Gut health- why it matters

The benefits of healthy nutrition

RNfinity | 19-01-2023


Introduction

Gut health encompasses a wide range of positive aspects of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including effective digestion and absorption of food, the absence of GI illness, an effective immune status, normal and stable intestinal microbiota, and a state of well-being.

However, it is still unclear how to define it and measure gut health.

The GI barrier, which is located next to the GI microbiota, appears to be the key to understanding the complex mechanisms that keep the gut healthy.

Any impairment of the GI barrier increases the risk of developing inflammatory, and functional GI diseases, infectious, as well as extraintestinal diseases such as immune-mediated and metabolic disorders.

There are five major criteria that could form the basis of and objective definition of gut health.

1.    Effective digestion and absorption of food

·        Normal nutritional status and efficient absorption of food, water, and minerals.

·        Regular bowel movements, a normal transit time, and no abdominal pain.

·        Normal stool consistency and infrequent bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.

2.    Absence of GI illness

·        No carbohydrate intolerance or enzyme deficiencies.

·        No gastroesophageal reflux disease, acid peptic disease, or other gastric inflammatory diseases.

·        No GI or colorectal cancer.

·        No celiac disease, IBD, or other inflammatory states.

3.    Normal and stable intestinal microbiota

·        Normal gut microbiome composition and vitality.

·        No excessive bacterial growth

·        No gastrointestinal infections or antibiotic-related diarrhea.

4.    Effective immune status

·        Normal IgA levels, normal numbers, and activity of immune cells.

·        Normal mucus production, effective GI barrier function, and no enhanced bacterial translocation.

·        Immune tolerance, as well as no allergy or mucosal hypersensitivity.

5.    Status of well-being

·        'Qi (ch'i),' or a good gut feeling.

·        Normal quality of life.

·        The normal function of the enteric nervous system and balanced serotonin production.

The gastrointestinal tract contributes to health by ensuring nutrient, mineral, and fluid digestion and absorption; inducing mucosal and systemic tolerance; defending the host against infectious and other pathogens; and signaling from the periphery to the brain.


 


How to Test Gut Health?

Diagnostic techniques must include both subjective complaints and objective parameters to evaluate gut health.

It is impossible to evaluate complaints without first recording a person's history through a questionnaire or engaging in a structured personal conversation, like one with a doctor.

Questionnaires are a good way to screen people and familiarize them with this specific problem, ideally in combination with some biomarkers of prognostic relevance.

This approach necessitates the development of validated questionnaires for bowel-related complaints and symptoms, allowing doctors to record improvements in well-being, quality of life, and prognosis in specific populations.

One such questionnaire is the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire (IBDQ), a reliable and validated tool used to assess the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of adult patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBD.



How to Maintain Gut Health?

There are numerous strategies that can be used to support GI health and the gut.

Hygiene is associated with many approaches to maintaining gut health and preventing GI diseases such as infection, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, IBD, IBS, food allergy, and so on.

This concept maintains that any disruption in the balance between the microbiome and the mucosal immune system will lead to GI barrier impairment and, as a result, an increased risk of gut health and the development of GI disease.

Avoid any conditions that might disturb the intestinal microbiome and the mucosal immune system.

These conditions include extreme exercise, chronic stress, an unbalanced diet, and a lack of physical activity.

The following can help to maintain good gut health: -

·        Smokers should abstain from using tobacco.

·        Drink alcohol in moderation.

·        Maintain a healthy weight.

·        Avoid taking NSAIDs.

·        Stress management.

Diets high in fat and fructose have been shown to disrupt the GI barrier, leading to the development of fatty liver disease and subclinical inflammatory conditions associated with metabolic disturbances.

On the other hand, dietary changes have been shown to support the prevention of serious conditions like cancer, obesity, and allergies.

As a result, a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and fiber, as well as moderate consumption of red meat, can help prevent colon cancer.

Meditative methods originating from traditional Chinese medicine and other Asian cultures (for example, ayurveda and tai-chi) are gaining popularity and acceptance among health professionals as valuable tools for maintaining gut health and overall well-being.

An interesting possibility is whether gut health can be improved further by using modulators of the intestinal microbiome or the GI barrier, such as probiotics or prebiotics.

Selected probiotics can prevent pathogenic bacteria from adhering to the intestinal mucosa or restore a leaky gut by improving the molecular composition of tight junctions.

Furthermore, probiotic bacteria can help in the normal development of the mucosal immune system, such as through the C-C chemokine receptor 6 (CCR6) gene expressed on lamina propria lymphocytes and the production of protective IgA and antimicrobial defensins.



The Relationship Between Diets and Diseases

Food and health have a complex relationship.

Everyone requires food to stay alive, but eating too little, too much, or the wrong type of food can be harmful to one's health.

According to research, consuming excessive amounts or insufficient amounts of particular foods and nutrients can increase the risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Excess sodium consumption was linked to the highest percentage of deaths from cardiometabolic disease (9.5%).

A higher risk of death was associated with an inadequate intake of whole grains (5.9%), vegetables (7.6%), fruits (7.5%), nuts and seeds (8.5%), seafood omega-3 fats (7.8%), and polyunsaturated fats (2.3%).

The risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes-related deaths was also increased by consuming too much-processed meat (8.2%), sugar-sweetened beverages (7.4%), and unprocessed red meat (0.4%).

These findings suggest dietary modifications that might promote health.


