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Gut instinct

Nine facts about the body’s most underrated organ....

Magic numbers
The gut has more than 100bn bacteria to every gram of intestinal content.
Grow healthy
Plant-based foods, fibre, fruits, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and olive oil encourage a healthy gut.
digestive system
A cut above
If the vagus nerve connecting the brain and gut were severed, the digestive system would function independently.
Bowl of fermented foods
What goes in...
Populations that frequently eat fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and miso tend to have better gut health and less bowel disease.
Glass of water
Stay hydrated
The most effective way to maintain gut health is to drink more water. The gut is essentially a long, slippery tube.
Chemical reactor
Chemical reactor
The gut produces considerably more neurotransmitters – which influence our mood and behaviour – than the brain does.
Keep calm
Keep calm
Stress produces an influx of adrenaline, which shuts down digestion and can cause bloating, so take deep breaths and relax while eating.
Measure up
Measure up
A 9m-long organ with 800 to 900 folds, the gut would cover an entire tennis court if laid out flat.
Get active
Get active
Exercise stimulates the digestive tract and encourages healthy digestive-transit enzymes.