Is Your Gut Healthy?
Something that doesn’t get much attention but has a huge impact on your health is your gut. Your digestive system is made of of several parts but what I am referring to when I say “gut” is your small and large intestines. They play a huge role in your over all health, affecting how you eliminate toxins and wastes as well as how well your immune system functions. Your small and large intestine are also responsible for absorbing nutrients from your food.
Many people suffer from digestive problems like heartburn, acid reflux, irritable bowel or chronic constipation. These are only a few signs of an unhealthy gut. Other symptoms can include frequent colds, infections, food allergies, auto immune disorders or skin problems like acne, rashes and eczema. In children, colic and poor sleeping patterns may be a sign of an unhealthy gut.
Your gut is a huge ecosystem of bacteria. You want it to be filled with the right kind of bacteria to function properly to remove waste, take in good nutrients and promote a strong immune system. There are things that can cause an imbalance in the healthy bacteria in your gut and welcome the bad bacteria. High sugar, processed and artificial foods cause the bad bacteria to grow. Over use of over the counter meds for acid, gas or bloating can distrupt the proper function of digestion. If you have recently had a round of steroids or antibiotics they will kill the bad bacteria that caused your infection but they also kill the good bacteria your gut needs! Other prescription drugs and toxins like mercury or pesticides can kill the good bacteria and promote the overgrowth of bad bacteria. Another silent killer of good bacteria is stress!
What can you do to promote optimal gut health?
There are some simple steps you can take to heal your gut and bring it back to performing at an optimal level.
1. Stop eating JUNK! Eliminate fake, processed foods that are filled with trans fats, preservatives and are highly processed. No deep fried foods. No foods with high sugar content. This includes drinks too like sodas, diet drinks or traditional sports drinks,
2. Eat REAL food. Choose fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, lean meats. Go to a local farmers market or grow food in a garden. Purchase naturally grown foods that don’t use chemicals in the process. After my cancer diagnosis four years ago, my husband found a way to grow all our food naturally without pesticides or other nasty chemicals. Growing naturally is even better than organic foods that still allow a small number of chemical uses.
3. Eat good healthy fats to heal the lining of your intestines and decrease inflammation. Avocados, salmon, nuts, olives, coconut oils. Omega 3 supplements that are free from mercury and PCBs, are good places to start.
4. Replenish the good bacteria in your gut. This can be accomplished by supplementing with a good probiotic (they are not all created equal) or eating cultured vegetables. Check out www.kimwaggoner.com for recipes on making your own cultured veggies. Recent studies are showing that healthy bacteria found probiotics and cultured foods are promoting weight loss. Bonus!
5. Drink clean filtered water. Water contaminated with chemicals kill off good gut bacteria. I use a water pitcher that filters out 56 contaminates including lead!
6. Consider if you have a true food allergy, such as gluten. You could eliminate gluten or dairy for a period of time and see if you notice a difference in how you feel.
7. Get regular exercise. This promotes the moving of waste and toxins to be eliminated and not reabsorbed back into your blood stream.
So many times our society wants to take a pill to stop acid reflux (learn more in the blog on laryngopharyngal reflux or LPR), help bloating or even a cream to fix eczema. I think the symptoms that we experience is the way our bodies cry out for help. I am a huge advocate for NOT treating the symptoms but using those symptoms as an indicator of a deeper problem within our body that needs addressed. Most of the the time those “quick fix” over the counter pills or prescriptions only mask a symptom and produce more side effects and hurt overall health, causing serious impact – sometimes leading to court even (find some lawsuit info, an example of personal and medical neglecting). Instead of looking for that quick fix, consider taking steps to heal your body from the inside out. You will experience so many health benefits along the way.