Monday, May 11, 2020

Got That Gut Feeling, Or Is It Just The S**ts?

Your Microbiome

The gut or ‘Microbiome’, is a rich ecosystem of friendly and not so friendly bacteria. In fact 85% of the bacteria is ‘good’ bacteria and is 15% bad bacteria. Our gut flora help us digest, (though not directly involved in) by creating digestive enzymes. They’re amazing in several ways, they:

  • Protects us from pathogens 
  • Boost the immune system 
  • Aid in the production of certain vitamins and minerals like B1, B2, B3, B4, B6, B7, B12 and vitamins A and K. 

There's loads of the little buggers too. Our body has close to 10 trillion cells, but we have 10 times the amount of bacteria. One linear centimetre is said to have more bacteria than humans ever born. There are over 1000 species living in the gut, totalling between 2-3kg in weight. In 99% of our DNA we carry around microbes, and as we get older the microbes decline and become less diverse.

Anatomy of The Digestive System

Most of us are between 5-7ft tall, and our digestive system can be as long as 25ft. Depending on the quality of the foods consumed and the health of the gut, will depend on transit time, but 97% of can be expected to be absorbed.

From Top to Bottom

When you start chewing it triggers an appearance of certain acids, mucus enzymes and bile all to alkalinise and emulsify foodstuff, turning it into a bolus.

Passing down the esophagus, through the oesophageal sphincter into the stomach, where the main stage of digestion begins. The bolus is then broken down in to chyme by the hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

The chyme then moves down into the small intestine, the first part of absorption. The small intestine is made of three parts duodenum, jejunum and the ileum. The SI is approximately 6-7m in length. It’s full of finger like structures called Villi and Microvilli, as a collective known as the intestinal brush boarder, these are the most important absorptive structures in the body.

Moving on to the Large intestine (the most metabolically active organ), AKA the colon, which is larger in diameter but smaller in length (1.5m).  Final absorption of potassium, acids, gases and the H2O in the chyme takes place, then moving on to excretion. The whole process taking 18-72 (again, obviously depending on gut health and food quality).

The Who’s-Who of Poo-Poo

1/3 of fecal matter (your poo), consists of 1/3 of dead bacteria, 1/3-1/2 of inorganic material and fat. Proteins, cells, fibre, digestive juice and bile pigments make up the remainder. In fact your poo weighs more in bacteria than digested food. Transit time and frequency can be improved with high consumption of fibre rich foods (fruits, veggies, nuts/seeds/beans/pulses etc). Physical activity can also decrease transit time - ever heard of ‘runners belly’???

Reference: Heaton, K W & Lewis, S J 1997, 'Stool form scale as a useful guide to intestinal transit time'. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, vol.32, no.9, pp.920 - 924. Retrieved on 2/3/2007.

Type 4 poo is the most ideal and is a sign of healthy gut bacteria. Type 1 and 7 is not a good and if it remains consistent, you may want to consider seeing a health professional.

Here's one for you…

5litres of ‘gas’ leaves the body per day

Cause of Bad Guts

Certain things can cause a dysbiosis (bacteria imbalance):

  • Prolonged use of antibiotics 
  • Stress 
  • Poor diet 
  • Aggressive medical therapies (radiation/chemo) 
  • Too much animal protein 
  • Poor gut motility 

Food sensitivities tend to come from: 

  • Lectins (found in seeds, grains, pulses and nuts) 
  • Gluten and related proteins (found in grains) 
  • Casein, lactose and immunoglobulins in dairy 
  • Fructose (fruit sugars) 
  • Processed foods, preservatives and additives 

The best way to see if your client has an intolerance, is to recommend an elimination protocol. Your client is to remove all above for a duration of time and slowly re-introduce them one at a time, so as not mis-interpret the offender. Make sure your client records daily after every meal.


We don’t actually produce prebiotics (they come from olgiosacerides - complex carbohydrates), they basically are there to keep probiotics alive. Sources include beans/pulses, fruits, whole grains and starchy veg.

Probiotics are the good bacteria, working hard to kick out the bad bacteria. Good bacteria influences our overall health, metabolism, digestion and body composition. Natural probiotics are found in: 

  • Yogurt (dairy/coconut/soya) 
  • Buttermilk 
  • kefir (dairy/non dairy) 
  • Sauerkraut (fermented) 
  • Pickles (fermented) 
  • Cultured cheeses 

Sprouting, fermenting and soaking certain grains, seeds and starches increase the absorption by making them more digestible, gives foods more minerals and the food has more protein.

The gut is a fascinating and complex ‘organ’ and is far beyond the scope of this blog. You’ll need to do more reading and research, to increase your knowledge.  I recommend a great book called ‘Brain maker’ by David Perlmutter, as a bit of a start.

Keep it real Folks

Phil Snowden
The Fat Loss & Performance Coach


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