We asked our resident Dietitian Imogen Wolsey to share some cracking gut facts with us ahead of Christmas. These facts will not only blow your mind but also impress all the family with your knowledge. They'll also remind you how incredible your gut is and why it's so important to take good care of it amidst all the Christmas chaos.
1. Your gut is not just your intestines. The gut actually refers to your whole gastrointestinal tract, starting from your mouth, including your oesophagus and stomach, and going right down to your anus.
2. Everyone’s gut is unique. Even identical twins, who share 99.5% of their genes, only share about 20% of their microbiome.
3. If you opened up your gastrointestinal tract and measured its total surface area, it would cover half a badminton court. That’s roughly 344 square feet (or 32 square meters).
4. Left is best! If you’ve over done it a bit with your Christmas dinner and need a lie-down, try doing so on your left side to help your body digest. Your stomach is asymmetrical and empties more easily on the left, so if you lie down on that side digestive juices can flow easily and your fullness feeling will ease.
5. 66-70% of your immune system resides in your gut. Find out how they're linked and how to best support it.
6. Stress and anxiety can slow digestive processes and cause bloating and constipation. Use this festive season to take some time off work, unwind and spend time with loved ones. Also use it to catch up on some sleep. Less sleep has been linked with less diverse microbiome, which can cause digestive symptoms. Not to mention that when we don’t get enough sleep we’re more susceptible to stress. So make the most of lying in over Christmas!
7. 95% of your serotonin is located within the gastrointestinal tract. This is why we feel strong emotions in our gut as well as our mind, and hence the term ‘gut feeling’.
8. Stomach acid is strong enough to burn your skin, but it doesn’t harm the inside of your stomach because of the thick lining of mucus which protects it. It’s essential in the digestive process because, when combined with digestive enzymes, it helps to help break food down to be absorbed. So make sure you take time in between mouthfuls and savour each bite of your Christmas dinner rather than wolfing it down. Chewing thoroughly and taking your time when eating will promote the release of digestive enzymes, the production of stomach acid and aid in the overall absorption of nutrients along the gastrointestinal tract.
9. The noise that’s made when you’re hungry, the rumbling, grumbling sound coming from down below, that’s called Borborygmic. It’s caused by peristalsis, which is the muscular contractions that help push food through your gut. Peristalsis is strongest after eating, but it also happens in between meals to clear up left over food in the gut. And the contractions just happen to be louder when there’s less food in your tubes, hence when you’re hungry!
10. Experts suggest that we fart an average of 15 times a day, ranging from just a few times to up to 40. Now that's a fact the kids will enjoy.
Share your favourite gut fact with us on social @symproveyourlife.
Find out more about the benefits of keeping a routine over Christmas.