The Greek physician Hippocrates - also widely known as the Father of Modern Medicine is famous for saying: "All Disease Begins in the Gut." But what is the gut -- and what is gut health? In order for our body to digest the food we eat, absorb the essential nutrients we need and eliminate any waste efficiently -- essential processes need to occur by specific organs that make up the digestive system, each with its own job and responsibilities.
Here's a look inside the process that metabolizes our food.
The gut is a complex system where digestion and nutrient absorption begins. Through an orchestrated process that starts in the mouth and ends in the colon, foods are first chewed and then further broken down with stomach acid, enzymes and bile. Most digestion takes place in the small intestine, which delivers nutrients to the liver and the conversion into glucose and protein begins.
Peristalsis is the involuntary movement of food through the digestive tract and an essential part of the digestive process. It occurs in multiple organs during several stages of digestion. Here's an overview of how the gut works:
If Hippocrates was correct, keeping your gut healthy is the key to wellness. If you aren't absorbing key nutrients your body requires daily to function, you can develop deficiencies that may lead to ongoing health challenges. Your gut needs a healthy balance of friendly bacteria to protect against more harmful invaders like viruses, fungi and unfriendly bacteria.
While digestive upset is relatively common, persistent symptoms could be a sign of an underlying issue that needs further attention. Here are some signs your gut may not be healthy:
If you experience persistent symptoms or more severe digestive upset, it could be a sign that you have GI distress or lifestyle patterns that can affect your gut's ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. According to the Cleveland Clinic, one or more of the following may contribute to an unbalanced gut:
If you experience ongoing discomfort relating to your gut, it is imperative to find the root cause. Through a simple at-home lab testing, you can assess how well your gut is functioning by highlighting any digestion and absorption issues. You will get a clear understanding of how well your body is doing from the inside out.
Once you know your gut's baseline, you can begin to make the appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle that support optimal wellness in the most beneficial way for you.