We would all do well to remember that the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates is quoted as saying “All Disease Begins in The Gut.” Modern science is finding evidence to support this statement. We now know the health of our digestive systems often reflects the health of our overall body.
Do you ever have a “gut feeling” that something is not right with your digestion? Your gut has a mind of its own, and how it feels has a huge impact on your brain and general wellbeing. The gut has literally been called the second brain of the human body. It’s for this reason that it becomes imperative to give your gut health the boost it needs.
Certain fundamental concepts must be a part of any gut health plan, in order for there to be a positive result from it. Some things are obvious such as you shouldn’t overeat, or eat foods you are allergic too. However, we need to go beyond the basic concepts in order to thrive in our modern world where it is so easy to damage your gut.
The food we eat can be a major detriment to our gut health, or it can be a major benefactor. For instance, functional foods enhance health and wellbeing by boosting metabolism, promoting digestion, improving nutrient absorption, protecting against the risk of disease, and improving weight loss as well as keeping you filled and satisfied. Functional Foods are recommended as a part of any healthy diet. Examples include
- Manuka Honey
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fermented Foods
- Bitter Melon
- Fatty Fish
- Bone Broth
- Avocado oil
One of the biggest changes you can make to your gut health comes from changing your overall diet. The gut microbiome response to different substances will vary from person to person. Therefore certain people may do well on a particular diet while another may not. No matter who you are it’s important to feed the bacteria and yeast populations in your gut healthy food. The body requires this in order for many different processes to function optimally. The microbiota feeds off fermentation, a process that requires fiber as raw materials. If your diet consists largely of refined and processed foods with little to no fiber, the good bacteria in your gut will die off while bad microbes like candida (yeast) will explode.
For your good gut bacteria to thrive, you need to stay on a diet rich in natural, whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. Cut out processed carbs and sugar as these foods negatively affect your gut health. Fill your plates with fiber-rich foods to replenish the population of the gut-friendly microbiome.
If we fail to eat a diet that is right for us, or we are consistently doing something to disturb our digestive systems, then the malfunction of the gut can start to become a more systemic problem. An unhealthy gut can lead to serious issues, even in seemingly unrelated places in the body. Research shows that poor gut health can lead to systemic inflammation, leaky gut, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety and more. The problem can start at birth, with all of the unnatural things babies are exposed to, and all of the natural things that they are not exposed too. The problem, of course, is worsened with unhealthy diets, mental and physical stress, deficiency, toxicity, and all of the other many dangers to our gut microbiome. When you are trying to alleviate some of the potential toxicity damage done to your gut over the many years, you may consider implementing some detox techniques
Some important things to remember when we talk about eating and gut health are:
Avoiding Stress Eating
Stress eating occurs when you resort to food to escape a stressful situation. It’s an abnormal situation that elicits an abnormal response from the body. When you stress eat, the body reroutes blood from the digestive system to other parts of the body, slowing down digestion. This leads to fermentation, which causes gas, bloating and disrupts the gut bacteria population. The imbalance in gut bacteria, elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and insulin resistance which occurs as a result of stress eating can lead to leaky gut syndrome. It’s advisable to eat only when you are hungry. If you are stressed, find other creative ways of releasing tension. Food shouldn’t be used as stress therapy.
Be mindful of Food Combining
Something foreign to many in the Western World is the idea that you shouldn’t eat certain foods together. Science has proven that the body generates different enzymes for different foods. Therefore when you eat very complex meals or incompatible foods, you are stressing your body by demanding it produces multiple enzymes at once. Food Combining can get very complex but we have found that some basic rules may be necessary. Such as fruit, dessert, and sugary items should always be had before the main meal not after. this is because those items digest much faster and if you put them on top of things like meat they sit and ferment and cause discomfort, due to the fact that those foods are not supposed to be in the stomach as long. If you don’t believe me and are feeling daring try to eat a meal of nothing but steak, and watermelon. Two foods that on their own many people tolerate, however together I guarantee, you would feel digestive discomfort.
Eating too frequently
Snacking all day long is bad for many reasons, but it’s especially disastrous for your gut. It gets worse if you are snacking on dairy or grains, foods that agitate the digestive system by fermenting and causing bloat. Your gut needs some time off the work of digestion if it’s going to recover lost microbiota. If you find it difficult to stay off food for four to six hours or overnight, you might be facing an underlying hormonal problem such as leptin or insulin imbalance.
There are many things to consider when you are attempting to improve your gut health. Staying consistent with the strategy that you are attempting to follow is important as well as remembering the massive impact gut health has on overall health. Luckily we have learned so much and will continue to share
If your gut health is still poor after taking the above measures then consider supplementing probiotics, and making more advanced lifestyle modifications towards better gut health. If you continue to experience digestive issues you should see your functional medicine doctor. Your functional medicine doctor hopefully can help determine the underlying cause of your problem and enable you to get the appropriate treatment. You may find the conventional medical system has a hard time effectively diagnosing and treating certain digestive problems. Functional medicine can often fill in gaps where conventional medicine can’t. With digestive issues, there are many tests and treatments available that you will not find at your normal doctor.
In order to be truly healthy, it is critical that we make our digestive systems as healthy as possible. When we combine a healthy diet, lifestyle modalities, and avoiding anything that causes our digestion stress, we can begin to improve our gut health and thus improve our health.
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