All body systems are important and we should never assume that one deserves more of our attention than the others. But recent research suggests that maintaining a healthy digestive system is key for the prevention of disease.
Taking a whole person approach to health is the best way to stay functioning at your best. But if you focus on keeping the digestive system healthy, all other body systems might just follow in suit.
The Connection Between Disease and The Gut
If your goal is to maintain a healthy body to fight off disease, start by keeping your gut happy. Approximately 70 percent of your immune system resides in your gut and this is where the majority of diseases develop. The rise of autoimmunity in recent years may be explained by the health of our digestive system.
According to a large scale 2016 control study titled All Diseases Begin in the Gut, results indicated that patients with lupus had a higher prevalence of Celiac Disease than with other control groups. Although the study concluded that a series of genetic, environmental and immunological factors play a role in the development of Celiac Disease, most cases are considered a treatable condition.
The overall health of our gut microbiome, or the environment within our body that is composed of bacteria and other microbes, has much to do with the development of disease. Our immune system is constantly communicating with our microbiome during various complex processes. A 2015 study highlighted the many ways in which the microbiome can influence human disease in a process known as dysbiosis.
According to the above mentioned study, the human microbiome may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease and Clostridium difficile infection. A 2011 study published in Geome Medicine explained that the gut microbiome may also play a role in the development of obesity, circulatory disease, and autism. It can affect our immune system response, how well we utilize dietary calories, and drug metabolism and toxicity. It can even dictate how well we recover from surgery!
Improving Digestive Health With Dietary Fibre
Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after having experiencing a properly functioning digestive system? You probably noticed you don’t feel as tired and you may even have better mental clarity. If you haven’t been sick in a long time or seem happier than most people, you likely have a happy digestive system.
Dietary fibre plays many important roles in the body. It slows down glucose dumping, or the amount of glucose that is dumped into our blood after a meal so as to prevent an insulin spike. It also helps keep us full and makes sure we don’t eat too much.
Most importantly, fibre may help prevent disease by keeping the gut healthy. One of the simplest ways in which fibre keeps us healthy is that it keeps us regular! Imagine not being able to eliminate toxins from your body when needed. Keeping regular is a healthy process of ridding potentially dangerous microbes from making us sick.
High intakes of dietary fiber have been linked to lower levels of coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and some digestive disease. A high intake of fibre has also been associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and improved insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients. Fibre enhances the immune system, which may play a role in whether or not we catch the flu this autumn! It has also been shown to reduce haemorrhoids, gastroesophageal reflux disease, duodenal ulcers, diverticulitis, and constipation.
Psyllium Husks For Good Gut Health
When it comes to getting more fibre in our diet, everyone knows to eat more fruits and vegetables. But different types of food provide different types of fibre. Adding psyllium husks to your high fruit and vegetable intake may help give you an added health boost this winter.
According to a 2010 study, water soluble dietary fibre may help reduce the risk factor of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in patients with metabolic syndrome. The study went on to state that psyllium husks reduce the risk of heart disease because of its ability to lower liver cholesterol concentrations and increase good “HDL” cholesterol.
Water soluble fibre from psyllium husks may also reduce body weight, improve satiety, and have a positive impact on cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which may contribute to the treatment of metabolic disease. In addition to a high fibre content to keep the digestive system happy, a 2008 study found that psyllium husks may also help lower cholesterol levels, possibly due to their laxative effects.