Optimising Gut Health
Discover the power of your gut and health with nutraceuticals
By Dr Anish Desai
Hippocrates, considered the founder of modern medicine, was the first to consider the importance of the gut to overall wellness by suggesting that all diseases begin in the gut. Gut health is accredited to the physical state and physiologic function of the gastrointestinal tract. Digestive organs such as the oesophagus, stomach, intestine, and microbes play a crucial role in maintaining gut health.
Whether in the short or long term, our diet is a major modifier of microbiota composition and function. The variety of food available, improved economic conditions and people’s lifestyles have created a slew of health-related issues (such as the consumption of manifold junk food). It has created several health problems (imbalance of gut leading to other chronic diseases) related to nutritional deficiencies in food. The gut and brain are interconnected by complex communication and regulation systems known as the gut-brain axis. The axis acts by a bidirectional signalling network consisting of neurons, hormones, immune cells, and microbial molecules. Thus, the GI tract exerts an effect on brain function and vice versa.
The term ‘nutraceutical’, a combination of the words nutrition and pharmaceutical, is defined as ‘a food or part of a food that provides benefits to health in addition to its nutritional content’. Nutraceutical food or its food products can play an important role in disease control by providing numerous health benefits to people all over the world. As it is synthesised from raw herbals, incredible dietary supplements such as nutraceuticals food (involvement in nutritional, immunologic, and physiological functions) can help in the prevention or treatment of many diseases (mitigating gastrointestinal (GI) tract problem), and many rapidly growing industries are reported to synthesise these natural products. Nutraceuticals cannot be discussed without mentioning the human microbiota, which refers to the total microorganisms that colonise the host at various levels such as the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, skin, vagina, and so on.
How to keep the gut healthy?
Maintaining gut health is crucial as the body’s immune system is quite dependent on our GI tract. Balancing gut health has been the talk for a while now and even the medical professionals understand that digestive or gut health is linked to many diseases so keeping our digestive system on track becomes one way to prevent serious illness. Some tips improve gut health are:
Mild to moderate physical activity aids in regular bowel movement and colonic motility.
Avoiding processed food:
Processed food can lead to increased sugar which negatively affects digestive health.
Probiotics have proven to be effective in boosting the number of microorganisms in the gut.
Drinking 8 ounces of water in a day is effective in the maintenance of a healthy gut.
A balanced state of mind and body (gut) leads to a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Daily yoga, meditation, or journaling are found to be effective in relieving stress.
Implementing fiber in your diet:
Increased fiber up to 25 grams will help to maintain a healthy gut
A healthy diet:
A planned healthy diet that will aid in digestion and bowel movement.
Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption:
Caffeine and alcohol are digestive stimulants, and their consumption can lead to disruption of the digestive process.
Role of Nutraceuticals in the maintenance of gut health
Although conventional medicines excel at eliminating or treating diseases, it comes with a heavy price tag as well as to the immunity. Due to its vast and versatile uses and benefits, nutraceuticals have been in the limelight for some time now, this is the reason that nutraceuticals are becoming more widely employed. Some of the majorly employed nutraceuticals to keep one’s gut health in check are:
|Probiotics (yogurt, sauerkraut, miso|
|Restores the normal composition of the microbiota.|
Prevent or reduce the severity of antibiotic associated diarrhoea (AAD).
|Prebiotics (onions, garlic, bananas, chicory root, beans, and skin of apples)||Promotes the growth of beneficial microbial species.|
Helps in lowering the pH level of the intestine,inhibit the growth of intestinal pathogens, and regulate intestinal motility.
|Curcumin||Helps increase the growth of Lactobacillus & decreases Coriobacteriales. |
Anti-inflammatory properties could be potentially used in IBD.
|Aloe vera||The laxative effect of the anthraquinone glycosides helps treat constipation.|
|Licorice||Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-Helicobacter pylori activities.|
|Peppermint oil (capsules)||Helps relieve stomach cramps, bloating, and flatulence, particularly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It works by helping the muscle of the bowel wall to relax.|
|Ginger||Increases gastric motility.|
Accelerates gastric emptying and stimulates antral contractions.
|L-glutamine||Positive impact on sustaining the balance of the gut microbiome.|
Increases the expression of tight junction proteins and the integrity of the intestinal lining.
Positively affects the composition of the intestinal flora of patients with a leaky gut.
|Zinc||Enhances gastrointestinal epithelial barrier function.|
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