While the main goal when making dietary changes remain to lose weight, we seldom think about the role that our gut may play in achieving this. Many animal studies are now showing that feeding the gut may mean feeding the mind. The gut can affect your mood which includes your thought patterns, sleep quality and chemical balance and possibly even how you respond to sticking to your new eating regime.  Researchers are now even referred to the gut as the “second brain”.


Bacteria outnumber human cells and diversity is essential; however; our modern lifestyles are destroying the microbe-man relationship. This has a negative outcome on many physical and biochemical connections between gut, microbiome and the central nervous system .For example, the vagus nerve carries information from the gut to the brain. Furthermore, a large proportion of serotonin is produced in the intestines — our gut. Serotonin is sometimes referred to as the “feel good” chemical because of its ability to impact mood, anxiety and happiness, among other functions.  Therefore, feed the gut, feed the body, feed the brain!


Dysbiosis (alteration of gut microbiota composition or functions) can be related to many environmental factors including bad eating habits.  With dysbiosis, one can expect many intestinal and extra intestinal diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and neuropsychiatric diseases. This is why targeting the microbiota as a preventive or therapeutic strategy is particularly relevant and diet may be used for this purpose.


There are a myriad of foods you can eat to promote healthy gut function. Yoghurt is an everyday food produced when milk is inoculated and fermented with two strains of live cultures: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.


Élie Metchnikoff is known as the father of the first studies of the gut. Metchnikoff studied a group of people in Bulgaria who were living exceptionally long lives and he noted that their diet included the consumption of large quantities of sour milk. Although this observation was purely associative, Metchnikov subsequently began research to examine how maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, through diet and other means, could help stave off disease and prolong life. Many people will tell you howuncomfortable they feel and how this is affecting their overall well-being and that they have this sense of heaviness when their digestive system is not working well.


“Most people don’t really know what an imperative role our gut plays in our bodies.  The most fascinating discovery in latest research is the role the role that the gut and its resident microbes play in brain health which is that gut microbes profoundly influence brain function and mental health. A variety in diet, of which fermented foods like yoghurt and fibre from fruit and vegetables and beans will bring variety to gut bacteria” says Monique Piderit, Dietitian in private practice and a member of the South African Yoghurt Advisory Panel.


For more details on keeping your gut healthy visit www.sayoghurtinnutrition.co.za

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