Gut health¹ refers to the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain or diarrhea, and disease (e.g. Inflammatory Bowel Disease.)
The concept of gut health has recently garnered a lot of mainstream attention, but there is yet to be a concrete definition. Typically, gut health includes:
- Absence of gastrointestinal disease or symptoms
- Absence of undesirable local conditions, such as increased intestinal permeability, mucosal inflammation and deficiency
- Good function of processes linked to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as the digestion and absorption of food
- Balance of microbes living in the GI tract – the microbiome
Why is Gut Health Important?
The importance of gut health is underlined by the fact that its loss is associated with a large variety of symptoms, often leading an individual to consult a doctor².
These symptoms are often linked with the common condition Irritable Bowel Syndrome, whereby symptoms include bloating, constipation, diarrhea etc. In the majority of cases, these symptoms affect quality of life, but not mortality.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract contributes to health in various ways.
Gut health has also been associated with numerous conditions not directly linked with digestion, such as depression and anxiety3.