Gut Health: Our Experts Weigh In

The digestive system is incredibly complex, and digestive health is essential for your overall wellbeing. A healthy gut can boost your mood, immune system, heart health, brain health and sleep. Some studies even suggest that it may help in preventing some cancers and autoimmune diseases. A few diet and lifestyle changes are often all it takes to get your gut healthy and your body happy!

NASTY NIBBLES

Diet and gut heath are very closely linked, and it’s important to eat the right foods so that you can maintain a healthy microbiome. Foods that are highly processed or contain high levels of fat and refined sugar can destroy good bacteria and promote the growth of harmful microbes.

HIGH-FIBRE HELPERS

Studies have shown that high-fibre foods such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus and leeks can promote the growth of good bacteria and improve your overall gut health. Garlic and onions are also shown to boost digestive health, and may even strengthen your immune system and fight against some cancers.

FERMENTED FRIENDS

Fermented foods and drinks such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, tempeh, miso and kefir are good dietary sources of probiotics, and great for your gut!

TUMMY RUMBLES

If you suffer from IBS, acid reflux or regular heartburn, consider testing your pH, as your stomach may be too acidic. You can also help to prevent these conditions by chewing your food slowly and thoroughly – enjoy every bite!

Remember to listen to your gut and keep it healthy, happy and balanced so that you can live life to the fullest!

- MUNEYI M KANYAMA (A.K.A. SIMBA)

Wellness Assistant, Wellness Warehouse V&A Waterfront

---

Leaky gut is an inflammatory condition in which the intestinal epithelial tissues lose their integrity and the junctions between cells become semi-permeable, allowing abnormal reabsorption of intestinal contents and causing a wide range of internal disorders affecting the immune, autonomic nervous, digestive, respiratory and endocrine systems.

The bowel houses lots of microscopic bacteria called flora. In a healthy bowel, there are between 100,000,000,000 and 1000,000,000,000 of them in every millilitre of bowel fluid! There are between 400 and 500 different known species residing in the bowel, of which the best known are the bifidobacterium bifidum. They are known as ‘friendly’, and meant to be there. Each has its place within this little ecosystem - some live in the mucous lining, some on the right side, some on the left, and others on the very end of the colon.

There are many things than can affect gut health, such as over-prescription of antibiotics and other drugs like laxatives, environmental exposure to over 70 000 commercially produced chemicals, and a stressful lifestyle. These can all destroy the balance of the ecosystem, leading to issues such as mucosal inflammation, allergies and disturbances of the bowel wall barrier.

The breakdown of this barrier (called leaky gut) and consequent inflammation result in an increased uptake of antigenic substances across the bowel wall. An example is lipid polysaccharides from bacterial breakdown, which can cause excessive production of nitric oxide - itself an inflammatory mediator and free radical that can cause energy depletion at a cellular level.

It’s worth noting that specific drugs and other substances are known to damage the intestinal barrier. These include caffeine, alcohol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to name a few.

Probiotics are fundamental to re-establishing the protective populations of gut flora. Natural foods that are high in soluble fibre are also the best food for gut bacteria.

As leaky gut is an inflammation of the gut wall, adding the Wellness Warehouse Healing Spices Superfood Blend to your breakfast or smoothies may assist in reducing the inflammation. Eating anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger and black pepper may also help to reduce ongoing and unnecessary inflammation. A good quality vitamin C supplement can support the healing process, and the Wellness Warehouse Adaptogen Complex may help lower the stress that often leads to an unhealthy gut.

- SU LUDEWIG

Cluster Manager, Wellness Warehouse Menlyn Maine & The Grove

---

When I hear about gut health, the first thing that pops into my mind is immunity. Immunity and gut? How do these connect to each other?

Our gut is home to a very large number of microbes collectively known as gut microbiota. The immune system is the group of cells and molecules that protect us from disease by monitoring our body and responding to any foreign substances they perceive as threats, particularly infectious microbes. The immune system has coevolved along with our diverse gut flora - not only to create defences against pathogens, but also to develop a tolerance for beneficial microbes. As a consequence, the immune system and the gut microbiota have developed a mutualistic relationship, regulating one another and cooperating to support each other. The importance of this interaction is clearly highlighted by the fact that 70 to 80 % of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut.

The dialogue between the immune system and the microbiota starts the moment the body comes into contact with microbes – at birth. As we grow, our microbiota shapes the development of our immune system, and the immune system shapes the composition of the microbiota. This communication and mutual regulation is maintained throughout life, and is the key to a healthy interaction between the microbiota and immune system.

When we experience colds and flu or disease, the communication is disrupted and we need to restore it to fight the bacterial infection or disease.

There is a mucosal barrier that separates our gut lining from the billions of microbes in our gut, protecting it from the pathogens and harmful proteins. When the mucosa breaks down, it invites gut inflammation, infection and immune activation. This mucosal barrier is damaged with stress we often don’t even realise we’re experiencing due to the fast-paced nature of our lives.

Metagenics UltraFlora Balance is a dairy-free base for a blend of highly viable probiotic strains to populate your small and large intestine and restore the communication between the microbiota and immune system.

Metagenics Glutagenics is a powerful gastrointestinal lining support with a high dose of glutamine that assists in healing the mucosal barrier.

Wellness Warehouse Adaptogen Complex is a great daily go-to for stress, as the formulation assists the body in dealing with perceived threats, and aids it in preserving energy for the day.

- ABIGAIL CRAFFORD

Store Manager, Wellness Warehouse Woodlands

---

One common gut health challenge is constipation. More than just a troublesome condition, it’s an insidious drain on the health of millions of people. As bowel transit time is increased, the stool becomes hard and difficult to pass due to dehydration.

The symptoms of constipation can include infrequent and/or difficult bowel movements, headaches, a coated tongue, tiredness, bad breath, dullness and even depression.

Most people habitually use laxatives to regulate bowel movements when constipation is a chronic problem. The unfortunate after-effect, however, is that the bowel reacts to this unusual stimulation less and less after each use. When no further bowel movements have occurred after two to three days, a second dose of laxatives is often used – and so the cycle continues, on and on for years and even decades.

A poor diet and lack of exercise play a significant role in constipation. While we don’t usually think of the latter, it removes the mechanical action of the muscle on the intestinal contents, thus slowing bowel actions.

Some great health foods and supplements to include in your daily diet to prevent and support the treatment of constipation include psyllium husk, flaxseed meal and oil, B vitamins, vitamin E, probiotics and bran.

- MIRENDA SIBI

Store Manager, Wellness Warehouse Woodlands

“Wellness Warehouse strives to help you live life well but because we are retailers and not medical practitioners we cannot offer medical advice. Please always consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements, complementary medicines or have any health concerns and ensure that you always read labels, warnings and directions carefully, prior to consumption.”