A Healthy Gut is Key to a Healthy You
Hippocrates is famous for his quote: “All disease begins in the gut.” In fact, if you have any of the following issues, there’s a good chance you have a disrupted gut.
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Autoimmune disorders
- Poor digestion, bloating, gas, or nutrient malabsorption
- Irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
- Thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism, particularly Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Mood disorders, including anxiety and depression
- Chronic pain in joints and muscles including arthritis and headaches
- Skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne
7 Strategies to Restore Optimal Gut Health
Over 100 million Americans have digestive problems. Two of the top ten selling drugs in America are for digestive issues, costing us billions of dollars. Over 200 over-the-counter remedies exist for digestive disorders, many of which unfortunately create additional digestive problems. Intestinal disorders are among the most common causes for visits to primary care providers.
Most of us do not realize that poor digestive health wreaks havoc on our entire body, leading to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders and dementia. Having a properly working gut is essential to our overall health.
There are 500 species and three pounds of bacteria in our gut; it’s a living and breathing factory that helps digest our food, produce vitamins, regulate hormones and excrete toxins. Too many bad bugs like parasites, yeasts or bad bacteria, or not enough of the good ones like lactobacillus or bifidobacteria, can lead to serious consequences.
Our gut has the big job of removing toxins that arrive via bile from the liver, a natural byproduct of our metabolism. If things get backed up, we will become toxic.
Another barrier to good gut health is a compromised gut lining. Our entire immune system and our body is protected from the toxic environment in our gut by a layer only one cell thick. This thin layer covers a surface area the size of a tennis court! If that barrier becomes damaged, we will get sick and suffer from an overactive immune system that produces inflammation throughout the body.
As if this isn’t enough, our gut must break down all the food we eat into its individual components and separate out the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. It is easy to understand why even in a perfect world our gut might have a hard time keeping up.
So, how do we keep our gut healthy?
Remember that every case is different. Strategies to improve gut health should be individualized. Consult a functional or holistic health care provider for treatment options. That said, everyone can benefit from employing healthy practices to restore good gut health and functioning:
- Take digestive enzymes with meals. These help break down food while our gut heals. You may need these for two or three months, and many people benefit from taking them permanently.
- Remove sugary, processed foods. Besides wrecking your gut, these foods contribute to diabetes and obesity. Replace these with real, whole, fresh foods. Take an afternoon to hunt and gather in the kitchen. No excuses. If it is not real food, throw it out.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.Inflammation underlies many gut conditions, so we want to incorporate plenty of anti-inflammatory foods like wild-caught fish into our diet. Fish oil and an anti-inflammatory protein powders can also reduce inflammation in our gut.
- Take gut-healing nutrients.Other nutrients that help heal the lining of the gut include zinc and glutamine. You might also consider a combined gut-healing nutrient supplement.
- Eat fermented foods.Include plenty of probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso or sauerkraut. These are all foods that help our gut flora get and stay healthy.
- Exercise regularly.Even 30 minutes of vigorous walking can help improve gut conditions.
- Reduce stress. Studies exist that show chronic stress can increase gut issues. Whether you choose to use yoga, meditation or deep breathing, you want to do something that controls stress that you can do regularly.
If you are not getting better, you may need medical help such as treatment for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, food allergies or other underlying infections or conditions. Imagine experiencing renewed health from the inside out. Start showing some love for your gut today.