Trust Your Gut: 3 Key Factors to Ensure Optimal Gut Health
Your gut is a great communicator!
It is always on the alert and does its level best to focus our attention, and channel our behaviour in a more holistic way, in order to achieve overall results instead of temporary relief.
What does being healthy mean to you? We often think of health as a feeling or lack of a symptom. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that in order to be healthy, we must have a complete balance of chemical, physical, and emotional well-being. In integrative medicine, we like to look at the whole person, often referred to as holistic health. That means considering the effects on the entire body, not just focusing on one ache or issue.
Health is not merely the absence of disease.
You see, our health is one big complex system and has a domino effect of reactions.
Stay with me here – for the most part, our health is down to our choices. If we are making healthy choices, they compound upon each other and lead to positive results. Similarly, when we make less than amazing choices, these also compound - inflammation begins, our immune response weakens, and we end up with an illness, a symptom, or a feeling that something just isn’t right.
A lot of us have digestive issues, in fact 40% of the population in the United Kingdom suffer from some sort of gastrointestinal disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut, food intolerance, allergies, and celiac disease.
Our gut is home to 100 trillion bacteria – Isn’t that amazing?
Our gut micro biome’s job is two-fold; to protect the mucosal lining of the gut and to only allow nutrients and water to pass through the intestinal wall. A distressed gut allows dangerous compounds to enter the body which provokes an inflammatory reaction. Remember the domino effect, one form of inflammation causes another form of inflammation. What is great about this topic is that with the proper diet and the right lifestyle we can strengthen the gut, leading to an overall improvement in our health and well-being.
Check out these symptoms that are common with a compromised digestive system:
Gas, Bloating, Diarrhea, Weight Gain, Sugar Cravings, Bad Breath, Food Allergies & Sensitivities, Chronic, Pervasive Joint Pain, Moodiness, Depression, & Anxiety, Skin Problems Like Eczema & Acne, Type II Diabetes
Not cool! Did you also know that depression, anxiety, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, cancer, and obesity, can also be directly correlated to a gut issue too?
The bacteria in our gut manufactures almost 95% of your body’s serotonin. Serotonin is our hormone that contributes to feelings of wellness and happiness. Think about how many of us are walking around with a poorly functioning gut. No wonder we don’t feel that great about ourselves sometimes! The more we can do to make sure our gut is well, the better we are going to function and feel!
So here is the good part...3 Key Factors to Ensure a Happy Gut:
1. Limit Processed/Artificial Foods: I know a bag of crisps and a fast food binge are going to happen from time to time.
BUT…what we put in our bodies makes a huge difference to what the output will be. For example, when you drink water you expect it to be clean and free of toxins and chemicals, right? The same should go for the food you eat. Almost all processed foods contain ingredients that are foreign to us, causing a disruption in the body. By limiting the amount of chemicals we put into our body, we can lower the amount of chemical stressors our nervous system has to deal with. Do your body a favour and go withnatural-based foods, to make it easier for your gut to digest.
2. Reduce Stress: Stress is a common chall
enge for many of us, but let’s not underestimate what a unique and lifesaving communicator stress can be! Exposure to chronic stress, increases corticosteroids and other inflammatory markers which highly damage our intestine lining. Stress triggers the release of cortisol. Cortisol helps to mobilize blood sugar so that you can run effectively from an emergency or dangerous situation. Short term bouts of stress are immune boosting and stimulate gut flora growth, but chronic stress acts as a systemic immune suppressant, lowering levels of an important bodyguard of the gut. To make matters worse, under the perception of high stress, cortisol and insulin resemble each other. High cortisol levels will also contribute to high insulin and high sugar, even whilst the cells are starving.
3. Get More Sleep: Last but not least…at the end of the day! We must make sure we are giving our body the rest it needs. We need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sounds like a stretch, but is is vitally important. Often when speaking to patients, they tell me that sleep is a main sacrifice. Believe me, I can relate!However, it is the only time your body gets to rebuild. In fact, we have these caps on the end of our DNA called telomeres. I like to think of them as the protective little plastic caps at the end of your shoelaces. These end caps keep our laces from unravelling. Telomeres are that for our DNA. Our telomeres get worn down by too much stress, too little sleep, improper hydration, and bad food choices. The telomere caps then begin to unravel causing us to age faster and our quality of life to go down. Sleep helps to protect the length and longevity of our telomeres.
Listen to Your Gut!