GUT HEALTH - Is the state of your gut affecting every aspect of your health?
Over the last 10 years I've spent my career learning about and teaching my clients how to live their best life through an integrative approach to health and wellness. As a certified fitness professional, weight loss specialist, and integrative nutrition health coach, I've learned and taught a lot of functional strategies to help improve my own well-being and that of others.
What I've come to understand through my own journey and in working with my clients is that our gut health can make or break us!
I'd like to share a few facts about gut health with you in hopes that you see how important making educated decisions about what you put into and on your body can be.
Did you know that bacteria out number our body’s cells 10:1? That's quite an impressive number being we are literally made up of trillions of cells (depending on the metrics used to calculate human body cells they can range anywhere from 15-trillion, by volume, to 70-trillion, by weight). Bacteria reside mostly in our gut, but they also reside on every external surface of our skin. Gut bacteria can weigh up to 5 pounds and is made up of 1000's of different types of microorganisms and YES these little buggers can affect every aspect of our health, from the ability to breakdown and digest our food, to the appearance of our skin, to the way our brain perceives the world.
Now don't get me wrong, not all bacteria in and on us are bad! In fact, much of our bacteria are good (they are known as probiotics) and promote our body's health by manufacturing vitamin K, and B vitamins, they support fiber conversion to SCFA (small-chain fatty acid) that feed the gut wall, they stimulate the immune system, they reduce leaky gut, and reduce food sensitivities.
The problems with the bacteria come to light when we encounter dysbiosis, a state in which there is a disproportionate number of “bad” bugs in the gut compared to the “good” bugs. This can cause IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) like symptoms, malabsorption and poor digestion, but also can affect other systems in the body. Promising research is also being done showing a correlation between dysbiosis and the following conditions:Type 2 diabetes, Metabolic syndrome, Heart disease, Colo-rectal cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Depression.
Symptoms of an unhealthy gut include gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhea, seasonal allergies, sinusitis, recurrent yeast infections, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, food intolerance's, inflammation, susceptible to colds and flues, and malabsorption. Are you suffering from any of these symptoms? If so, your gut health may be the reason.
A generalized action plan to support gut health includes, introducing good bacteria into the gut by eating naturally fermented foods like yogurt with live cultures such as Nancy’s, raw cheese, (unpasteurized) buttermilk- Nancy’s, coconut yogurt- Coco Yo by Tula’s, apple cider vinegar, kefir, tempeh, naturally fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, cottage cheese, and probiotic supplements.
Eat foods that feed the good bacteria (called prebiotics) they include all plants, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Avoid foods that promote bad bacteria and kill good bacteria including processed foods, excess sugar, and antibiotics (use only when truly necessary, hopefully we can improve gut health before our immune system is compromised and antibiotics are necessary).
Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or for more information.
Information adopted from Theresa Helfer, RD and owner of Spark Nutrition, Educational materials from The Institute of Intragrated Nutrition, and the Book You Can Fix Your Brain, by Dr. Tom O'Brien