Serving delicious, healthy food is one thing. Taking the time to educate your customers on the importance of good gut health, well, that’s taking the game to a whole new level. Say hello to Sunny’s On Second, a health-forward restaurant founded in Bentonville, Arkansas. Not only are they known for their wonderful menu that includes smoothies, bowls, burritos, salads, sandwiches, and unbelievable baked goods, but they also work hard to host popular wellness events.
As part of these events, Sunny’s asked our in-house nutritionist, Bruna Fernandes, to sit down and share her insights on how your gut functions, as well as how it impacts your overall health. We encourage you to watch the video to learn more about what’s going on inside your gut and why fiber is so critical to balancing your microbiome, which is just science talk for the good bacteria in your gut that helps support a myriad of functions in your body.
Short on the seven minutes of time it takes to watch the video? Here are the shorthand notes:
Gut-Brain Axis: There is an exchange between the gut and the brain, called the gut-brain axis. This communication affects the way we feel and value GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms — it impacts the quality of our lives.
For instance, when we see something tasty, the brain signals the gut to prepare to eat. When we feel anxious, we feel butterflies. When we feel stressed or nervous, we might experience abdominal pain, nausea or even diarrhea. Conversely, when our gut is happy, it can trigger the release of euphoric hormones like serotonin.
The Big Landlord: Your gut houses 70 – 80% of your immunity cells. Because of this, the digestive system is also a vital part of the body’s defense system, making it the first line of defense against illness and disease. The interesting thing about our immunity is that it’s not hardwired into our DNA, which means we can continuously improve it simply by taking care of our gut.
Americans Lack Fiber: Only 5% of our population is actually getting enough fiber in their diet. This is concerning because 74% of Americans have digestive issues which lead to other health issues. Many of these digestive issues are directly related to diet. And the number one way to increase your gut health is the consumption of more fiber.
Prebiotic vs. Probiotics: The quick answer: Prebiotic is fiber. Probiotics are bacteria. Prebiotics feed probiotics. Our favorite analogy goes something like this: Think of your gut as a garden, where the probiotics are the seed and the prebiotics the fertilizer. Essentially, prebiotics are dietary fibers that nourishes the good bacteria (probiotics) in our digestive system, allowing them to thrive.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber: There’s a distinction between types of fiber. Namely, soluble and insoluble. Good gut health focuses on consuming more soluble fiber because it mixes with water in your system to form a gel in your gut that works to process fats and carbohydrates, while also helping you feel full longer.
Fiber is a Form of Carbohydrate: In recent years, low carbohydrate diets have become popular. However, they can take a toll on your gut because you’re lacking the necessary fiber to balance your microbiome. Low carbohydrate diets and fiber should work hand-in-hand to produce a net-zero carb outcome.
Special thanks to Sunny’s On Second for including us in their Gut Health Series and for helping us live our mission of Fueling Health for All.