Sunday, November 19, 2017
How to Repair and Rebuild the Gut
Take a second to think about the how hard our body works to keep us alive. It digests our food, keeps our heart beating, helps remove toxins, fights off invaders, keeps us breathing—and that’s just to name a few jobs our body controls. Pretty amazing, right? When you think more about our digestive system, you can look at it quite simply as a long tube that extends from where we place our food to where we eliminate it. It has a job of utmost importance to our health and survival: to nourish and protect.
The health of your digestive system determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out. It is directly linked to the health of the entire body. Intestinal health is defined via the process of optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of the food we consume. This however relies on processes and factors within the body to all work together to allow this to take place.
It begins with the bugs that live in our guts. We are home to over 500 different species of microorganism that create their own ecosystem—I like to think of it as a factory—to allow for our food to be digested, to regulate hormones, excrete toxins and produce vital nutrients. You may be thinking "Bugs? The bad ones?" Yes, we have those too, but what’s key is that the factory stays in balance and all the bugs are doing their correct jobs in the correct location. Too many bad bugs such as parasite/yeast and not enough of the good bugs such as the lactobacillus and good yeast can drastically damage your health and can cause disease such as leaky gut, arthritis, eczema and diabetes. Keeping these in balance is key to health.
Secondly, the gut houses a major filter system, filtering through all the toxins we come in contact with. It does this with a very thin filter which, if abused through consumption of processed foods and toxins, can actually separate and release toxins into the bloodstream causing systemic inflammation and intolerances.
Thirdly, the gut is the only human organ that functions without the help of your brain, and it’s got 100 million cells. In fact, the gut sends signals to the brain via the Vagus nerve, and you actually send more information from the gut to the brain, than from the brain to the gut. In other words, your brain is translating gut signals as emotions. It contributes to those very important happy feelings and interference can cause anxiety and depression. So, when someone says trust your gut, it might be worth doing.
Lastly, the digestive system’s job is to break down all the food we eat separating it into what will feed our body and what is waste. The body can only break down whole food to use as fuel, and anything refined or processed is classified as waste. If this process becomes impaired we no longer create fuel for our body, which causes us to become tired and ill and for inflammation to skyrocket.
Now we know what needs to work to keep our digestive tract healthy. What do we do if we suffer from digestive issues or any health concern for that matter? I am here to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. The goal is to repair and rebuild.
How to repair the gut:
• Find the source - Nutrition response testing will help determine the root causes of any nutritional deficiencies your body may be suffering from and use whole food nutrition to help detox and rebuild.
• Prioritize relaxation - Finding ways to reduce your level of stress emotionally, physically and environmentally will reduce the inflammation on the body, allowing it to repair. You can use mediation, a favorite hobby or exercise.
• Reduce toxic exposure - Lower antibiotic use and other medications as these don't just destroy just the bad bugs but the whole factory, throwing the gut entirely out of balance.
• Alter your diet- Remove all highly-processed food, sugar, highly-refined carbohydrates and alcohol. This will take away a toxic load and allow the body to truly repair.
Now that we have found ways to reduce the stress and toxins in the body to create optimal digestive health there are many ways to rebuild and create an environment where the factory can start working again.
How to rebuild the gut:
• Fermented foods - Consuming ½ serving daily of fermented foods will help rebuild the good bacteria. Daily is key; similar to how you would take probiotics regularly to keep the good bugs happy, fermented foods should be consumed same way.
• The good starchy carbs - Sweet potato, plantains, and cassava are the best starchy carbs for our digestion. The good bugs love them and they won't spike your blood sugar.
Some favorites are sauerkraut (Hawthorne Valley), kimchi, kombucha, good quality kefir.
• Deep breathing - Digesting is a parasympathetic process, meaning we must be in a relaxed state for digestion to occur correctly. Taking 3 big deep breaths in and slowly releasing each time will help the body become relaxed. A prayer blessing your food can also help the body become more relaxed.
• Hydration - Staying hydrated is key to ensuring the nutrients are transported correctly throughout the body and that waste is eliminated.
Now you can look at your digestive system as your best friend. It’s easy to get caught up in how it sometimes isn’t working, causing us pain or discomfort, but understanding there is a way to help repair and rebuild this intricate friendship within will only help you see that the body truly wants to keep you happy and healthy on the outside too.