What’s the first thing you consider as the cause of your fatigue or those mid-afternoon energy slumps? What comes to mind when you’re constipated, forever catching other people’s colds, or when you’re battling hourly mood swings? Do you know what’s underneath your constant sugar cravings?
I’ll bet it’s not your gut that comes to mind…right?
Don’t feel bad! That was me a number of years ago too! I had no idea! It wasn’t until I did my deep dive into holistic health that I was able to get firsthand the impact my own diet, along with some lifestyle stuff going on (stress, medications, etc.) was having on my own gut symptoms. Consuming, dairy products, grains (most, of course, with gluten), incorrectly combining certain foods, along with eating sugar and processed foods left me tired, sluggish, and sometime downright irritable. It took just one cleanse based on an elimination diet for me to connect so many dots and see the profound effect that food and lifestyle choices can have on digestive health and gut function, both of which are integral to overall wellness.
Your gut is so much more than just your stomach digesting food. In fact, many people are shocked to learn that their microbiome – the intestinal gut ecosystem – is critical to their overall health. Put simply, your gut is your gateway to vibrant, thriving health. When digestion is impaired, it impacts all the systems in the body, not just the digestive system. You might call your gut your Grand Central Station. Quite honestly, you can eat as clean as possible, exercise daily, keep stress under control, and get enough sleep, but if your gut is out of balance, you’re not going to feel or be on top of your game.
Thankfully, many researchers are beginning to see the clear connection between the gut and one’s health. They are finally recognizing the importance and need to restore the integrity of the gut’s ecosystem. This is an incredible and exciting move forward for 21st century medicine, especially because so many diseases that are seemingly unrelated to the gut – such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, skin disruption, impaired thyroid, obesity/diabetes, mental illness, autoimmune diseases, and cancer – are often initiated by gut dysfunction and inflammation.
“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates
Gut Health – Breaking It Down
Having a healthy gut is truly the foundation to your wellness, inside and out. Your digestive system is made up of the hollow organs of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine. It also includes the solid tissue organs: the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.
The organs of the digestive system, together with your gut flora, work with a web of nerves, hormones, bacteria, and blood to keep you healthy and balanced.
Let’s take a closer look gut health:
- Bacteria in the GI tract are also called your gut flora. Collectively, the ecological community of symbiotic and pathogenic micro-organisms that share the space of our body, whether in health or illness, are call the microbiome.
- The microbiome helps us digest food.
- They also regulate hormones, help eliminate toxins, and produce vitamins, plus other healing compounds that keep your gut and your body healthy.
- This ecosystem of friendly bacteria must be in balance to do their crucial work.
- Eighty percent (yep, 80%) of your immune system resides in your gut.
- Your immune system and the rest of your body are protected by a lining that functions as a barrier to the toxic environment in your gut
- If that barrier is damaged, you may experience nutritional malabsorption or have a compromised or overactive immune system that triggers inflammation, which can become chronic and systemic.
- Gut protection is key to defending your body from being invaded by unfriendly critters, such as parasites, bad bacteria, viruses, etc.
Gut-Brain axis – your gut’s nervous system
- The gut system actually contains more neurotransmitters than your brain and is often referred to as the “second brain.”
- Messages constantly travel back and forth between your gut-brain and your brain; when those messages are interfered with in any way, your health will suffer.
- The majority – 70-80% – of your happy, feel-good hormone, serotonin, is produced in the gut. If your gut is out of balance, you’ll feel out of balance; without the feel-good hormone, mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can manifest.
- Your digestive system is designed to remove toxins and acid wastes that are by products of metabolism.
- If things get backed up –constipation – your body will become toxic and your overall health will suffer.
- The digestive and gut system is designed to break down all the food you consume into simple usable parts and then delivers the vitamins and minerals, as well as fats, amino acids, and glucose to the bloodstream to nourish your body and brain.
- If your digestive system in not functioning or is out of balance and your body isn’t absorbing nutrients, you can become nutrient deficient even though you are eating the right foods.
Our modern lifestyles are the perfect breeding ground for the bad bacteria that kill off the good guys. Each and every day, the gut system is taxed with poor food choices, medication, stress, etc. The overgrowth of these bad bacteria also impede your immune system and promote illness, infection, and imbalances that will weaken and further inflame your entire system.
Common symptoms of toxic/gut imbalance
- Low energy
- Sluggish metabolism
- Weight gain/inability to lose weight
- Poor sleep quality
- Skin issues
- Mood swings, depression, anxiety
- Brain fog and memory problems
- Low libido
- Low immunity; chronic colds and flu and other infections
- Food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, Celiac disease
- Digestive issues, including gas, bloating, constipation, IBS, GERD, colitis (including ulcerative colitis)
Thriving health begins in the gut.
It’s important to know that without a healthy, balanced gut, your body can never get the nutrients it needs to perform at optimal levels. You can make the changes to be healthy by design. A healthy microbiome needs to be fed and nourished too, so why not try a bonus, gut-balancing, gut nourishing recipe, straight from my kitchen to yours!
Our new family favorite soup, Broccoli-Kale Soup with Lemon-Garlic Chickpeas, contains ingredients that will nourish the gut:
- Leeks, onions and garlic are wonderful prebiotics – these are necessary to feed and fertilize probiotics.
- Coconut oil has anti-microbial properties that can help repair the damage to the digestive terrain.
- Fermented miso is packed with good bacteria
- Green veggies – especially leafy greens like the kale and parsley, along with the broccoli, contain fiber that feeds the good bacteria in the gut
- Chickpeas – improve overall gut health by aiding the movement of material through the digestive system and by preventing constipation.
I hope you try this delicious soup – it’s guaranteed to be a family favorite! BTW this is just one of the delicious recipes in my upcoming seasonal cleanse – eat your way to a clean, healthy gut and drop a few inches on the way!
Go to Recipes or just click HERE