We are both fascinated by the GUT and the huge effect it can have on our overall health and wellbeing. We’ve both read lots of books to try and understand more about it including ‘The Gut Makeover’ and ‘The Diet Myth’, but we still had some burning questions so got in touch with Libby Limon who is a degree qualified, London based Nutritional Therapist as well as fully qualified and experienced yoga teacher and an expert in gut health.
The Gut Q&A
1) For those that don’t know… could you explain a little bit about the gut, what it is/does and how it works?
The primary function of the gut is to help break down and digest food in the stomach. However, it also plays a key role in boosting our immune system, mental health and helps to detoxify the body.
The gut is made up of different sections that all play a vital part in the detoxifying process – the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. The gut contains different substances that are produced to facilitate the digestion process, including enzymes, stomach acid, bile and gut flora bacteria.
2) Why is gut health so important?
Gut health is crucial for helping to optimise your health. By neglecting your gut health, many areas of our functional health can be suboptimal. Your gut health has been proven to directly relate to everything from poor skin health to hormonal imbalances and anxiety. Your gut forms a layer of protection from the outside environment, so without its protection, the immune system is exposed.
Experiencing painful or unpleasant gut symptoms on a daily basis can be debilitating, so holistic nutrients can help to manage these problems. More often than not, gut function can be managed well and often resolved with good dietary advice, including the right supplements such as Aloe Vera and probiotics. It shouldn’t be a ‘life-sentence’ for anyone.
3) Can gut health affect your mental health?
Gut health can definitely affect the mental state of the brain, particularly as 80% of serotonin, your happy neurotransmitter, is produced in the gut. If your body doesn’t produce a healthy amount of serotonin with the presence of beneficial gut flora, you will be more prone to low moods and anxiety.
4) What is an intolerance?
An intolerance is a complicated symptom and doesn’t have a straightforward answer. An intolerance prohibits someone from breaking down and absorbing a food molecule, or causes symptoms such as brain fog or skin inflammation when that food is consumed.
There are true intolerances, where you don’t have the enzymes to break certain foods down. This is true for people who are lactose intolerant. Equally poor gut function can lead to the development of an intolerance. In most cases, these tolerances can be reversed if caught early enough and the gut is supported correctly.
However, if an intolerance has become an auto-immune condition, such as gluten, hashimotos thyroiditis or celiac, then it is harder to treat or improve. I would urge people to look at the function of the gut and seek professional advice/investigations before cutting out foods as this may be counterproductive.
An unhealthy gut can often cause the same symptoms as an intolerance, leading us to cut out unnecessary food groups from our diet. Simply keeping the gut healthy with a good diet and the right supplements.
5) What can we do to look after our gut?
Consuming lots of soluble fibre such as Aloe Vera, chia seeds, flax seeds, starchy veg, low sugar fruits, oats and rye can help transform your gut.
Soluble fibre aids the gut in two major ways. Firstly, it softens, bulks and helps motility through the gut, and secondly it feeds beneficial bacteria that keeps the gut healthy. Another way of boosting gut health is to consume natural probiotics such as raw or fermented foods, like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha.
6) What are the worst things to do for our gut? Eg food, alcohol etc
Stress and antibiotics are probably the two worse things that effect our gut. The rise in both of these over the last 50-70 years is most likely linked to the rise in conditions such as IBS. Alcohol, coffee, red meats (especially cured meats) can all cause inflammation in the gut lining too.
7) Why does stress affect the gut?
Stress is thought to affect the gut via the flora and also the immune system. Stress sends blood flow away from the digestive system so that it concentrates energy to fight or flight muscles. This is why people who experience high levels of stress are usually have slower metabolisms and may suffer with more digestive issues.
8) Anymore facts about the gut that we should know?
There is so much more knowledge and research in the area of gut health. With the right investigation and help, you can resolve the issues easily.
More about Libby Limon
Libby Limon is an independent Nutritional Therapist, Nutrition Consultant and Yoga Teacher, she has busy clinics in Online and Marylebone and teaches studio yoga classes in Victoria. On the corporate side, she has worked on various projects, workshops, recipe development/collections, wellbeing seminars with a number of brands and corporations, even created the ‘World’s healthiest burger’.
Libby’s view on Aloe Vera and how it can help the gut:
Aloe Vera works in a unique way by supporting the digestive process from all angles. Not only does it soothe the process but it also enhances absorption of nutrients by adding in its own enzyme and supporting the gut flora. It’s surprising how many people are unaware of the benefits of Aloe Vera on the gut, however a shot of Aloe Vera a day can help to improve the digestive flow and nourish you from the inside out.
Adding Aloe Vera gel daily is a great way to support your gut function. Incorporating Aloe Vera into your diet is super simple with Simplee Aloe’s Aloe Vera health supplement as it gives you extra enzymes, good fibres and is anti-inflammatory.
The supplement is available in Original with a dash of organic lemon juice or Cranberry, 500ml bottle, RRP: £9.99, and available from Planet Organic, Revital and www.simpleealoe.com