Why is Gut Health So Important?
Did you know our gut is our second brain and that the health of your gut it related to your OVERALL health? Think about it, do you remember the age-old sayings “go with your gut” or a “gut feeling”? These phrases didn’t just come out of nowhere! Your brain’s primary feel-good chemicals (like serotonin) are synthesized in the gut, so if you are constipated (or experiencing the opposite) you better believe it is going to affect your mood! Some medical professionals have even found a connection between gut health and mental health – in one case a woman literally put her schizophrenia into remission by cutting gluten from her diet – crazy right?!
So if you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, acne, etc. your gut could be the culprit. It’s time to start focusing on what your insides look like as much as you’re focusing on what your outside looks like.
So How Does Our Gut Get Out Of Whack?
There are multiple contributing factors when it comes to poor gut health – and unfortunately, with today’s stressors, chemicals found in food, and antibiotics being pushed on us for even the smallest of colds, most people are experiencing out of whack digestion. So let’s break down what might be messing your gut up:
Poor diet. If you eat a diet high in processed, inflammatory or sugary foods you will find yourself having more digestive stress. Not sure which foods are considered inflammatory? Think gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, and soy.
Medications. Most antibiotics and many medications can literally KILL important gut flora. If at any point you have frequently taken antibiotics or medications you may need to restore the balance of your gut.
Stress. If you’re experiencing a lot of it your gut may be taking a beating. When we are stressed we secrete a hormone called “cortisol” which is necessary for our body to function but too much of it can cause a decrease of oxygen in our gut, which becomes damaging.
Alcohol. If you are regularly consuming alcohol your intestines can become highly irritated – and even occasional consumption can be damaging to someone who is already experiencing severe gut dysfunction. I suggest taking 40 days to detox to your system from alcohol so your gut can get a fresh start.
Autoimmune conditions. Almost all people who suffer from autoimmune disorders have some sort of gut issues. Since most of our immune system is located in the gut there is a large correlation between the two. Leaky gut has been known to contribute to autoimmune disorders as well as autoimmune disorders can cause leaky gut.
Hormone imbalances. If your hormones are out of whack it can be almost impossible to heal your gut. If you do think you’re experiencing imbalances of estrogen, testosterone, or progesterone I suggest focusing on balancing your hormones simultaneously while focusing on your gut.
I know I shared some of the negative effects of poor gut health above but I really want to emphasize how many of today’s illnesses start in our digestive tract.
Poor gut health has been linked to several health ailments such as:
- Skin Problems Like Acne and Eczema
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Diabetes 1 and 2
- Inability to Lose Weight
The Most Important Part of This Entire Blog Post is This: How Do We HEAL the Gut?
- Drink LOTS of water. At least half a liter, I suggest carrying around a water bottle as a constant reminder to stay hydrated.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods. Think kimchi, sauerkraut, gut shots, probiotic-rich dairy free yogurts, high-quality miso soup – below I have pictured some of my current gut healing foods I have in my fridge.
- decrease your stress. This one I feel like is easier said than done – how do we exactly decrease our stress? Stress is extremely harmful to the immune system and can cause damage to your gut’s lining. Some great options to combat daily stressors are making time for meditation (even if it’s 3 min a day), journaling, acupuncture or exercise!
- An elimination diet. One of the best ways to heal your gut is to remove the foods that put it in a bad state in the first place. In order to figure out what foods your body is not responding well to you need to cut out inflammatory food altogether for a minimum of 40 days. From there you can slowly introduce these foods back into your diet one by one to see what ones your body is negatively responding to. I love the “Against All Grain” Cookbooks because they are all based around the premise of the anti-inflammatory diet (no corn, soy, gluten, and dairy)
- Take probiotics. Along with eating probiotic-rich foods, it’s a good idea that you introduce a probiotic supplement to make sure you are getting enough of this good for you bacteria. HERE is one of my favorite probiotics.
- Add gut healing supplements to your regimen. Some of the best supplements for gut healing include: L-glutamine and magnesium. I take my L-glutamine in powder form mixed with water once daily and I use a topical magnesium spray before I go to bed at night.
- Drink Marshmallow Root Tea. This root has been known to help repair damaged gut lining (especially in cases of leaky gut). Don’t have enough time for tea? You can also find this in supplement form.