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Gut Health


Countless microorganisms live in our gut and communicate with our brain.

Good gut health occurs when you have a balance between the good (helpful) and bad (potentially harmful) bacteria in your digestive system. 80% Of our immune system is in the gut, as is the majority of our body’s serotonin. If your gut isn’t healthy, then your immune system and hormones won’t function, and your risk of geting sick increases significantly.


Fast Fact

70% of immune cells are housed in the gut. The lining of the digestive system where immune cells are housed helps filter nutrients and keep toxins from entering the bloodstream. Taking supplements, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and drinking water can help support a healthy immune and digestive system.

Fast Fact

A healthy gut microbiome tends to include a wide range of different beneficial bacteria and is vital for a healthy immune system. It plays an important role in regulating your immune system so that it responds to injury or infection but doesn’t attack healthy body tissue.

Fast Fact

Recent research has shown that the amino acid glutamine can positively affect gut health by supporting the gut microbiome, gut mucosal wall integrity, and by modulating inflammatory responses.

Fast Fact

Probiotics are living strains of bacteria that add to the population of good bacteria in your digestive system whereas prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that act as food for the good bacteria. This stimulates growth among the preexisting good bacteria.

Fast Fact

If your intestinal barrier is impaired, it may be letting toxins into your bloodstream. Leaky gut syndrome is a theory that intestinal permeability is not only a symptom of a gastrointestinal disease but an underlying cause that develops independently.

Fast Fact

The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – that live on and inside the human body. The number of genes in all the microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome. Although microbes are so small that they require a microscope to see them, they contribute in big ways to human health and wellness.

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The gut is a hot topic at the moment, and for good reason. As researchers discover more, it becomes increasingly interesting and slowly but surely, they are uncovering that virtually all the systems of the body are impacted by its health. This is actually great news because this potentially means that what we eat and what additional nutrients we put into our body can have even more far-reaching effects than we previously thought. It goes without saying, that the earlier you can improve gut health, the better the outcomes and this is why gut health is something that even teens should focus on.


Shop gut health supplements here


The gut can also act as a ‘brain’

In recent years, the gut has famously been called the ‘second brain’. This is because just as your brain is made up of neurons that communicate with one another through neurotransmitters, the enteric nervous system (which extends all along the entire digestive tract) has a similar composition. Because their structure is similar, they can communicate with one another, either chemically (through the neurotransmitters) or physically (through the vagus nerve). This communication is bidirectional, meaning it goes both ways, and is known as the gut-brain axis (GBA). This is one of the reasons why when you are stressed (or have a psychological response) you may have the urge to go to the toilet (which is a physiological response) and why a disproportionate amount of people with functional bowel problems like irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) also often suffer from anxiety and depression.


Learn more about how anxiety affects teen’s here


What we consume affects the gut-brain axis

Your gut microbiome, which is the huge population of bacteria that live in the gut, plays an important role in these communication channels. Since we know what we consume affects the density and diversity of the microbes that live in our gut microbiome, it makes sense that tweaking the diet, through changing your diet or taking pre and probiotics, can have an effect on the way that the gut and brain communicate. New research has reinforced this thought, showing us how the gut microbiome has the ability to stimulate neural pathways and affect central nervous system signaling (1).


One of the microbiota’s primary functions is to ferment non-digestible carbohydrates (like fiber, resistant starches, pectins, gums, and cellulose) and in return produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). The amount of SCFAs produced depends on the composition of the microbiota as well as the amount of prebiotics in the diet, which mainly comes from plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Low-fiber starches like refined grains and sugar are primarily absorbed in the small intestine, meaning that very little is left over for the microbiota to feast on (2).


Check out our prebiotic fiber blend here


Why should we care about SCFA?

SCFA are very special because they can have a number of beneficial effects on the body. When it comes to managing your mood, they are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) into the CNS where they exert neuroactive properties which can in turn influence mood and mood disorders, like anxiety and depression (3). If your diet is low in non-digestible carbohydrates (i.e. it is high in protein and/ or fats) end products like nitrosamines and secondary bile acids are produced. These end products may increase levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, which can increase your risk for disease down the line. So having a diet rich in fiber is key to good health in general, including mood, immune and weight support.


