The newest health trend in town is gut health.
Headlines around gut health and the power of our gut are plastered across many popular health and wellbeing magazines, holistic health websites, and you don't have to look far to find the marketing of programmes or supplements via various Facebook forums all proclaiming gut health benefits far and wide.
But, this time, I don't for a moment believe it's a fad. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, 2000 years ago declared that "all disease begins in the gut".
This age-old quote may have regained traction of late, but a flurry of ground-breaking findings from inquisitive professors of medicine, biochemists and even gastroenterologists is assisting us in connecting the dots about how our gut health is affecting our external health, our weight, our mental wellbeing, our vitality, our experience of life and our longevity.
Where you are right now, there's a crucial contest taking place in your belly. Some 1000 species of bacteria are at battle, trying to establish dominance. Why should you care?
Because the balance and proportion of good and bad bacteria in your gut, and whether your gut lining is robust or leaky, doesn't just decide how well you digest your dinner, respond to allergens and fend off diseases, it also helps determine how much weight you're likely to gain (or lose), your experience of mental health and your lifespan.
Let me remind you about something I've chatted about before delving further into gut health. Remember, signs and symptoms that your body alerts you to should be listened to like neon warning signs. We aren't meant to have symptoms – we are meant to be well.
In actual fact, often by the time we've experienced symptoms, a physiological or biochemical process in our body may have already reduced to 50 per cent of its optimum functioning. Scary, huh.
We need to remember that symptoms aren't normal, and just because we may have experienced something for multiple years, or we may have witnessed others who have also been targeted by similar symptomologies, doesn't mean it is in any way normal.
Digestive complaints, respiratory problems, diabetes, thyroid problems, fatigue, chronic muscle aches, swelling in our limbs, menstrual irregularities, repeated infections – these are all not normal.
Yes we can be predisposed to them, but we actually have more control over the severity of a condition, or whether we in fact succumb to an actual condition, than we realise.
This alone can come down to belief systems, and what we have for years believed to be true or concrete advice. Our beliefs can be challenged and altered – but that's for another day.
So what is it about our gut that makes it so powerful? A futuristic-sounding word called the microbiome is something you want to learn more about – particularly your own microbiome.
Your microbiome is the group of different bacteria, yeast, parasites and other microbes that live on and inside you, and whose goal it is to achieve a symbiotic relationship.
Fun fact – did you know that we have 10 times as many microbial cells as we do human cells? And another – 1 gram of your poo contains more microbes than there are people on this Earth! Proof that we shouldn't underestimate their power!
So what does the microbiome do, and why is it so important?
Firstly, it manages your inflammation and your immune system.
Secondly, it manufactures important chemicals for the entire body including the brain (think neurotransmitters).
Thirdly, it plays a large role in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining (which in itself holds more power over our immune systems than we realise).
And finally, it helps to digest and assimilate our foods.
These are four crucial factors that influence multiple parts of our existence, and evidence that when we feel unwell or are suffering a myriad of symptoms that we should perhaps look to our gut as the first place to heal.
Our most powerful asset when it comes to healing ourselves and being more well is in our gut – it's like our body's central dashboard.
Our experience of life and health is a complex interplay of many things, but it all stems from our central dashboard – when something here is disturbed we experience symptoms at some other location in our body due to how our gut has communicated with that area.
And as soon as we understand and appreciate the absolute healing power that is stored here, in our gut, and how we each have the control to direct where our health goes, the sooner we can overcome the crisis of chronic disease we are currently faced with.
If this topic has taken your interest, or made you raise an eye, then stay tuned, as next month I'll cover the basics of gut healing, and show you gentle and simple ways that you can start to take back the reins on your own health.
Because by doing so, we don't just empower our innate healing abilities, but we can open the doors to a more energised and abundant experience of life.
- Corinne Austin is a health coach and movement motivator (firstname.lastname@example.org).