Gut health is a hot topic right now, as more of us become aware that what goes on in our gut can affect our overall wellbeing. But what is gut health? And more importantly, what is good gut health? Get ready to dive into your gut and find out everything you need to know about taking care of yours.
Gut Health Explained: What Is The Gut Microbiome?
To understand your gut health and how it affects the rest of your body, it’s important to understand your gut microbiome. But what is the gut microbiome?
The gut microbiome is composed of lots of different types of bacteria, and is embedded in the wall of the mucosa (the lining of our large intestine). The composition of our gut microbiome is completely unique, a little like how our fingerprints are. The gut microbiome can contain up to 1,000 different species of bacteria.
So what is the gut microbiome’s origin? Everything from whether you were born via a vaginal delivery or a Caesarean section can influence your gut microbiome, as can whether you were bottle-fed or breastfed as a baby. In fact, the first three years of your life are hugely influential on the make-up of your gut microbiome. When we’re born, our guts are ‘sterile’, containing no bacteria, so this early ‘window of opportunity’ is very important. By the age of three, we pretty much have a fully developed microbiome, similar to an adult one.
The health of your gut microbiome depends on two factors:
- Diversity: this implies how many species of good bacteria you have. The more diversity you have, the healthier your microbiome is. This is because individual bacteria species have specific beneficial roles to play.
- Abundance: this implies how many good bacteria you’ve got in your gut. The higher the quantity of good bacteria you have, the healthier your microbiome is. The good bacteria help to maintain the health of our body in many ways; for example, stimulating our immune system, producing healthy products like Short-Chain Fatty Acids, and suppressing the growth of bad bacteria.
Our microbiome doesn’t vary much day-to-day. Factors such as a change in diet or taking new medicines may introduce significant changes. All of these factors can influence your gut health score. Take our Gut Health Quiz to find out more about yours.
So, what is the gut microbiome’s main purpose? The bacteria found in your gut help you to digest foods, but they also work all over your body with studies showing links between gut health and mental health, mood, the immune system, sleep, skin conditions, and even cancer. This means that knowing how to fix your gut health can be incredibly useful for addressing different aspects of both your physical and mental health.
What Is The Gut-Brain Axis?
The reason why the gut microbiome can have an impact on your mental health, mood, and general wellbeing is due to your gut-brain axis. But what is the gut-brain axis?
The gut-brain axis is a communication system between your gut and your brain. The microbiota in your gut speaks to the neurons in your brain by way of the vagus nerve, which is one of the largest nerves connecting the gut and brain. These chemical signals are transmitted within milliseconds. The 500 million neurons in your gut are in direct contact with the billion neurons in your brain. That’s why they’re known as the ‘brain in your gut’.
The gut and brain are connected through neurotransmitters. These chemicals are produced in the brain and control feelings and emotions. One of the most important neurotransmitters is serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone’. A huge 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut, not the other way around as many people think.
Another neurotransmitter produced by your gut microbes is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which controls feelings of fear and anxiety. Studies show that increased GABA can lower anxiety and depression-related behaviours.
Our Gut & Brain Pack is designed specifically for your gut-brain axis, thanks to the specially formulated blend of vitamins, nutrients, prebiotics, and nootropics in our Aguulp for Gut and Aguulp for Brain supplements.
Gut Health And Immunity
There’s a strong link between our gut health and our overall immunity, with research suggesting that having a ‘poorly functioning’ gut increases the probability of catching colds, flus, and viruses. This is because a poorly functioning gut can attack the digestive tract, as there will be few healthy microbes to fight them off. Our in-house Aguulp nutritionist explains:
“A significant factor as to how well our immune system works is the health and status of our digestive system, since it is a major part of our immune system. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 70% of our immunity is found in the gut and therefore it is vital to ensure the digestive system is functioning optimally in order to see benefits to our immune health.”
Check out our Gut & Immunity Dual Pack, which is designed to provide you with the vitamins, nutrients, prebiotics, and plant extracts needed to improve your gut health and take care of your immunity at the same time.
How To Improve Gut Health
Knowing how to improve gut health can be incredibly empowering, potentially helping you to address everything from your digestion to your mood and even your skin. But the journey towards a healthier gut isn’t straightforward: stress, a bad diet, sleep issues, gut-disrupting medicines, vitamin deficiencies, and infections can all contribute to a reduction in healthy gut microbiota.
Once you know how to improve gut health, you may experience many of the benefits that come with looking after your physical wellbeing, which can include better mental wellbeing, more energy, and the mindset to make better decisions and enjoy a happier life.
Certain lifestyle habits will affect your levels of good gut bacteria and the abundance of it, more than others. So, what is good for gut health? We recommend assessing the following steps on your journey to improve your gut health.
