The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd Pesek, MD.
It’s amazing to think that we have a 30-foot digestive system living inside of our body! Also known as your gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, this system plays a very important role in converting the food you eat into essential nutrients, which are then absorbed into your body.
You’re likely familiar with the statement, “you are what you eat,” but this is only partially true! I think it is more accurate to suggest that you are what you absorb.
What Does it Mean to Have a “Healthy” Gut?
A healthy gut is one that contains friendly bacteria and immune cells to ward off infectious agents like bad bacteria and viruses. Believe it or not, 70% of your immune system lives inside of your gut, so it only makes sense that two of the main drivers of disease are a compromised immune system and poor digestion.
How Does Gut Bacteria Influence Your Health?
Your gut health depends on the condition of your microbiome, which is a collection of more than 100 trillion bacteria and fungi living within your intestines, mouth and nose.
This might sound impossible, but the bacteria living in your gut actually outnumber the cells of your body by a factor of ten to one. This means you are mostly bacteria!
Typically, when we think of bacteria on our body, we immediately have the urge to break out a bottle of hand sanitizer. Not so fast! Many of these bacteria are beneficial to our health, and destroying them is the worst thing we can do.
Keeping the good bacteria thriving and the bad bacteria at bay can positively affect many key areas of your health, including:
- Overall sense of well-being
- Immune strength
- Digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Reduced risk of developing certain diseases
- Sleep quality
- Lower levels of body fat
Food is the chief energy source for bacteria. This is good news because it means you can assure the survival and growth of good bacteria by simply being more intentional about your food choices.
A healthy digestive system is one that breaks down and absorbs nutrients from the food you eat so you can use it for energy, growth and cell repair. Having a balanced microbiome full of friendly bacteria facilitates digestion, strengthens your immune system and can reduce the risk of certain diseases. In a nutshell, a healthy gut makes for a healthy body.