Gut health and poop. A topic we often reserve for doctors, nutritionists and close comrades.
But today, we’re opening the conversation, because modern science is shining a light on the true impact of our gut health on overall wellbeing (hint: it’s more important than you may think).
We’ve long understood that the food we eat is transformed into nutrients and energy so we can live a full and enriched life. But in more recent times, scientists recognise our gut is made up of trillions of microorganisms – including bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa – which are linked to immunity, heart health, mood, mental health, homeostasis and wellbeing.
Today, we’re going to journey through the digestive tract and introduce our favourite superfood for gut health: Turkey Tail Mushroom.
What Is The Gut Microbiome?
Let’s make like a digestive enzyme and break it down.
First of all, we’re all familiar with the term “gut” – but did you know that it encompasses your entire gastrointestinal tract, including your oesophagus, stomach, intestines and anus?
On the other hand, the microbiome refers to a community of organisms living together in a particular habitat. Examples of microbiomes occur in the soil, ocean and of course - the human gut.
Like a fingerprint, all our gut microbiomes look slightly different. It’s a result of our parent’s health, upbringing and lived experiences. Today, scientists are uncovering that the microorganisms in our gut can influence the presence of diseases, like heart conditions and cancer.
They also recognise that having an abundance of unique, diverse types of bacteria in your microbiome is a good thing – they’re even starting to use the gut microbiome to predict human survival rates (cool, huh?)
Why Is The Gut Microbiome Important?
There’s a reason our gut has coined the term “the second brain”.
We’ve all heard of the Central Nervous System, but a lesser-known system called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is made up of nerves, neurons and neurotransmitters found in the digestive tract. Like our brain, our ENS plays a key role in certain diseases and wellbeing.
But wait, there’s more.
The mind and gut are linked through a little thing called the Gut Brain Axis (GBA), which involves two-way communication.
Not only does our brain talk to our gut – our gut talks to our brain.
Have you ever felt nervous before a test, and you felt that churning feeling in your stomach? Or maybe you felt butterflies during the excitement of a first date? Or perhaps your stomach ‘sunk’ that time you heard some bad news?
Now if we change the direction, have you ever felt anxious or stressed as you’re experiencing gut health issues? Or perhaps your mood is a little off after indulging a little too much over the weekend?
It’s all linked.
So, How Can You Keep Your Gut Healthy?
The good news is, as humans, we’re able to control our gut microbiome. We fuel it, every single day.
By eating a healthy, balanced and probiotic rich diet and exercising often, we can promote a healthy microbiome and prevent associated diseases.
Probiotics are live microorganisms we consume, found in things like yoghurt, kefir, miso and sauerkraut. Prebiotics are plant fibres that are a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria, found in things like fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
Put prebiotics and probiotics together, and it’s like a party for your gut health. A good kind of party – not a rogue one.
Our Favourite Superfood For Gut Health: Turkey Tail Mushroom
Turkey Tail mushroom is as vivid and colourful as it is beneficial.
Native to Europe, Asia and North America, Turkey Tail has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to promote wellbeing, vitality and longevity. It hosts an array of swirling, earthy colours with a pleasantly mild flavour.
Turkey Tail has an array of benefits, most notably, it’s rich in prebiotics – helping to nourish probiotic bacteria.
Turkey Tail is naturally rich in Beta Glucans, which is believed to play an important role in the gastrointestinal tract, reducing high cholesterol, lowering inflammation and supporting the immune system (once again, it’s all connected).
An 8-week study in 24 healthy individuals compared the consumption of antibiotics, an extract from Turkey Tail mushroom and no treatment (control group). The study found:
- For the control group (which received no treatment), there were no notable changes in the gut microbiome (which, makes sense).
- The group receiving a Turkey Tail extract demonstrated beneficial changes in the gut bacteria and evidence of suppressed growth of problematic bacteria (like E. coli and Shigella). Big win for Turkey Tail.
- The group receiving antibiotics found substantial microbiome changes, including an increase in some problematic bacteria (the topic of antibiotics and gut microbiome is a whole other conversation – but this isn’t suggesting to turn your back on modern research).
As always, more research needs to be done to draw any definitive conclusions. To learn more about the Turkey Tail mushroom benefits, check out this blog.
To Sum Things Up
Our gut health and overall wellbeing are more connected than we may think. Like two peas in a pod, our gut is connected to our brain via two-way communication, playing a pivotal immunity, homeostasis mood and disease prevention.
We can boost our gut health and wellbeing by eating foods that are rich in probiotics – live bacteria that live in your body.
And then, enter Turkey Tail for gut health, a mushroom that’s exceptionally rich in prebiotics - special plant fibres that fuel these healthy gut bacteria.
At Natura Mushrooms, we grow our own Turkey Tail. If you’re ready to try it for yourself, we have:
- Turkey Tail Powder
- Turkey Tail Dual Liquid Extract
- Turkey Tail and Hemp Extract
Written by Shane and Ash from Natura Mushrooms.