Did you know that 70% of our immune system is in our gut?! There are actually more nerve endings in the gut than in the central nervous system! This is why every disease starts here, in our gut!
What does our gut do?
So to understand why we are having so many issues, we first need to work out what our gut actually does.
Our digestive tract, when rolled out would cover a whole tennis court. Because of direct contact to the outside world, it is open to infection. This is why it needs to be protected with thick band of bacteria. This bacterium repels foreign objects and doesn’t let them enter the body. The bacteria also metabolise food and gets vitamins and minerals into our body, through the blood stream. These vitamins and minerals are then sent straight to the brain, then all through the body to give us what we need to function.
What causes and what are the symptoms of compromised gut health?
Feeling a little moody or flat? Experiencing autoimmune diseases (like arthritis), allergies or skin conditions? Your gut health may be compromised due to one or more of the following:
- Stress & pace of modern life:
When we are in the ‘fight or flight’ mode, when we are stresses, or busy rushing around, our body focuses on survival and moves all the blood from our digestive system to our extremities, so we can act – fight or run (this stems back from caveman times). Too often we are in this state and not in ‘rest and digest’, which impacts on our digestion, absorption, gut barrier function & flora.
Things like gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and medications (such as the pill and antibiotics) not only disrupt our gut flora and throw out the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ gut bacteria, but also damage the lining of our gut, which is only one cell thick! We are also snacking too much…There’s a time between meals that helps with cleansing the gut, which gives it time to detox and heal. And in most cases this is not happening.
Every course of antibiotics we take compromises the gut more and more. Not only do medications destroy the bad bacteria, they also destroy the good. The ‘bad’ bacteria take over. It takes 6-12 months for the gut to fully heal after one course of antibiotics!
It is not only what we have done to our gut in the past few months, or years, but our whole lives, and even before that! The gut health of our mother (and even father) is passed through to us in the birth canal, and with more and more processes foods, medication and lifestyle changes, with each generation, our gut health is becoming more and more compromised. There is also the consideration of C sections and babies who are not breast fed, as they do not get the exposure to their mother’s gut flora or nutrients from breast milk that assist with gut health. Bottle fed babies have totally different gut flora, which exposes them to more allergies and intolerances. All allergies are born in gut!
If our gut flora is out of balance and our lining is compromised, the proteins we eat aren’t properly digested and leak from the gut into the blood. The body then attacks them. But the thing here is, that the body will start to find other similar proteins in our body and attack them, which leads to autoimmune diseases. So really, autoimmune diseases are digestive disorders.
So, how do we help our gut?
Whatever the issue, we need to start in gut. Whether it is MS, coeliac, diabetes, asthma, eczema, chronic fatigue or depression for no reason. If the body cannot assimilate nutrients and minerals, it will not be able to function and have energy.
- Food: Our diet is number 1 and the most powerful healer of a compromised gut! Add in more of the good, to crowd out the not so good foods. Think:
- Green leafy vegetables: Full of great nutrients and minerals and good microbes that help with gut health.
- Fibre: Our gut loves cold and cooked root vegetables like potato and sweet potato, due to the resistance starch which helps the good bacteria stick around.
- Fermented foods: These are probiotic foods that add good bacteria to the gut. Think sauerkraut, kombucha, sourdough. Find my kombucha recipe here.
- Healing foods: Gelatin, elastin and collagen help repair the gut lining, which can be found in meat stock and bone broths. However, I recommend and prefer, a wholefood plant based diet, in this case take 100mg of Quercetin twice daily (I purchased mine in tablet form and took ½ tablet each morning) and 100mg of Glutamine (about 1/8 of a teaspoon), twice daily for 12 weeks.*
- Dark chocolate: Yes! You heard right. Dark chocolate ferments in the gut, providing great anti-inflammatory properties – as long as you stick to the 85% or darker.
- Removes foods hard to digest: gluten, animal products like dairy, sugar, processed foods and caffeine.
- Sleep: Remember that the gut needs time to detox and rest? This is when the gut is doing just that. When we do not get enough sleep, our gut has not had enough time to rest. We also make different food choices and go for the caffeine, sugar and processed foods to give us more energy, when we are feeling tired. These foods then impact our gut health.
- Breathe: Deep diagrammatic breathing, takes us from that fight or flight state, to rest and digest. Take 5 deep breaths prior to each meal to get you into a state where your body is ready to digest, absorb and assimilate what you are eating.
- Slow down: Schedule breaks in your day to just rest and be present. I set an alarm on my phone to make sure I do this. And most importantly, take time to chew your food (20-30 times per mouthful), which enables the saliva to breakdown the food, creating less work for the gut.
How is your gut health? What health conditions are you experiencing? What are you doing to heal your gut? I would love to hear from you. Or maybe you are still a bit confused? Contact me for a free 30 minute consultation on getting your good gut bacteria buzzing
*Consult your health practitioner before commencing any supplements.