Most people know this is a topic dear to my heart. I have suffered from digestive issues for as long as I can remember, and so have spent most of my focus within my nutrition studies on learning about improving digestion. And it always leads me to the same place... to learning more about the human gut and its overall importance. Because it all starts there.
I won't bore you with too many details, but I do want to share just a few data points and some applicable tips to start incorporating now!
So recent research has proven the HUGE importance of a having a healthy intestine (aka gut), as an unhealthy gut can lead to a wide range of diseases. What people don't realize is that simple things like digestive problems, headaches, weight gain, and even acne can be a result of your unhealthy gut, and therefore healing your gut can be the key to improving your overall health.
In case you didn't realize, the human gut contain 10 times more bacteria than all cells in the human body! And (unfortunately) only recently are we beginning to understand the huge role that this gut bacteria plays in our overall health. To name a few: the gut bacteria (or flora) promotes normal gastrointestinal function, it provides protection from infection, it regulates the metabolism, among other things. Most importantly, the gut flora is a key contributor to detoxification as it rids the body of about 40% of the toxins in the food we eat (it's like a second liver!).
Unfortunately many factors in modern life are killing our much-needed gut flora, as well as the gut lining. Some key factors damaging our gut include: antibiotics, the birth control pill, chemicals, food preservatives, stress and even c-section births!
So what can we do about it?
With some awareness regarding the importance of your gut, and some simple actions, you can support your intestinal flora and get your health on track. Some key action points include:
1. Start taking a daily multi-strain probiotic.
Some good brands include Klaire Labs, Be Well by Frank Lipman Probiotic powder, and Renew Life Ultimate Flora. It's also good to switch between probiotics to ensure you're getting all the different needed strains and amounts. (Just make sure you get your probiotics in the refrigerated section of your local health market, and look for at least 15 billion count).
2. Introduce raw fermented vegetables into your diet.
Try raw sauerkraut and kimchi, as these are loaded with healthy probiotics. (Just make sure they are raw, refrigerated, and have no added vinegars)
3. Eat organic, chemical-free whole foods.
Look up the list of the "dirty dozen" to see which fruits and veggies are most contaminated so that you at least make sure to buy these organic. And do your best to buy organic, hormone-free meats and wild fish.
Also, avoid skin care, make-up, and home products with harmful chemicals. (You can find more information on the Environmental Working Group's webpage, ewg.org).
4. Reduce stress in your life.
Try incorporating yoga and meditation into your life, and focus on being present in the moment. Practice mindfulness.
5. Avoid antibiotics when possible.
If you must take antibiotics, make sure to complement them with probiotics. Also, talk to your doctor about removing the birth control pill.
Following these steps every day will help replenish your healthy gut bacteria and provide numerous health benefits - from weight loss, to better skin, and longer term prevention of illness. For people with IBS and other digestive problems, I'd also recommend doing a two or three week cleanse focused on healing the gut.
FYI- I did a cleanse for my gut last year and its what really jump-started my path to better health. My digestions improved, and I lost a few pounds. And if you look in my fridge nowadays, you'll always find a bottle of probiotic capsules and some raw sauerkraut, among many organic veggies!
For more information and guidance, sign up for a complimentary 1x1 health history session with me at www.balancewithmariana/contact or email me at email@example.com.