FAQ: 10 frequently asked questions about gut health
What is gut health? Why is it good for general health and well-being? What role do microbiota play? Why does stress affect the stomach so much? How can I improve digestive health?
Dr. Ámina Alani, digestive health expert at SHA Wellness Clinic, answers all these questions and more.
- What is gut health?
Gut health ensures the proper functioning of the digestive tract, in turn helping the proper digestion of nutrients the body needs and subsequently shuffling the waste generating out of the body. It also ensures the balance of the microbiota, which play an important role in the body: energetic and metabolic, they protect against other pathogenic germs and their excessive growth in the intestine, strengthen the immune system, etc.
- Why is good gut health so important for general health and well-being?
The digestive system is interconnected with the rest of the body, particularly the central nervous system and the immune system, which means that good digestive health is reflected in good overall health. I like to say that the digestive system is like a “balancer” for the body.
- What is gut microbiota?
The microbiota can be defined as the set of micro-organisms found in a certain environment of the body. The microbiota located in the intestinal tract, for example, are referred to as the gut microbiota.
- What is the role of microbiota?
First, it impacts the metabolism and digestion. It also plays a protective role against pathogens and is a decisive factor in the development and maturation of the immune system.
- How can I improve my gut health and anticipate digestive problems?
In general, by leading a healthy lifestyle. Increase the consumption of prebiotic and probiotic foods, learn to manage stress, exercise, get adequate rest and promote breastfeeding, among other healthy habits.
- Which foods help good digestion?
Anti-inflammatory foods that do not irritate the digestive mucosa help keep the intestine healthy and, therefore, in good health. Vegetables, garlic, onions, asparagus, fruit, cereals, pulses, seeds and olive oil should be staples in a healthy diet.
- What is the relationship between the gut and the immune system?
The two are a mirror image of each other. A bad gut leads to a weak immune system, and vice versa. The effect is therefore a two-way street: if one system is weak, so is the other.
- Why do emotions have such a strong influence on the digestive system?
Think about the digestive system as a second brain. Emotions and thoughts are communicated to the gut, and you might hear about the gut-brain axis as a result of this connection. Our emotional state influences our digestive health and vice versa.
- How do coffee, alcohol and medicines affect gut health?
Alcohol and medicines can irritate the intestinal mucosa and lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiota (dysbiosis). Among the factors affecting the microbiome of our digestive system, scientists underscore the role of medications. Taking medications like antibiotics, laxatives, female hormones, antidepressants and antihistamines alters the composition of the gut microbiota. Studies have shown that coffee has a positive effect on gut microbiota, as it works as a prebiotic. Coffee contains soluble fibre, mainly arabinogalactans and galactomannans.
- How should prevention and treatment of the intestinal tract be approached?
At SHA Wellness Clinic we are aware of the consequences that caring for the intestinal tract has on our health and that is why we have created a specific department to offer the innovative and multidisciplinary prevention, guidance and treatment of disorders that involve a digestive and microbiota imbalance, as well as the various psychological and organic disorders that generate these imbalances.