Mood improvements

One of the ways that the gut microbiome can improve mood is through modulating neurotransmitters (which are chemical signaling molecules) that allow neurons in the brain and the gut to communicate with each other. The amounts of types of these neurotransmitters created can affect how a person feels and behaves. SCFAs may change the levels of certain neurotransmitters. For example, acetate changes the levels of GABA (which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which relaxes you) while propionate and butyrate regulate the expression of tryptophan 5-hydroxylase 1 which is the enzyme involved in the synthesis of serotonin (our happy hormone) as well as tyrosine hydroxylase which is needed to produce dopamine (or our reward-seeking neurotransmitter) (4,5). In short, when the gut microbiome makes enough SCFA it will have an effect on how relaxed and happy you feel.


Read more about how Relaxify can help your teen manage their moods


Immune support

SCFAs also have the ability to strengthen the physical gut lining, this is important because the physical gut lining is what protects a person from any dangerous microbes that they may have swallowed (either in their food or drink, or simply the microbes that they pick up on their hands). You obviously don’t want these microbes to have access to the bloodstream (where they can make you sick) and so by having a strong gut lining, you are able to keep them out. In addition to this, just like the microbes are able to communicate with the brain, they are also able to communicate with the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (or GALT). This communication allows the GALT to mount an appropriate immune response (not too little, but also not too much). The gut microbiome can also interact with cytokines, which means that it can influence inflammation levels, upregulating anti-inflammatory pathways while downregulating inflammatory ones (6). Some bacterial species even have the ability to suppress pathogens! So having the right kinds of bacteria in your microbiome is one of the ways that you can keep your immune system in check.


Our gut-repair range is ideal for those with a compromised gut lining, you can find it here!


Weight management

Although there are many more benefits related to good gut health, one that is definitely worth mentioning is the link between the microbiome and weight management. It appears that the bacterial profile of people who are overweight is different from their lean counterparts both in quality and quantity. The question we need to ask is: ‘Are people overweight because of the bacteria in their gut or are the bacteria in their gut different because they are overweight?’ It is a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum. Interestingly when people do lose weight, their bacterial composition does start to look more like that of lean individuals. More and more research is being done in this area and it is only a matter of time before we know more (7).


The bottom line

Gut health is important for many more reasons than being able to go to the toilet successfully every day. It is clear that the types of foods and supplements that we use can have a profound effect on our microbiome and in turn the end products that they produce. Altogether they can have an impact on not only your moods and emotions but also your immune system and possibly even your weight. These are all areas of concern for many teenagers, and so by looking after their gut health we may be able to cultivate long-term health benefits that will have long-lasting effects.



  1. Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr-Jun;28(2):203-209.
  2. Cox L, Weiner H. Microbiota Signaling Pathways that Influence Neurologic Disease. Neurotherapeutics. 2018;15(1):135-145.
  3. Ratajczak W, Rył A, Mizerski A, Walczakiewicz K, Sipak O, Laszczyńska M. Immunomodulatory potential of gut microbiome-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Acta Biochimica Polonica. 2019.
  4. Silva Y, Bernardi A, Frozza R. The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2020;11.
  5. Mohammadi AA, Jazayeri S, Khosravi-Darani K, Solati Z, Mohammadpour N, Asemi Z, et al. The effects of probiotics on mental health and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in petrochemical workers. Nutr Neurosci. 2016 Nov;19(9):387-95.
  6. Ratajczak W, Rył A, Mizerski A, Walczakiewicz K, Sipak O, Laszczyńska M. Immunomodulatory potential of gut microbiome-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Acta Biochimica Polonica. 2019.
  7. Aoun A, Darwish F, Hamod N. The Influence of the Gut Microbiome on Obesity in Adults and the Role of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics for Weight Loss. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2020;25(2):113-123.


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