Did you know that approximately 70 percent of the immune system is ruled by the gut?
More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates — the father of modern medicine — suggested that all disease begins in the gut. Though Hippocrates was incorrect in suggesting that all disease begins in your gut, evidence shows that many chronic metabolic diseases do. In fact, “the gut” is intrinsically linked to bettering overall health and wellness.
“The gut” refers to the entire gastrointestinal tract. It starts at the mouth, travels through the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine/colon, and ends at the rectum. The main function of the gut is digestion which is both a mechanical and chemical process.
A key component in digestion is gut flora – a complex ecosystem of microorganisms that live in the intestines. These microorganisms are primarily made up of good bacteria and small amounts of other microbes, such as fungi.
These create a defensive barrier in the intestinal tract preventing harmful substances from reaching our bloodstream. And a long-term imbalance of gut flora can compromise this barrier and cause inflammation, infection, and disease.
Still, chronic inflammation is incredibly complex, and scientists are just beginning to explore how inflammation and diet may be connected.
It’s likely that the general healthfulness of your diet and lifestyle affects your risk of chronic inflammation and conditions linked to it, rather than a single dietary cause.
The Bottom Line
Keep yourself and your gut healthy. Diet and lifestyle factors, including poor sleep quality, alcohol consumption and inactivity, can harm your gut bacteria. It’s best to focus on an overall healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise, good sleep, and a diet based on real foods.