9 Steps To A Healthy Gut

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Did you know that your digestive health guides your overall wellbeing?

Quite literally, your digestive system is the center of your physical and mental state. Yet all too many of us are plagued by digestive issues, which has huge implications on our overall vitality. 

But did you know that, if you want efficient digestion, better immunity, and improved clarity, you need to focus on restoring your digestive system.

By supporting the health of your digestive system, you’ll see chronic issues (like fatigue, fogginess, colds, aches and pains) abate, and copious amounts of energy return.

Here, we’re going to 'lift the lid' on gut health. You’ll learn why your digestive system is so important and what it does. Then, we’ll discuss what you can do to ensure that your gut is taking care of you. Let’s get stuck in!

Why your gut is important?

The trillions of microorganisms (bacteria) living in your gut are crucial to your overall health.  They help us digest our food, produce nutrients, train our immune system, and keep our gut tissue healthy.

Your gut also identifies invaders — toxins, microbes, viruses and allergens that could harm your health — and moves them through your digestive system so that they can be excreted.

Your daily food & lifestyle choices are critical in determining whether those trillion plus bacteria support or impede your overall well-being.

What you eat, drink and think affects your gut.

First, the food you choose to eat everyday affects the ratio of helpful to harmful microorganisms in your gut.

Everything you consume is broken down and either absorbed into your body or eliminated via your bowl movements. Your digestive tract completes the awesome task of digesting your food and extracting the nutrients, vitamins and minerals out of the food so that they can be transferred into your bloodstream to then be transported all around your body.

But it’s not just food, other things such as medications (antibiotics and antacids), environmental toxins and chemicals, and illness, all greatly affect the ratio of good to bad bacteria.

Listen to your gut

Stress or emotional imbalances are also a big factor.  Your ‘gut’ is like a second brain and registers stress instantaneously.  This ‘second brain’, also known as the enteric nervous system, is home to 100 million neurons within your intestinal wall. These neurons transmit important information throughout your body, control digestion and send status updates to the brain. 

Although your enteric nervous system initiates and sustains digestion on its own, signals from the brain, such as stress and anxiety, can have dramatic effects on how productive it is.

The brain also receives chemical messages from the gut, which can affect your mood and emotions. 80 - 90% of serotonin (the hormone that regulates mood, sleep, anxiety, depression and more) is made mostly in your gut, not your brain!

So folks, it’s all connected and sadly, few doctors will ask about your gut health when you tell them you’re feeling a bit down.

You see, when your gut is in good shape, about 80-85 percent of bacteria are good and 15-20 percent are the bad guys. However when your body is not in balance, the harmful bacteria can takeover; this is when painful problems like inflammation and infection can arise.  These in turn can lead to health issues such as constipation, candida, allergies, arthritis, headaches, depression, autoimmune diseases, IBS and much more.

Boast Your Immunity

Not many realise that 60-70 percent of your immune response actually lives in your digestive tract.

This is known as gut-associated lymphoid tissue. It lies just below the mucosal lining of the gut wall and is essential to your immune system. The cells contained within this lining are responsible for recognizing and neutralizing unhealthy bacteria.

Your gut also protects you from disease and infection, by harboring an abundance of good bacteria and covering your gut lining with it, thus crowding out the harmful bacteria. 

This lining of good bacteria on the wall of your digestive tract is the only thing standing between everything inside your gut and your bloodstream. That's important!

The three-fold system to getting your gut working for you:

  • Feed your body nutrient-dense plant-based whole foods.
  • Practice healthy habits that will support the good gut bacteria and keep the harmful bacteria under control. That means; reduce stress, exercise regularly, limit exposure to environmental toxins and get a good night's sleep.
  • Support your body with plant-based medicines such as essential oils or herbs when needed.

Let’s break this down further. 

Here’s a list to things you can start doing right now to begin rebuilding your gut.

  1. Take a probiotic supplement. Probiotics can help re-colonize the gut with healthy bacteria.
  2. Take digestive enzymes before each meal.  These enzymes will help with nutrient absorption.
  3. A glutamine-based formula may also be necessary to repair the gut lining. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps repair the digestive tract.
  4. Eat probiotic whole foods. These are whole foods that are fermented and contain large amounts of good bacteria such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, microalgae and coconut kefir.  These are all fantastic plant-based probiotic-rich foods. 
  5. Eat prebiotic whole foods. These are plant based foods that are loaded with fibre.  These high fibre foods feed and support the growth of good bacteria. Some especially powerful ones for the gut lining are raw onions, garlic, dandelion greens, artichokes and bananas.
  6. Don’t eat late at night. Give your body a chance to get rid of bacteria and waste, a process that is interrupted every time you eat. This is why snacking constantly throughout the day is not a good idea. Give your gut a break from digestion.
  7. Drink at least 2 litres of water every single day.  Your gut needs water to keep everything moving.  A well hydrated colon will promote regular bowel movements which in turn will help prevent constipation and bloating.
  8. Avoid refined flour, sugar and processed foods. Bacteria love to eat sugar and sugar reduces immune system functioning.
  9. Reduce stress. Remember your ‘gut’ is like a second brain and registers stress instantaneously. When you experience stress on an ongoing basis, your body goes into fight or flight mode.  This causes your digestion and blood flow to slow down.  As well, the muscles that move waste and bacteria along stall and the production of digestive juices decrease. There are countless types of stress reduction techniques worth trying; meditation, yoga, exercise, essential oils. Experiment to find what works for you.

Use Plant Based Medicines

If you suffer from digestive upset, essential oils may provide some relief.  Use oils while you get to work on eliminating the root cause.  Here you can download the essential oil protocol that I use with clients to help alleviate symptoms while we work on making lifestyle changes.