Do You Have a Healthy Gut?
In the last few years, our world has become increasingly aware of gut health—or rather, the lack thereof. Just walk into any grocery store and you’ll notice the abundance of kombucha, kimchi, kefir, kraut and probiotics hitting the shelves. But none of these products will do a thing for you if your lifestyle does not support a healthy gut. Even scarier, poor gut health can result in intestinal permeability—aka leaky gut—that negatively affects mental health, physical health, immunity, even joint pain and more. You can be asymptomatic with this condition.
Table of Contents
- Why are intestines invaluable?
- Why do you want a healthy gut?
- Why do you need a healthy gut?
- Leaky Gut Checklist
- The Dilemmas
- How to fix it
The gut is now being referred to as the “second brain.” Have you ever used or heard the sayings “gut instinct or gut feeling”? There is a scientific reason to back up this mind-gut connection. This is the enteric nervous system at work. Why does one organ need its own nervous system, you ask? Not only can the brain communicate with the gut—which is why stress directly affects peristalsis—but the gut can also communicate with the brain! As just one example, the microbiota in your gut influence several hormones, such as serotonin, which regulates happiness. In other words, if we don’t take care of our intestines, the rest of our body will take a serious hit.
If we don’t take care of our intestines, the rest of our body will take a serious hit.
Improving your gut health will not only improve GI function, but also your energy levels, immune strength, mental health, hormonal balance, weight, clear skin and so much more! Food is medicine and it has been this way since the beginning of humanity—which means the largest immune organ that digests this food is important (the intestines!). If you are experiencing any kind of illness, the first place you should look is your gut and how you can help it optimally perform its very important jobs.
Would you believe me if I said your intestines are more like a net than a wall? They are permeable, meant to allow the good nutrients to pass through and the bad toxins, microbes and undigested particles to remain in the gut and pass through as waste. But when we feed our intestines the wrong food and treat them with stress and inactivity, they can’t function properly. Those toxins, microbes and particles escape the gut and sneak into the bloodstream, causing inflammation in the body that leads to a vicious cycle of events. Poor gut health can even affect your brain!
- Sometimes gut problems come down to the chicken or the egg. Chronic illness and then leaky gut? Or leaky gut and then chronic illness? Ongoing research points to the latter, but many physicians will still adamantly ignore this.
- GI problems are vast. Most illnesses—colds, flus, stress, parasites, food allergies, diseases, leaky gut—all create similar GI problems. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact problem.
- Many physicians don’t try to find the root of the problem. They often look at the intestines as a singular entity, when in fact the intestines reflect our overall health in so many different ways. So many people are on medicines that treat the symptoms, yet they are still sick. That is why many of these people are turning to alternative, evidence-based medicine for help.
- Many people are confused as to why we need to take probiotics and steer clear of gluten when our ancestors “way back when” supposedly never had these problems. The answer is not simple, but to be as straightforward as possible I will summarize that the food we ate then is the not the same food we eat now, even if it goes by the same name. This especially goes for wheat. In today’s world, hardly any of our food is untainted by human interference.
The food we ate then is the not the same food we eat now, even if it goes by the same name.
Amidst all the murk surrounding the ongoing research and differing opinions about gut health, one fact is crystal clear: you can fix it. Healing leaky gut and its mass of interlinked problems starts by accepting your body is whole—it’s connected for a reason—and should be treated as such. Start small, by incorporating more fermented foods into your diet, like kombucha. Balance your body with probiotics and gut-healing bone broth. And always consult with your doctor on ways to manage your symptoms and get back to feeling like your healthiest self. While our checklist below is by no means conclusive, if you checked any of the symptoms on the Leaky Gut Checklist, this should give you a sense of how to get started on your journey toward improved health!
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