A properly functioning digestive system (gut) is critical to good health. In fact, 60 – 80% of our immune system is located in our gut. We also know that 85% of the serotonin-receptor sites are located in our gut, rather than in our brain. With serotonin being the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy, confident, strong and motivated, this explains why what you eat can have such a profound effect on how you feel.
Problems in our gut can be the root cause of many chronic health problems. Gastrointestinal (GI) tract imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and hashimotos thyroiditis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, etc.
So what’s the best way to heal your gut? Follow this 4-step functional medicine process.
Well, probably best to start by eliminating the bad stuff. The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract such as inflammatory foods, infections and gastric irritants like alcohol, caffeine or drugs. Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar can lead to food sensitivities. An Elimination Diet and IgG food sensitivity testing to determine if any foods are a problem for you are a very smart idea. Infections can be from parasites, yeast or bacteria. A comprehensive stool analysis is key to determining the levels of good bacteria as well as any infections that may be present.
Restoring beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. This may be accomplished by taking a probiotic supplement that contains bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species. It’s recommended to take anywhere from 25 -100 billion units a day. Also, taking a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria) supplement or consuming foods high in soluble fiber is important. Clean eating plays a key role here.
Nourish and Repair
Providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself is essential. One of the best supplements is L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining. Other key nutrients include zinc, omega-3 fish oils, vitamin A, C, E as well as herbs such as slippery elm and aloe vera.
No matter what your health issue is, these steps outlined above are sure to help you and your gut heal. Dramatic reversals of chronic and inflammatory illnesses have been seen in a very short period of time by utilizing this simple approach.
A FEW OTHER TIPS AND REMINDERS
Eat good quality, natural ingredients
This has never been more important as we are constantly bombarded with ready-made, grab-and-go convenience foods that are laden with sugar, sweeteners, and other condiments. These foods disrupt the delicate balance of the natural gut flora (healthy bacteria in intestines that prevent disease and aid optimal digestion). Choosing your foods wisely with a healthy mindset is essential to your health and wellness. I always say to choose ‘real, whole foods’ and you’ll be on the right track. Fermented foods play a key role as well and should ideally be consumed in small amounts on a daily basis. I.e. yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee, pickled vegetables and kombucha.
Choose seasonal foods
Eating seasonal foods and those that are indigenous to the country in which you live is vital for good health.
Don’t overload your digestive system
This is key to good absorption, as is chewing food properly. You need to break it down in your mouth, rather than gobblle down chunks of barely-chewed food, risking indigestion and discomfort, wind and bloating.
So here’s to a healthy microbiome!
Happy and Healthy Blessings,
The Roots Team
Source: Vicky Edgson (welldoing.org); Dr. Amy Myers (mindbodygreen.com)