1. Review Your Diet
One of the first factors to assess when you’re looking into how to fix your gut health should be your diet. Foods and ingredients that can negatively affect your gut microbiome include:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Saturated fats
- Processed foods
Lowering your intake of these will help to improve your gut health. Diversifying your diet also contributes to a flourishing gut flora. Fruits and vegetables are full of fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods has numerous health benefits, with nutrients and antioxidants working to protect the body from harmful free radicals, alongside improving gut health by helping to increase the diversity of your gut microbiota. Certain fibre-rich foods can also have a prebiotic effect on the gut, which means they work to feed beneficial gut microbiota. Examples of prebiotic foods that work to feed the intestinal microbiota that you can introduce into your diet include:
- Green bananas
- Cold potatoes
When you’re researching how to improve gut health, it’s likely that you’ll come across lots of talk on fermented foods, which fall into the category of probiotic foods. Incorporating these into your diet is another great way to improve your gut health, with examples including:
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Bio/live yoghurts
- Soy sauce
You might like to take extra steps to improve your digestion by taking a prebiotic supplement, like our Aguulp for Gut formula. Our gut health supplement contains a number of essential nutrients that help to support a healthy gut, including Inulin which is a soluble fibre that increases the frequency of your bowel movements while also slowing digestion, enabling your body to better absorb nutrients from the food you eat.
2. Lower Your Alcohol Consumption
If you’re serious about learning how to improve gut health to benefit your overall wellbeing, you should consider lowering your alcohol consumption.
Heavy alcohol consumption can stimulate the overgrowth of harmful bacteria while reducing the population of helpful bacteria. This can lead to inflammation as well as a number of other health-related issues. Lowering your alcohol intake can help to improve your gut health, so try to cut down how much you’re drinking each week.
3. Exercise Regularly
Did you know that exercise can also help to improve your gut health? Exercise’s role with our mental wellbeing is very well documented, as are the links between your gut and mental health. For example, exercise can help to reduce stress hormones (which affect the microbes in your gut), and encourage healthy bowel movements – a digestive walk is a real thing and can even help control blood sugar!. Exercising regularly for just six weeks could have a positive impact on your gut microbiome.
Remember to stay hydrated while you exercise too; 70% of your body is made up of water, so it’s unsurprising to hear that hydration plays a fundamental role in our health and wellbeing, and a big part of this stems from its role within our gut. Water ensures that everything we eat passes through the body, helps keep the bacteria in our gut well-balanced, and encourages the growth of probiotics.
If you’re exercising more regularly on your quest to improve your gut health, we recommend Aguulp for Recovery, a gut health supplement that contains an energising blend of electrolytes and nutrients. This helps to revive and replenish what you’ve lost after exercise, ensuring peak performance all day every day.
4. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Poor, disrupted sleep can affect your gut health, so if you want to know how to fix your gut health, you should look at your sleep routine too.
Bad sleep can lead to an unhappy gut, as sleep deprivation increases your cravings for fatty and sugary foods. This lowers your levels of leptin (leptin inhibits your hunger) and increases levels of ghrelin (ghrelin is often called the ‘hunger hormone’), while ramping up production of cortisol (aka the ‘stress hormone’ which increases appetite and motivation – motivation to eat). Science lesson over.
It’ll therefore come as little surprise that gut health and sleep are intrinsically linked. When you don’t get enough sleep, this affects your gut and vice versa. Find out more about the link between gut health and sleep, and check out Aguulp for Sleep, which is designed to help you drift off into a better sleep.
5. Reduce Stress Levels
Stress plays an important role in our lives. But did you know that low levels of stress actually help to improve cognitive function, increase productivity, and boost the immune system?
Stress becomes a problem when we experience high levels of it and over sustained periods, causing us to experience everything from fatigue and tiredness to mental and physical burnout. It can also wreak havoc with our gut and digestion. Exercise is a great remedy to combat stress, while deep breathing techniques and meditation can also help to reduce stress, lower inflammation, and relieve an overstressed digestive system.
6. Gut Health Supplements
At Aguulp, our gut health supplements should be the final piece in the puzzle when it comes to knowing how to improve gut health over the long term. Supplements say it in the name, they supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle, so we recommend making sure you’re already eating a gut-friendly diet, exercising regularly, and getting a good night’s sleep before you start incorporating supplements into your routine.
When you first start taking gut health supplements, there can be a drastic change in your gut health, which your body won’t be used to. The state of your gut health can go up and go down and it can be a little chaotic until everything settles down. Achieving optimal gut health also takes time. It’s not a quick fix and that’s why our Gut It All 12-Week Programme is three months long, as we know that not everyone will experience benefits after a month or two; the journey to improve gut health is a long game and we should endeavour to adopt habits to ensure we continue to strive for the best results.
If you’re introducing the powerful Aguulp for Gut formula into your routine for the first time, your body might not be used to the sudden increase in fibre. To reduce any initial symptoms, we suggest limiting the amount you consume to begin with; start by taking ½ a sachet per day, then as your body gets used to gut health supplements and your symptoms calm down, you can progress to a full sachet per day. Take our Aguulp Gut Test to find out if our supplements could benefit you.
Look After Your Gut With Aguulp Gut Health Supplements
Aguulp gut health supplements are designed to make looking after your gut health easy. Take steps to improve your gut health, stimulate the growth of good gut bacteria, and look after everything from your immunity to your cognitive health with our range of specially formulated gut health supplements.
Aguulp was founded to offer an effective alternative to traditional pills or vitamins. Did you know most traditional pill-from vitamins only offer up to 20% nutritional absorption? Our little gut health supplement shots offer up to 98%! We know that liquid supplements offer good absorption and a solution for good health that’s easy and accessible for everyone.
Sign up for a monthly gut health supplement subscription to look after your gut microbiome long term. Remember: health starts in the gut. Discover our full range of gut health supplements today.