There’s a lot of noise surrounding the importance of gut health lately. Many health blogs are hammering home the importance of gut health and having healthy bacteria present in your digestive tract. But what’s it all about? And does this have anything to do with food intolerances, which tend to manifest through digestive issues? Today we’re clearing things up around gut health, probiotics and food intolerances.
Gut health, why it matters
First up – gut health. What is it and why does it matter? Gut health is important for a number of reasons, firstly because it’s where all of our food is digested and turned into fuel for the body. If the digestive tract isn’t running how it should be, then your body will have a hard time making the most of what you fuel it with – even with the healthiest of diets, an unhealthy gut biome can be detrimental to your health.
Next there’s the effect your gut has on various hormones throughout the body. Recent research indicated that up to 90% of our body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. And it’s not alone, several hormones are affected by our gastrointestinal microbiome, such as oestrogen, melatonin, cortisol and thyroid hormones . There’s no wonder it’s often referred to as the second brain.
Probiotics: The good guys in your gut
Now, there’s are several ways we can improve our gut health. Eat smaller, more frequent meals (to give your stomach an easier time of it), avoid highly processed ingredients and snacks and hold back on the sugar. But there are also certain foods we can add to our diets or give our digestive environment that additional boost – foods containing probiotics.
Probiotics are good bacteria, the kid we all need in abundance within our digestive tract in order to properly digest all those nutrients from our food and effectively make the most of your meals. Foods containing probiotics include; some yoghurts, kefir, miso, tempeh, pickles and various fermented foods.
Prebiotics to feed the good bacteria
Next up are the new kids on the gut health scene, prebiotics. Prebiotics are essentially food for your good bacteria  (i.e. probiotics). It’s like feeding your pet, but instead of your dog-loving you for looking after it, your stomach and body thank you with fewer symptoms and improved general health.
How Food Intolerances affect gut health
But how does all this relate to food intolerances? Well, food intolerances could be very strongly linked to your gut health, due to the fact that food intolerances are where the body struggles or is unable to properly digest a certain food item. This can create a build-up in the gut of gas and the food item itself, causing an array of symptoms.
The inability to break down certain foods effectively can heavily impact the delicate balance of good bacteria within the gut and, by extension, the entire enteric endocrine system. This could explain the wide variety of symptoms related to food intolerances, like acne, headaches, and fatigue.
The good news is all these symptoms can be avoided through avoidance of foods we’re intolerant to, along with adding both probiotic and prebiotic foods to our diets. Of course, the only sure-fire way to determine a food intolerance is through scientifically validated IgG testing.
 Kresser, C. (2017). The Gut–Hormone Connection: How Gut Microbes Influence Estrogen Levels. [online] Kresser Institute. Available at: https://kresserinstitute.com/gut-hormone-connection-gut-microbes-influence-estrogen-levels/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2020].
 Colostate.edu. (2020). Enteric Endocrine System. [online] Available at: http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/basics/gi_endocrine.html [Accessed 18 Feb. 2020].
 Davani-Davari, D., Negahdaripour, M., Karimzadeh, I., Seifan, M., Mohkam, M., Masoumi, S., Berenjian, A. and Ghasemi, Y. (2019). Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods, [online] 8(3), p.92. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463098/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2020].