of people who suffer from digestive problems.
Irritable bowel syndrome, the spectrum of general digestive unpleasantness, afflicts an estimated 20 per cent of the UK population. More serious, perhaps, are the inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology indicated that inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are emerging as a global problem.
Conditions like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, Hiatus Hernia to name a few are chronic conditions that need long term management. These conditions cannot be cured and mostly have to be managed with medication. Foods are not the cause of these conditions but in our experience foods can aggravate or exacerbate the symptoms and people who suffer from these illnesses often only eat very plain or bland food for fear of flaring their condition. Bellygoodness sauces open up completely new dietary options and recipes.
Candida Albicans (Latin for white fungus) is a member of the yeast family. Given the right conditions, yeast is capable of voluminous growth. Candida is yeast that lives in all of us. It is mainly present in the digestive tract and usually does not cause us any problems.
Also present in the digestive tract are good bacteria. Coupled with a small amount of yeast approximately 80% good bacteria and 20% yeast create the Gut Flora. The gut flora helps the breakdown of foodstuffs and creates the right environment for the food to be utilised.
When the gut flora becomes depleted it allows the yeast to ferment and grow. It can then permeate the gut wall (leaky gut) and become systemic (travel to any site in the body). The growth of the yeast Candida Albicans can lead to a wide variety of mental, emotional or physical disorders, such as:
- Bowel Dysfunction (constipation, diarrhoea, pain, spasms, excess wind, urgency etc.)
- Indigestion (Inc. acid reflux, burning, bad breath)
- Weight gain (despite dieting regimes)
- Thrush vaginal, oral, cystitis, prostatitis, vaginitis and athletes foot
- Food and alcohol cravings
- Hormone imbalance, irregular periods, painful periods, fluid retention
- Loss of libido
- Menopausal syndrome
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression
- Pre menstrual food cravings e.g. sugar, bread, chocolate etc.
- Fatigue/lack of energy
- Poor memory & concentration (foggy brain, forgetfulness)
- Sinus re-current ear nose throat infections
- Immune system low (recurrent infections)
- Hay fever and other allergic responses
- Skin conditions (acne, eczema, rashes, hives etc.)
- Excess sweating
- Body temperature imbalance (either too hot or too cold)
- Behavioral problems e.g. hyperactivity, ADHA
- Muscle aches and joint pains
IBS is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases that affect your digestive system.
The main symptoms of IBS are discomfort in your abdomen, constipation; diarrhoea, bloating, spasms, urgency, flatulence, nausea and can even cause excess mucous.
Food sensitivities can often be the cause of IBS or an aggravation to it. Stress, anxiety and depression are also other known connections.
20% of adults suffer from a few symptoms of IBS but often tests find no physical abnormalities and most people resign themselves to living with the daily discomfort.
You can develop IBS at any age, but you usually have your first symptoms when you’re between 20 and 30. Women are twice as likely to get it as men.
Leaky gut is a consequence of fungal overgrowth e.g. Candida Albicans. The gut wall can become ‘leaky’ so that incompletely digested food molecules can slip into the bloodstream and can cause allergic reactions such as fatigue, skin irritation and various systemic symptoms.
When you are experiencing any form of digestive symptoms that persist, it is always recommended that you consult with your GP and have all the relevant tests. Once any pathology has been eliminated and a diagnosis reached then you can adjust your diet to try and relieve your symptoms.
Certain medicines that your doctor may have prescribed for you for other health conditions can lead to side effects that may upset your tummy and cause indigestion, diarrhea or constipation.
Consult your doctor if you rely on these medicines and are also prone to indigestion or ulcers.
Always tell your doctor if your prescribed medicines are upsetting your tummy.