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JUNE WELLNESS PRJECT: OUR WONDERFUL GUT by Elly Smith, Akasha Integrative Health

Updated: Jan 18


Gut health is probably the area of the body most influenced by our nutritional choices and is both the key to our vitality and wellbeing as well as the root of all conditions.

To sustain a healthy approach to diet, focussed on good gut health, it is important to understand why and how food foods affect our health differently. We can then plan which foods to increase and which to avoid.

Where does digestion begin?

The cephalic phase of digestion is the stage in which the stomach responds to the mere sight, smell, taste, or thought of food. About 20% of total acid secretion occurs before food enters the stomach.

Due to our rushing lifestyle, we are missing the ceremony of eating and the benefits of this stage.

The Central Nervous System (including the brain and spinal cord) and Enteric Nervous System, control the movement of the food through the whole digestive process.

The digestive system is lined with millions of neurons. This is often referred to as our second brain and involves gastric secretions, movement of food through the gut, bowel movements and release of neurotransmitters.

There is a two-way relationship between the gut and brain. The neurotransmitters in the brain are made in the gut and communicate via the vagus nerve – this the highway for a constant talk, and we feel this gut connection, often described as a gut feeling or intuition. In times of stress, this pathway shuts down.

The Gut is defined as Mouth to Anus. The lining of the gut is only one cell thick, with tight junctions. between the cells. It is lined by protective mucous layer and a balance of bacteria.

When the integrity of the junctions is damaged, particles can leak through the gut wall, and if only partially digested, this can cause an auto immune response, resulting in a reaction and inflammation.

Excessive bloating and wind can be a sign of leaky gut.

Foods rich in glutamines such as bone broth, good quality dairy (unpasteurized and unhomogenized if possible) can help repair gut wall.

Emotional Health

Feeling low or flat can often be the result of gut flora being out of balance as they are responsible for the production of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.

Fibre and Immunity

Eating fibre is a great way of improving the quality of the thick mucous lining. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are a bi-product of dietary fibre fermentation by specific microbes in the intestinal colon and possesses multiple anti-inflammatory properties both on gut epithelial and immune cells, providing 70% of our entire immune function. Damaged gut flora can result in reduced protection from invaders.

Other benefits of adequate amounts fibre

- Promotes beneficial bacteria

- Controls cholesterol and blood sugar levels

- Aids appetite control and digestion

- Aids toxin removal

- Aids weight management

- Helps prevent cancer

- Helps production of sex hormones

Healthy and Sustainable Diet

- Best approach is to ADD beneficial foods that will increase our vitality rather than taking away pleasure.

- Aim to eat the rainbow to achieve a balance of micro and macro nutrients.

e.g. Begin with a base of leafy greens, then add whatever colour you can find in the fridge, finishing with a chosen protein (including nuts, beans, grains such as quinoa)

- Fermented foods great for healthy gut flora


If fasting, be organized so that first meal after fast breaks contains macros and micros. Remember a restricted eating window still requires adequate nutritional value.

Food to Avoid


- Studies have shown that sugar can be more addictive than cocaine! Beware of hidden sugars such as sauces, yoghurts etc.

- Sugary foods often replace nutritious foods

- Sugary foods deplete our immune function

- Bad bacteria thrives on sugar, disrupts gut flora balance

- Leads to obesity, diabetes, cancer, mood disorders, concentration difficulties, fungal infections and more

- Always have easy alternatives at hand such vege sticks, jerky (African Vibe), especially for teens


Be careful of added gums, (which have been shown to cause inflammation and gut issues in mice) and read labels.

Other Influencers on Gut Health

- Sleep

- Alcohol

- Gluten/Dairy/Soy?

- Artificial sweeteners

- GMO foods

- Packaged foods

- Fried foods

- Refined vegetable oils and triglycerides


Always read labels. If you don’t understand an ingredient, then buy an alternative.


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