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29 Apr 2018 By AMC

Gut Health by Susie Elelman

I think we’ve all had that gut feeling about something and regardless of whether we went with our instinct or not, more often than not, it’s turned out to be right.

Always trust your gut feelings; they never lie like people doanon

I decided to investigate this ‘gut feeling’ further and discovered that our stomach has often been referred to as our second brain.

According to Neuroscientist Professor Richard E Cytowic MD, our stomach is an ecosystem comprising some 100 million neurons, more than our spinal cord.

He says our stomach isn’t a thinking brain so it can’t reason or write poetry but mounting evidence suggests that our gut health strongly influences our mood.

Researchers have uncovered an intestinal nervous system in a mesh like network of neutrons that lines the entire digestive track. That’s what causes the sensation of nervous butterflies or a pit in your stomach that are inherent parts of our stress responses.

Dr Cytowic explains that 90% of the cells involved in these responses carry information to the brain rather than receiving messages from it, making our gut as influential to our mood as our head and maybe even more.

Always trust your gut. Your brain can be fooled and your heart’s an idiot but your gut doesn’t know how to lie   Rebel Circus

Gut health is vital and Dr Cytowic advocates the best way to keep our second brain full of the vibrant bacterial community it needs to survive is to feed it ‘prebiotic’ and ‘probiotic’ foods.

This reinforced what I was told by Dr Maxwell Strong Ph.D., the founder of the Institute of Aging & Clinical Nutrition Inc.

He’s been a medical researcher for several decades and a consultant to a number of major international pharmaceutical, food and beverage companies.

Since the late 2000s Dr. Strong’s principal research has involved working with dietary fibre.

As the Chief Scientist and CEO of Neurolex Pty. Ltd, he’s developed a drug-free soluble 100% vegetable prebiotic fibre known as Neurolex.

I interviewed Dr. Maxwell Strong for my new book Still Half My Size, where he explains the importance of gut health and the benefits and differences between prebiotics & probiotics.

Here’s a link to receive $5 off the purchase price of my book; http://newhollandpublishers.com/amc/

Probiotics are types of ‘living’ friendly bacteria similar to those that inhabit our digestive tract. They are naturally found in cultured or fermented foods such as yoghurt, buttermilk, aged cheese, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, miso, tempeh and kombucha, a type of fermented tea and can also be taken in supplement form. They may also help to restore good bacteria after a course of antibiotics.

Prebiotics are ‘non‐living’ food ingredients that reach the large intestine unaffected by digestion, and ‘feed’ the good bacteria in our gut helping them to grow and flourish.

Dr Strong explains that most published university epidemiological studies, which deal with the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases, demonstrate that populations with diets which are habitually high in certain types of fibre are characterised by lower rates of many chronic diseases.

A recent Sydney University published study is such an example. It followed the diets of 1600 adults for a period of ten years and found that those participants whose diets were highest in what was categorised as ‘indigestible’ fibre had an 80% likelihood of ageing longer, disease-free and fully-functional than those with the lowest intake of this fibre.

Have the guts to do what’s needed, not what’s convenient– Anon

While we’re talking about the gut, I want to make you aware of a gut infection I picked up recently that I’ve since found out can be contracted very easily.

It’s called Helicobacter Pylori (often called H.pylori) and is a dangerous bacterium that infects the gut by burrowing into the lining of the stomach, making it tougher to treat than most bacterial infections.

Heath experts say it is the most common infection in the world and it’s estimated a third of Australian adults carry the bug.

It can damage the stomach’s lining and those infected with these bacteria are more likely than other people to develop ulcers or cancer of the stomach.

H.pylori is spread through:

  • Mouth-to-mouth contact, such as kissing
  • Sharing food or utensils with an infected person
  • Contact with the excrement of an infected person
  • Contaminated food or water.

Anyone who is infected with H.pylori eventually develops gastritis, where the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed and irritated but they may not show any symptoms.

Mine was picked up by my closest friend, who, as tough as it is to do so, kindly told me that my breath wasn’t right after a recent trip we did together to India and suggested I go and get a referral from my doctor for a breath test for H.pylori.

It was the easiest pathology test I’ve ever done; you just blow in a bag and there are no needles involved.

The friend, who alerted me of it, had been diagnosed with H.pylori before and she also detected it in her husband and her mother, both of whom were infected and she was spot on with me too.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners stresses the importance of completing the course of treatment for H-pylori. I’m currently taking a 7 day intense course referred to as triple therapy involving three tablets; two different antibiotics and one that reduces stomach acid.

As I’m allergic to Penicillin, my doctor had to prescribe something else that I could tolerate.

Prevention

You can reduce your chances of getting H.pylori by;

  • Washing your hands after using the bathroom, patting any pets and before preparing and eating food
  • Avoiding food or water that’s not clean
  • Ensuring food is cooked thoroughly
  • Avoiding food served by people who haven’t washed their hands – which isn’t always easy when you eat out or get take away.

Always go with your gut.

It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.

– Ritu Ghatourey, Indian Inspirational Author

Wished I’d have taken Ritu’s advice and listened to my gut feeling when I was in India recently. I wouldn’t have eaten the food that gave me Delhi belly on the very last day and avoided a very unpleasant flight home.

Your gut is your seat to good health and I hope my observations help you stay healthier for longer.

I wanted to leave you with a great quote from Mark Twain that I hope gives you the guts to do something new…especially if it makes you happy.

Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbour.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. DiscoverMark Twain

 

Take care…cheers susie

Susie Elelman AM

Author, TV & Radio Broadcaster

AMC Ambassador

 

Sources:

myDr (Helicobacter pylori and peptic ulcers), Mayo Clinic (H. pylori infection), WebMD (H. pylori: What is it and how does it cause ulcers), Gastroenterological Society of Australia (Helicobacter pylori)