An electric fence in your gut
Anywhere in the body where our insides meet the outside needs a special layer of protection. In the digestive tract – it’s mucus. Mmm mucus – hope you’re not having your lunch?! This kind of mucus though is really helpful. It helps to protect the thin layer of cells that regulate what’s goes in, that is what we need to absorb from our food, versus what stays out.
If your mucus is worn away, those guardians at the gate get damaged. This can mean that function diminishes and frankly they let all sorts of unwanted characters through the protective layer. This can result in inflammation, food intolerances and even lots of other off-site reactions like mood disturbances, skin rashes and more.
The mucus layer is produced by goblet cells which are interspersed through the layer of cells in the digestive tract – gobbing out mucus, see what I did there – gross. Interestingly, this protective layer is so important that we have actually also put a charge into the layer so it acts like an electric fence. We think that’s pretty cool.
Support your mucus layer
So how do you protect this wonderful layer? Like many things related to gut health, feeding your good bacteria is a good first port of call. The layer and bacteria work together and help one another. Good bacteria tell your goblet cells to make more mucus and in turn, some bacteria can use it as a food source. Another win-win relationship that we are now used to hearing about when it comes to good bacteria.
Feeding our good bacteria is about taking in plenty of fibre, including lots of diverse types of fruits and vegetables. Unsurprisingly, eating a diet high in fat, sugars and processed food reduces this protective layer. When our bacteria are hungry, they get upset. In fact, they can get so upset that they turn on us. More bacteria will use the mucus layer as food, given we’re not providing the good stuff, so the layer can begin to be eaten away.
So while we normally think mucus is bad, in this case we want to keep it strong and healthy. Keep your internal security system strong and fire up your electric fence!