Your Gut Health, Why It Matters?

The digestive system is made of the gastrointestinal tract also commonly known as the GI tract or gut. It comprises the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines (small and large) and anus. Good gut health is central to good overall health. The main function of the gut is helping in digestion of food and also plays a major role in your immune system.

Digestion of Food
  • Digest food to release energy and nutrients, the latter are absorbed for body functions.
  • Eliminates unused waste materials after digestion.
Immune System
  • Forms 80% of the immune system.
  • Peyer’s patches (specialised immune cells) found on the walls of the small intestine identify harmful pathogens (bacteria) within the gut and assist in fighting the harmful substances by triggering formation of antibodies.

What is Gut Microbiota

Gut microbiota refers to the entire ‘population’ of microorganisms living in your digestive system, which includes both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. There is an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms, which includes about 1, 000 different types or species of bacteria.

The good bacteria live in harmony with us and provide us with various health benefits. A healthy digestive system (gut) should have a healthy balance estimated around 85% of good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria.

When this balance is disrupted, the ‘bad’ bacteria can cause digestive disorders [e.g. constipation, diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other health problems.

Imbalanced Gut Microbiota (dysbiosis)

Insufficient ‘good’ bacteria to prevent the ‘bad’ bacteria from causing harm to the body, resulting in:

*Caution! These are non-specific symptoms that may not necessarily be caused by dysbiosis. There are many other health problems that may cause them. If in doubt, do check with your doctor.

Factors That Affect The Composition and Numbers Of Gut Microbiota

Factors That Promote Gut Microbiota
  1. Mode of delivery : Vaginal (provide initial seeding of gut microbiota)
  2. Infant feeding: Breastmilk (Helps initial seeding of gut microbiota)
  3. Introduce toddlers to healthy complementary foods
  4. Consumption of balanced and varied diet
  5. Physically active lifestyle
Factors That Disrupt Gut Microbiota
  1. Mode of delivery : Caesarean (Misses out on initial seeding of gut microbiota)
  2. Infant feeding: Formula feeding (Misses out on initial seeding of gut microbiota)
  3. Prolonged use of antibiotics
  4. Excessive alcohol
  5. Smoking
  6. Excessive stress

Dietary factors play an important role in promoting the growth of good bacteria thereby improving the balance of gut microbiota.

  1. HEALTHY DIET. Balanced and varied diet which is high in fibre.
  2. PROBIOTIC-RICH FOODS. Foods containing good bacteria that are also known as probiotics.
  3. PREBIOTICS. Specific dietary fibres which good bacteria feed on.