The Role of Probiotics on Gut Health

A probiotic is a live microorganism that, when administered in sufficient amounts, provides health benefits to the host.

There is growing interest in beneficial microbes that perform specific functions in the human gut and can be used in foods or supplements to improve health and prevent and treat diseases.

Probiotic consumption has the following advantages:

·        Improvement of intestinal tract health through microbiota regulation.

·        Immune system development and stimulation.

·        Enhancing and synthesizing nutrient bioavailability.

·        Reducing lactose intolerance symptoms and the risk of certain diseases.

·        Probiotics can maintain/colonize the human digestive system and fight harmful microorganisms in any situation.

·        Probiotics promote our health through a variety of mechanisms and assist in breaking down food into much smaller complexes through fermentation.

The following health conditions are actively supported by probiotics:

·        Pulverize the pathogens' or microorganisms' symptoms.

·        helps our digestive system by reducing the work it has to do.

·        Their biofilm protects our digestive system.

·        Reduce the amount of food that our bodies need because any amount of food can be properly absorbed and digested.


Healthy Diet Recommendations

A healthy diet is one in which macronutrients are consumed in adequate proportions to support energetic and physiologic needs while also providing adequate micronutrients and hydration to meet the body's physiologic needs.

Healthy eating can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems.

A healthy eating plan focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.

Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) provide the energy required for cellular processes that occur daily.

Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are needed in small amounts for normal growth, development, metabolism, and physiologic functioning.

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the diet and are plentiful in grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables.

Whole grains are preferred to processed grains.

Fresh fruits and vegetables provide energy as well as dietary fiber, which promotes satiety and has positive effects on gastrointestinal function, cholesterol levels, and glycemic control.

Dietary proteins provide both energy and amino acids, including those that the human body requires but cannot produce on its own (i.e., essential amino acids).

Dietary proteins can be found in both plant (legumes, soya products, grains, nuts, and seeds) and animal (meat, dairy, fish, and eggs) sources.

The four types of dietary fats are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.

Food fat content is typically a mix of these different types.

Unsaturated fats can be found in a variety of foods, including fish, many derived oils, nuts, and seeds, whereas animal products (and some plant-derived oils) contain more saturated fats.

Unsaturated dietary fats are associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality, whereas trans fats and, to a lesser extent, saturated dietary fats are associated with harmful effects on health.

Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are referred to as essential fatty acids because they are needed for healthy growth and reproduction but cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be obtained through diet.

Adequate dietary intake or supplementation with antioxidant micronutrients (e.g., vitamins A, C, and E, copper, zinc, and selenium) has been suggested as a way to reduce the risk of and progression of age-related diseases.

Water is the most important component of the body, accounting for the vast majority of lean body mass and total body weight.

Water not only provides hydration but also transports micronutrients such as trace elements and electrolytes.

Drinking water may provide up to 20% of the daily recommended calcium and magnesium intake.




Summary

Gut health encompasses a wide range of positive aspects of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including effective digestion and absorption of food, the absence of GI illness, an effective immune status, normal and stable intestinal microbiota, and a state of well-being.

Any impairment of the GI barrier increases the risk of developing inflammatory, and functional GI diseases, infectious, as well as extraintestinal diseases such as immune-mediated and metabolic disorders.

There are five major criteria that could form the basis for a positive and objective definition of gut health.

1.     Effective digestion and absorption of food

2.     Absence of GI illness

3.     Normal and stable intestinal microbiota

4.     Effective immune status

5.     Status of well-being

Diagnostic techniques must include both subjective complaints and objective parameters to evaluate gut health.

Questionnaires are a good way to screen a population and familiarize people with this specific problem, ideally in combination with some biomarkers of prognostic relevance.

There are numerous strategies that can be used to support GI health and the gut.

To maintain good gut health, one should abstain from using tobacco, drink alcohol in moderation, maintain a healthy weight, avoid taking NSAIDs, and manage stress.

Hygiene is associated with many approaches to maintaining gut health and preventing GI diseases such as infection, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, IBD, IBS, food allergy, and so on.

Diets high in fat and fructose have been shown to disrupt the GI barrier, leading to the development of fatty liver disease and subclinical inflammatory conditions associated with metabolic disturbances.

A probiotic is a live microorganism that, when administered in sufficient amounts, provides health benefits to the host.

Probiotic consumption has the following advantages:

·        Improvement of intestinal tract health through microbiota regulation.

·        Immune system development and stimulation.

·        Enhancing and synthesizing nutrient bioavailability.

·        Reducing lactose intolerance symptoms and the risk of certain diseases.

·        Probiotics can maintain/colonize the human digestive system and fight harmful microorganisms in any situation.

A healthy diet is one in which macronutrients are consumed in adequate proportions to support energetic and physiologic needs while also providing adequate micronutrients and hydration to meet the body's physiologic needs.

Healthy eating can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems.

A healthy eating plan focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.


References

1.     'Gut Health': A NewObjective in Medicine? - Researchgate.

2.     “How Dietary Factors InfluenceDisease Risk.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Healthand Human Services, 21 Mar. 2017,"

3.     Bleich SN;Jones-Smith J;WolfsonJA;Zhu X;Story M; “The Complex Relationship between Diet and Health.” HealthAffairs (Project Hope), U.S. National Library of Medicine

4.     (PDF) Health-Benefits-of-Probiotics- Researchgate.

5.     Defining a Healthy Diet:Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary