Updated: Sep 12, 2022
If you're like most people, you probably think of your gut as the thing that makes your tacos taste so good. And while your gut's ability to churn out delicious Mexican food is certainly important, that's hardly it's only function. Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, and they play a crucial role in keeping you healthy.
The health of your gut might be even more important than you realize. Poor gut health has been linked to all sorts of problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. So what can you do to make sure your gut stays healthy?
The gut is like a house, where the inside is either organized or chaotic
As you walk up to the house, it looks perfectly well-maintained from the outside. The lawn is freshly mowed, the flower beds are neatly arranged, and there isn't a weed in sight. But as you get closer, you start to notice something's not quite right. There's a weird smell coming from the house. And when you peer inside through the windows, you can see that the interior is in complete chaos. Papers and clothes are strewn all over the floors, dishes are piled up in the sink, and there's even a rat running around on the kitchen countertop.
You can't believe what you're seeing. This is not how a normal house should look on the inside! But then again, maybe this is how your body works. You may look normal on the outside, but you have to wonder on the inside of your gut: what is really happening inside there? Is there chaos or is everything work working the way it's supposed to?
If you live in an orderly house, things go a lot easier. If you live in a chaotic house, life is harder, very similar to living with poor gut health.
Signs of poor gut health
These physical manifestations can be related to how your gut health is doing:
Digestive problems (like gas and bloating)
Acid reflux or heartburn
Vaginal or rectal infections
Food intolerances (for example you're just all of a sudden sensitive to new types of food)
Inflammation and joint aches/pains
Skin issues (e.g. psoriasis or acne)
This is not an all inclusive list of things we'll see with gut health problems, but they're certainly some of the most common issues we should look out for. Several different things start to show on the outside to reflect a problem on the inside.
The gut is your intestinal tract starting at your mouth and ending at your anus. It consists of everything from the esophagus to the stomach, to the small intestine and even the large intestine. It's the whole tract beginning where food goes in, then gets digested and broken down, and then excreted.
The gut itself has trillions of bacteria, fungi, and organisms. This is normal and you need them. When people say: “I want to get rid of the bacteria inside of me,” we disagree. You need to have that bacteria. It's called your (gut) microbiome, which includes all the little organisms that work together to balance everything in your body.
Your intestinal tract is very important because it houses two-thirds of your immune system. The immune system helps you fight infections and is also what helps you heal quickly after an injury.
The intestinal tract also houses the majority of your neurotransmitter chemical production. As we may know, neurotransmitter chemical production is the essence of our mood hormones. A great majority of our feel-good hormones come from our gut, so the gut can definitely play a part in controlling your mood.
The gut influences your metabolism and how quickly you burn calories, which as a result affects how much energy you have.
These are some pretty incredible functions of our gut. All of these wonderful functions are directly impacted by the bacteria that live and thrive inside of you. The whole symbiotic relationship existing inside our body needs to be balanced so we can make sure that all of these functions work the way they're supposed to.
A Symbiotic Relationship
Maintaining the gut lining
The beneficial bacteria that live inside your intestinal tract are responsible for many life crucial functions. The bacteria in your gut, riding along as passengers, help us absorb nutrients from our food, regulate the immune system, and protect us from the overgrowth of bad bacteria that can make us sick.
The good bacteria also help maintain a healthy gut lining. The mucosal surface lining your intestinal tract has to be intact. Try to imagine the toxins that are supposed to be excreted getting reabsorbed into your system. Some very toxic substances can be reabsorbed if this mucosal lining is compromised. One of these toxic substances is called lipopolysaccharide. It is one of the most toxic things for our nervous system and immune system, as well as blood vessels. If it is reabsorbed by your gut, it will then eventually reach your bloodstream. Therefore, it is vital that you have a nice, healthy gut lining and that good bacteria help maintain it.
Feel good, do good
Good bacteria help regulate your feel-good hormones. As mentioned, this comes from a good relationship with the bacteria inside of you and how it works with your body.
The bacteria in your gut are either helping you or harming you. The fact is, you just can't have optimal wellness if you don't have a good, healthy gut. Below is a list of the top beneficial bacteria that we like to see present in the gut:
Akkermansia muciniphila is a good bacteria that helps the lining of your intestine. More importantly, it also helps protect against obesity. We find that there is very little growth of Akkermansia muciniphila in people who have obesity issues. Luckily, we can help people in this situation by implementing the use of a probiotic supplement with this specific strain of bacteria in it.
This bacteria lives in your intestinal tract, and it helps break down food. It helps prevent issues like constipation and diarrhea. It is useful in helping repair stomach ulcers, specifically those caused by H. Pylori.
How does the gut become unhealthy?
You may be wondering: “What can mess up gut bacteria?”. The reality is that there are more factors to to this than most realize, some of which are out of our own control.
