When thinking about the gut we need to imagine it in order to understand it. From an evolutionary perspective, it is amazing how similar our gut is to an earthworm. Earthworms are the composting mechanism of the garden. A worm doesn’t have a brain, yet it contains a nervous system, similar to our gut. It has a long, tube like anatomy with a mouth that simply eats and excretes compost {food} turning it into available nutrients for the garden plants to absorb {our bodies}. The role of worms in the soil is essential for nutrient absorption so therefore, worms are essential to the life of plants and the planet. They eat the soil, and poop out the nutrients. This manure is what the garden needs to become a powerhouse of nutrition for the plants. This worm poo is called humus and this humus is gold to the organic gardener. It is a darker black looking soil {the same colour as a healthy looking stool} which is what you want in order to have healthier plants {and a healthy body}. Worms like to eat organic matter {just like we need healthy food, fruits and vegetables}, so if you aren’t feeding your soil good healthy organic matter the worms cant make the nutrients available. A good healthy soil is also made up of billions of microorganisms {similar to our microbiome}, plant matter {fibre} and water. If it doesn’t get enough water it dries up {constipation} and if there isn’t enough clay-like soil {fibre} it can’t hold the water {diarrhoea}. In order to create good soil you need to feed it healthy organic matter. If you can imagine a farming situation where a soil has plenty of organic compost added frequently, this will give a balance of carbon {carbohydrates} and nitrogen {protein} plus minerals. Just like this, our bodies need good, nutrient rich food to feed our bodies. The worms digestive enzymes  translate the organic matter into bioavailable nutrition for the plants just like our gut processes and transfers vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins for us to absorb. What our bodies enzymes don’t digest our microbiome finishes for us.

So there you have it, our gut is a garden and the food you put into it does matter. It needs a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats and it needs a healthy microbiome. It needs fibre and water and a good healthy humus or stool is dark brown. Your gut needs to be constantly active {our body movements also stimulate peristalsis} and have a healthy nervous system in order to work properly. Sound simple?

By the way the answer is ‘yes’ 😉

Simone Reddington is the founder of the Apothecary, a Medical Herbalist and thinker. She takes education seminars at the Apothecary and is a professional member of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists.