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Top nutritionist Payal Kothari reveals startling facts about the gut, and how to take care of it

Published on:26 February 2021, 18:11pm IST
Did you know everything that happens in your body is related to the gut? No wonder, it becomes imperative to give it extra TLC.
Geetika Sachdev
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There is a strong link between the gut and the brain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Health and fitness have become buzzwords in the last few years. And while the importance of a healthy diet and exercise have been repeated several times, what most people forget to pay attention to is how their gut health is. The gut, also known as the gastrointestinal tract is a long tube that starts at the mouth, and ends at the back passage (anus). 

Research reveals that about 100 trillion bacteria reside in the gut, and they produce metabolites that can have various repercussions on your health. Moreover, 70-80% of your body’s immune cells are centred in the gut. And this might sound surprising, but 95% of the body’s total serotonin is also located in the gut. 

With so much and more, it becomes imperative to maintain the gut in proper shape. But how do we do it, especially in a world where we are exposed to all kinds of foods? Can we reboot our gut after a point? These are some pertinent questions that can only be answered by an expert, which is why we have Payal Kothari, an integrative nutritionist, gut health coach, and founder of GutAvatar & INUEN.

In an exclusive chat with Health Shots, she tells us everything related to the gut, and some tips to keep it functioning properly. 

Gut, the ‘second brain’

Research says that the human gut has more than 100 million nerve cells, almost like your brain. It is also believed that your gut speaks with your brain, releasing hormones into the bloodstream, and telling us how hungry you are. 

It was in 2010 that neuroscientist Diego Bohórquez of Duke University Durham, discovered that enteroendocrine cells that line the gut produce hormones that accelerate digestion and suppress hunger. Plus, these cells had foot-like protrusions that look like the synapses neurons that are used to communicate with each other. 

A healthy gut can keep you safe from several health issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The gut is the second brain, as all diseases begin in the gut. Our gut has trillions of microorganisms helping us with immunity, metabolism and practically governs every detail of what transpires within the body. Your gut is also responsible for producing happy hormones which affects your moods and mental wellness as well,” says Kothari.

Maintaining gut health

The modern world that we live in is characterised by high stress levels, less sleep and eating processed foods, which can all cause harm to the gut. If your gut doesn’t function properly, everything in your body will be affected, be it your brain, heart, immune system, skin, weight and so much more. 

So how do you know if your gut is not in the right shape? In case you get an upset stomach frequently, have increased sugar cravings, feel fatigued, have unexplained weight changes and get skin problems every now and then, your gut is trying to signal how desperately it needs help! 

“A few simple ways to maintain health and wellness of the gut are, eating root 

vegetables like beetroot, garlic and ginger. Making sure 80% of your meal is plant-based. Regularly consume omega-3 in the form of flax seeds, olive oil and walnuts. To reduce inflammation, supplementing your diet with probiotic supplements is also a great way to multiply your good and beneficial bacteria,” adds Kothari. 

You need to keep things as simple as possible for a healthy gut! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Can you reboot your gut?

“A gut reboot is taking care of the gut starting with the 4R’s, reduce, redesign, recharge and repair. Reduce junk, reduce inflammation, redesign your gut microbiome with gut-soothing enzymes and pre-probiotics. Recharge your gut with plant-based foods and repair your gut with good fats,” explains Kothari. 

When you reboot your gut, you consciously remove foods that feed harmful bacteria and cause inflammation. It is also important to include prebiotic foods that feed beneficial bacteria. And it’s not just a healthy diet that matters; you must also get enough sleep, exercise and stay hydrated. 

There’s also a specific kind of meditation to reboot the gut, says Kothari. 

“The gut reboot meditation is a targeted meditation to release stress from the gut. Most individuals store a lot of stress hormones in the gut, like relationship stress, work stress, releasing more and more cortisol – the stress hormone in their gut. This can make the body extremely vulnerable to low immunity, acidic and prone to simple to chronic illnesses. The gut reboot meditation can help release stress and balance the release of cortisol being produced in the body,” she adds. 

So ladies, take care of your gut and everything else will fall into place! 

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.