Take Care Of Your Gut, Or Else...
More than just a saying to be given the same weight as any old wives tale, research is revealing that the gut really does directly impact not only your brain but also your entire body and it plays an essential roll in mental and physical well-being.1
A healthy gut contains over 100 trillion microorganisms. If you’re having trouble comprehending such a large number, you’re not alone. To count from 1 to 1 trillion would take nearly 32,000 years! (Now you only have to do that 99 more times.) These 100 trillion microorganisms are made up of over 400 different varieties of gut flora that are responsible for regulating metabolism, proper digestion of food, manufacturing vitamins, and over 75% of your immunity. Keeping your microorganisms thriving is clearly very important. When those little guys are healthy, you are healthy. But what happens if gut health is not your reality?
when a good gut goes bad
Unfortunately, when it comes to your gut, you don’t only need to be concerned about the common issues like pains, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. When gut flora is not on the up and up it can lead to a myriad of more serious, and less obvious, problems including:
- Autoimmune disorders, including hashimoto’s disease
- Autism-spectrum disorder
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Chronic fatigue
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- And more.2
The gut truly is the gateway to good health, both physically and mentally. Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Now seen as more than ancient thinking, studies are revealing more and more just how true that statement is. Unfortunately, the common dietary and lifestyle choices we make today can have a very detrimental affect on the health of the gut and the body. Things like:
- Food toxins
- NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.)
- Refined and processed foods
Healing Your Gut
The good news is that healing your gut and improving your health and well-being is possible. But it will take some adjustments. So what can you do today to get started?
- Relax - stress is one of the issues that contributes to a decline of healthy gut flora. Take steps to eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Make time for yourself to things each day that you love and that bring you joy. Go for a walk, read a good book, soak in a bath, get a massage, take an art class, meditate. Whatever you do, just remember: have fun and relax.
- Exercise - Breaking a sweat is not only important for your waistline, it’s important for encouraging species diversity in your gut and reversing any previous damage to your gut flora. And exercise is also great for reducing stress. If you’re not up to an intense workout, that’s fine. Start at your level. A brisk walk or a killer weight session can both be beneficial and healing and repairing your gut. Just make sure you give your body plenty of time to rest and recovery between workouts.
- Eliminate - Take steps as much as possible to eliminate refined and heavily processed foods from your diet. In addition corn, soy, dairy, gluten, and eggs can be common inflammatory triggers for many people. If you are having gut issues, try removing these foods from your diet for 2 weeks and then slowly reintroducing them one at a time to see how they make you feel and if you should eliminate them permanently. Avoid taking medications and antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. NSAIDs like ibuprofen and advil, along with antibiotics, can damage and deplete gut flora.
- Eat - “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” More great advice from the father of medicine, Hippocrates. The food you eat has the power to harm or heal your gut. Make sure that what you eat is taking you towards better health and not further away from it. Although it can be more time consuming, making and preparing your own real food can have profound impacts on your gut health. Eating a large variety of high fiber, plant-based foods is key. Fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and high-quality, grass-fed meats should be the basis of your daily diet. In addition adding fermented and fermentable foods will support gut health:
- 1 - Fermented Foods such as Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, and Kim-chi will support and encourage healthy gut flora. If making your own isn’t possible, look for options that contain live and active cultures. Eating these foods and taking a high quality pro-biotic can put you on the right track to healing your gut.
- 2 - Fermentable Fibers, found in foods like sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, leeks, onions, and bananas, protect against inflammation, support healthy flora growth, and boost immune function
The body is an entire network, not just a series of separate parts. Everything works together. When one system is out of wack it can and does affect the whole. Never is this more apparent than in that of the gut.
“All disease begins in the gut.” This phrase may strike fear, but it can also be a ray of hope. If all disease begins in the gut, then it stands to reason that all disease can be healed in the gut. By taking steps to heal your gut you may have the power to heal your whole body. If you are suffering with any of the above issues or just want to take steps to prevent future illness, now is the time! Letting go of stress,6 eating whole foods, eliminating the garbage from your diet, and getting more active can help you turn your gut health around and reclaim your mental and physical well-being.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
- Kresser, Chris. Episode 9 – the “gut-brain axis”. ChrisKesser.com. 2011.
- Myers, Amy. 10 Signs You Have An Unhealthy Gut + How To Heal It. MindBodyGreen. 2014.
- Kresser, Chris. A healthy gut is the hidden key to weight loss. ChrisKresser.com. 2010.
- Kresser, Chris. 9 Steps to Perfect Health – #5: Heal Your Gut. ChrisKresser.com. 2011..
- Sakimura, Johannah. Eat These 3 Foods for a Healthy Gut. EveryDayHealth.com. 2015.
- 5 SIMPLE WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR GUT FLORA. PaleoLeap.com. 2016.