Vaginal vs C-Section
Firstly, being born via a C-section can be one factor. If you were someone born via C-section, you have a distinct disadvantage with your gut health.
When a baby passes through the mother’s vaginal canal for vaginal delivery, they get the same bacteria that she has to populate the gut with. This is vital because it's a healthy preload to what needs to be in your gut as a baby. On the other hand, when a baby is born via a C-section, delivered through the stomach wall, they don’t get any of that exposure.
The bacteria that are present in your gut by the time you reach three years old are the same bacteria you will have for the rest of your life. This is important because it sets the foundation for your health. If you don't have a good balance early on, the same will ring true later on in life. It can be hard to fix and restore the gut health to a more balanced place later in life.
High Sugar Diet
A diet low in fiber, and high in sugar and processed foods, is another reason for imbalanced gut bacteria. It's like setting off a bomb inside your gut for the good bacteria as it completely disrupts how the good bacteria survive and function. Good bacteria feed on fiber and different types of vegetable and food byproducts. But they don’t thrive on sugar, and they don't know how to break down processed foods.
Another thing that can interfere with the health of your gut bacteria is chronic stress. It's amazing to think how much the brain impacts what happens in the gut. This is a whole other topic in itself, but you must understand that chronic stress is one of the biggest factors seen lately (besides diet) that affects gut health.
We've all experienced how a stressful situation or chronic stress can affect your gut. For example, you might be getting ready for a big presentation and all of a sudden you've got all cramps and you have to go to the bathroom, right? This is a perfect example of this distinct relationship, showcasing how easily stress can affect the gut.
Not moving your body
It's no secret that exercise and fresh air are good for your overall health. But did you know that they can also do wonders for your gut health? That's right - all those good bacteria inside your gut need a little fresh air and exercise just like the rest of us! Just think of all the benefits: improved digestion, better nutrient absorption, and a stronger immune system. Not to mention, regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels, which can also have a positive impact on gut health.
The overuse of antibiotics and other medications can adversely affect gut health. Inadequate sleep can also lead to imbalances in the gut microbiota. Thus, it is important to take care when using medications and to get sufficient rest to maintain gut health.
Tips for improving gut function:
Incorporate six to nine servings of vegetables per day
A basic vegetable salad with maybe a few carrots, celery, cucumbers, and tomatoes on it, already makes four to five servings of vegetables there. Smoothies are a great way to get vegetables in, as well. Mix all of your veggies in blender and you have another easy way to get multiple cups of vegetables in. We must strive to get that volume of vegetables daily because the fiber in it is what feeds the good bacteria inside of us.
Include 30 different types of vegetables in your diet each week
Many of you might walk through the grocery store and not even be able to pick out 30 different types of vegetables. But exposure to 30 different types (not 30 servings) of vegetables a week is crucial to maintaining a good gut environment and feeding the good bacteria. However, there are some great supplements available that can assist us in hitting this goal.
One of our favorite options is called Athletic Greens. Another one is Vital Greens. Some essential oil companies even offer vegetable powder blends. Most of these are available for order online, but the key is make sure you are getting organic products that have a nice variety of vegetables included.
Another way to improve gut health is by taking probiotics. Probiotics contain live, beneficial bacteria that can help displace bad bacteria in the gut. In other words, they help keep things balanced. By taking probiotics regularly, you can help ensure that your gut is healthy and functioning properly. This helps keep you healthy by making sure that each type of bacteria can do its job correctly.
Avoid sugar and processed foods
Remember, these types of foods are like a bomb going off inside of you killing all the good bacteria. Cutting it out of your diet for even three to five days will make a huge difference in how you feel. Consider this a challenge for yourself! See how much of a difference you feel after just those few days of change.
Strive to have at least two bowel movements a day
If you're getting all the fiber from the recommended servings of vegetables, there's a pretty good chance you're going to have those bowel movements. Otherwise, make sure you're getting help in some way to keep things in your gut moving like they're supposed to. We don't want to reabsorb toxins, so we have to get those byproducts out of you.
Expose yourself to nature
It's amazing how easily your gut health can benefit from just being outside. Gardening, working in the dirt, or going for hikes are some of the best activities to try. Just getting outside exposure in nature does some pretty fantastic things on our insides.
Your gut health matters for more reasons than you might think. By taking care of your gut, you’re not only improving your health but also the quality of the world around you. The gut is like a house – when it’s organized and well-tended, everything runs smoothly. But when it’s chaotic, things start to fall apart. If you’re experiencing any signs of poor gut health, now is the time to take action. Fortunately, there are many ways to make changes to help you improve your gut function and get back on track to good health. Schedule a discovery call with us today so we can help you assess which tips will work best for you and create a personalized plan for gut success.
If you’re experiencing Gut Health Crisis and would like help getting to the bottom of it, we’d be happy to schedule a discovery call with you. During this call, we can discuss your symptoms in more detail and come up with a plan tailored specifically for you.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional