“All Disease Begins in the Gut”
Hippocrates is known as the father of medicine – this guy knew his stuff!
Over 2,000 years later, we are still trying to figure out all the things the mighty Gut does.
I get a lot of questions on Gut health so this post will help breakdown the basics.
LET’S START WITH WHAT THE GUT IS AND WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT BECAUSE BEFORE WE HEAL IT OR TREAT IT, WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT IT IS.
To put it simply, your Gut is your entire digestive system.
It is the only place the outside world is allowed inside the body! Talk about a BIG responsibility, which can also be a stressful one, depending on what we let in. The key to good health is taking care of your Gut and ensuring it is running optimally.
WHAT DOES THE MIGHTY GUT DO?
- Breaks down food to increase bioavailability and absorb nutrients
- Protects from pathogens, bacteria, and toxins
- Removes waste, excess hormones, and toxins
- Produces hormones and neurotransmitters such as serotonin. (Serotonin helps regulates mood, behavior, sleep, appetite, & digestion. 90% of it is made in our Gut!)
- Manages inflammation
- Helps regulate blood sugar
- Has a direct connection to the brain through the vagus nerve and is often called the 2nd brain.
- Houses over 60% of our immune system
I’m just scratching the surface here. The Gut is super SUPER important for our overall health.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES WE FACE WITH OUR GUT HEALTH?
I’m no stranger to Gut trouble. I struggled with Ulcerative Colitis, and it took me a long time to figure out how my food & lifestyle choices were affecting my health. I’ve learnt, grown, and am healing every day.
In general, there are 2 issues we face with our Gut health. Leaky Gut and Dysbiosis
“Leaky Gut” or increased intestinal permeability
Your Gut is made of tight junctions that allow water & nutrients to pass through to the bloodstream but prevent toxins & other harmful substances from making it through. If these junctions loosen and become weak, the harmful substances can “leak” through the intestinal wall before your body can get rid of them. These pesky visitors in your bloodsteam cause your body to be in a continuous mode of defense. Because your body is busy fighting off all the stuff that should not be entering your body, other crucial processes like hormone regulation are ignored. Leaky Gut leads to many other issues such as food allergies, autoimmune diseases, systemic inflammation, and more.
Dysbiosis -A microbial imbalance in the Gut
This microbial imbalance could mean one of two things or both:
- The harmful bacteria is overcrowding the good bacteria,
- You don’t have sufficient diversity of bacteria in your Gut.
WHY DO THESE ISSUES HAPPEN?
The top reasons are:
- Bad Digestion
- STRESS - both mental & physical
- A diet full of offensive, inflammatory foods
- High sugar intake
- Lack of dietary diversity leading to nutrient deficiencies (Vitamin D is a big one)
- Overuse of Alcohol
- Overuse of medication like antibiotics & NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Exposure to toxins
- Chronic inflammation
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU HAVE ONE OR BOTH OF THESE ISSUES?
You may want to look out for the following signs:
- Food Sensitivities
- Digestive issues such as bloating, gas, & Diarrhoea
- Sugar cravings (bad bacteria feeds on sugar)
- Autoimmune conditions (Leaky Gut causes your body to attack itself)
- Weakened immunity (You keep getting the same old cold, flu, cough, etc.)
- Allergies like stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, other ENT issues, seasonal allergies
- Unintentional weight changes
- Skin conditions like eczema, acne, rosacea, urticaria, etc.
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormone imbalances
- Pre-diabetes or diabetes
- Moodiness, anxiety, and depression (don’t forget the Gut-Brain connection)
- Dark under-eye circles, even when you get sufficient sleep
- Nutrient deficiencies because you aren’t absorbing them
- Bloatedness at the end of the day
The TLDR is: your Gut affects everything! If you are feeling generally off, you might want to show your Gut some love. You can also consider getting some tests done. A stool analysis and inflammation markers are reasonable indicators of Gut health. Still not sure what might be causing your symptoms? I highly recommend keeping a food & mood journal for a few weeks. It’s incredible how telling it can be when we write down what we eat along with our digestive reactions, mood, energy, & sleep.
STEPS TO SHOW YOUR GUT THE LOVE IT DESERVES!
1. Get rid of the stuff that got your Gut into this mess in the first place
- Reduce stress - both mental and physical
- Remove processed and refined foods from your diet
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Say goodbye to refined and hydrogenated fats
- Remove foods that you are sensitive to (common ones being gluten and/or dairy)
- Reduce the use of antibiotics & NSAIDS
2. Improve your digestion
- Digestion is a north-to-south process. Ensuring simple steps like being in a calm state of mind and chewing your food can do wonders for it! There are many therapeutic ways to improve your digestion health if you require.
3. Add in healing Foods
- Fermented & cultured foods
- Bone broth/meat stocks
- Nutrient-dense & antioxidant-rich foods (lots of veggies)
- Increase Omega 3 rich foods
- Increase healthy fats
4. Supplements & Herbs
- Herbs - slippery elm, marshmallow root, licorice root
- Supplements: L-Glutamine, Collagen, Digestive enzymes, zinc, vitamin D
- Essential oils to reduce stress & improve digestion
- Get enough sleep
- Practicing mindfulness through journaling, breathing, meditation, yoga, etc.
- Focus on what makes you happy and make changes to bring more of that into your life
- Remove negativity (including negative people)
- Reduce stress! (mental & physical)
This post is written by Riyana, a certified holistic nutritionist (NTP) of Healthy-ish and Happy.Riyana Rupani | NTPCertified Holistic Nutritionist, Mom of three, and a lover of all things food!Riyana is focused on helping individuals & families create lasting health changes through real food and lifestyle. Riyana found her passion for holistic nutrition after suffering from a multitude of health issues herself. After many years of medication and doctor visits, she started to research ways to heal and eventually found the power of Holistic Nutrition. Riyana was able to turn her health around by nourishing from the inside out and is now passionate about helping others do the same.