When most people think of gut problems, they think of bloating, gas, constipation, heartburn…all the unpleasant digestive issues that go along with having an unhealthy gut. So, you may be surprised to discover that your gut does so much more than digest your food. Practically everything about your body is connected to your gut, including your weight. The old saying holds true: “Health begins in the gut.” Oddly, most doctors and dietitians alike ignore the gut, and just write a prescription. With our clients, we’ve found solving weight loss problems, sugar addiction, brain fog, anxiety, fatigue and pretty much every health ailment is resolved much faster when we make the gut our starting point.
Now, you might not think about your gut much—and you’re not alone. But now it’s time to change that. Your digestive system may be the single most important factor in reclaiming your health. It very likely is the key to unlocking your stubborn weight loss, getting rid of unbearable cravings, resolving aches and pains that you mistakenly thought just came along with age, improving your immune system so you’re not always sick and tired, and feel younger with a new boost of energy that you thought was long gone. Holy moly! The gut sure is the power-center for your well-being...or lack thereof.
If your gut health isn’t up to par, then your body isn’t breaking down and absorbing even the most nutritious foods. It is important to make the best food choices, but it’s just as important for your body to be able to digest that food.
After working with thousands of clients, I’ve observed that most of us have varying levels of impaired gut health. Thanks to years of following diets (consuming an excess of processed carbohydrates and sugar), rounds of antibiotics as a kid, or consuming conventionally raised meat and dairy products full of hormones; most of us have impaired gut health.
Let’s explore what “gut health” even means, and how your gut became unhealthy.
What is Gut Health?
The term gut health covers digestion and absorption of food, along with immune system status. Your gut is where nutrients are absorbed, assimilated, and incorporated into the body. Gut health dictates every other process, system, organ, and cell in your body! In the same way that our solar system revolves around the sun, your bodily systems revolve around your gut. Unfortunately, for most people, their gut has become a black hole of bodily dysfunction.
Scientists recently began calling the gut your “second brain." This is because your neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are made in your gut, which means your gut works in tandem with your brain! There is a continual exchange of chemical messages between the two systems. You may already be familiar with this. Maybe when you are nervous or stressed, you get nauseous or an upset stomach. Conversely, problems in your gut can impact your mental health, and lead to anxiety or depression.This also adds new meaning to the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Long before the research supported this connection, this link has been apparent. You may get a stomach ache when you are anxious—a possible origin of the phrase, “I have a gut feeling.”
On top of everything else, your gut serves as the battlegrounds for good bacteria to fight off foreign invaders. Your gut is a barrier against toxins and pathogens, and about 70%of your entire immune system is located in the gut.
What wreaks havoc on the gut?
The things that contribute to poor gut health include, but are not limited to the following:
• Refined carbohydrates
• Processed Food
• Artificial sweeteners
• Chronic stress
• Chronic infections
• Food sensitivities and allergies
5 Steps to Healing Your Gut:
1) Keep your sugar intake low. Refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods create an environment in your gut flora where bad bacteria thrive. Strive to get your carbohydrates from veggies and fruits and have plenty of protein and healthy fat at your meals (PFC is key.)
2) Include fermented foods on a daily basis. Fermented foods are naturally high in favorable bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt and kombucha are a few good ones.
3) Supplement with the 3 Key Gut Health supplements (probiotic, glutamine and fish oil). Nearly everyone can benefit from supplementing with a good quality probiotic, especially if you are not including fermented foods. Probiotics boost the good bacteria in your gut. Glutamine is an amino acid (a building block of protein), which helps to rebuild and maintain the structural integrity of the thin lining of the digestive tract. Fish oil targets the inflammation in your gut and heals it. Together, the combination of these three supplements promote healthy intestinal lining and proper digestion by rebuilding that intestinal lining and restoring the good bacteria.
Note: Not all supplements are created equal, so we offer our favorite pharmaceutical grade ones in the Real Food Vitamins Store. Our general recommendation is 1 capsule of ProbioVive™ and 3 Pure Glutacaps taken before meals, and 1-2 softgels of Pure Fish Oil at meals, dpending on your goals. If you’re taking an antibiotic, the most important thing you can do for your gut is to counter it with probiotics (remember, antibiotics don’t discriminate; they kill off your good AND bad bacteria.) When on an antibiotic, our general recommendation is at least 3 capsules of probiotic per day for the duration of the antibiotic and 2 weeks after.
4) Manage your stress. Because your gut is intricately linked to your state of mind, stress affects your gut health.
5) Don’t let food sensitivities go unchecked. For some people, food sensitivities and/or allergies may increase inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract. The BIG FIVE food allergens are: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts. This may seem obvious, but if you know you have a food allergy or sensitivity, completely avoiding the food is better for your gut. In personal coaching sessions, we help clients determine if they have any food allergies or sensitivities that may be impairing gut health and/or standing in the way of reaching their goals.
By implementing these strategies, you can rebuild, repair and support your gut, which in turn gives you life and energy. In my next post, Digging Deeper into Gut Health, we look closer at the normal digestive process and what can go wrong.
In the meantime, grab my step-by-step guide with 5.5 ways to boost your metabolism and improve your energy levels and weight by clicking the pink button below!