Gut Health 101: The Foundation of A Strong Immune System
Gut Health Overview
Your Gut Health is Essential, Your Gut Health is Everything – In the currently Pandemic atmosphere, many are doing everything they can to remain safe by wearing masks, washing hands, and sheltering at home. However, very few people are taking the necessary steps to improve the effectiveness of their immune systems. A robust immune system is essential for staying healthy, healing chronic dis-eases, fighting infectious diseases and viruses, and living a fulfilling life with longevity. A significant element of a strong immune system is Gut Health, and this is the focus of our discussion in this article.
Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Life!
It is said that 70% of the immune system is in the gut and taking necessary steps to ensure it functions properly is essential to living a healthy life. It was the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, who once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” As such, the gut is more important than what many consider to be a tube within our bodies that process food and turn it into poop.
The processes which place in the gut impact our mental health, cardiac health, weight management, autoimmune disorders, cancers, other inflammatory diseases, and influence your mood. Gut health is essential for life. If you heal the gut, you heal your life! But to understand the connection between the gut and our overall health, we must understand what is known as the microbiome.
What is the Microbiome?
The microbiome cannot be understood without identifying the purpose of the microbiota. The microbiota is a collection – think billions and billions and billions – of microbes or bacteria and viruses that live inside the lining of the gut and on the human body. Each of us has been exposed to microbes from birth. Additionally, the genes of these microbes impact how our body functions. In fact, it is believed that the genes of these bacteria and viruses far exceed that of our own genes – think 100 to 1.
An excellent and fascinating fact is that because EVERY BODY is different, our microbiota makeup is also different and is a result of our diet, stress level, gender, age, and even where we live (our environment) to name a few. The microbiota influence how we digest the food we eat, how we age, our metabolic rate, and provides beneficial B Vitamins and Vitamin K. Since we are talking about gut health, it is essential to have a balanced intestinal microbiota.
Problems Caused by Poor Microbiome or Gut Health
The improper balance of the bacteria makeup of your gut can cause inflammation, resulting in digestive issues and other health problems. Some of these issues are:
- Fatigue – Mood and energy
- Brain Fog
- Insomnia – Sleep and metabolism
- Acne and other skin condition
- Hormone imbalance – male and female
- Thyroid Health – hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- Autoimmune disorders – a result dysregulated or overactive immune system
Some of the common dis-eases that may indicate that you have poor gut health are:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Muscle loss
- Poor memory
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, IBS)
What you should get from this is that poor gut health or microbiota will inevitably result in inflammation. But what causes poor and unhealthy gut?
What are the causes of poor and unhealthy gut?
Today, we are bombarded with many things that affect gut health, from chemicals to the drugs that many take daily. You are exposed to these toxins that wreak havoc on your health every day from your environment (your home, workspace, etc.), the personal care products that you use, and even your diet. The following are some of the things that cause your unhealthy gut:
- Glyphosate – the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, is found on of the foods we eat, causes cancer (there’s an ongoing lawsuit), and kill off the beneficial bacteria from the gut, resulting in what is known as a leaky gut.
- Excess sugar – feeds harmful bacterial in the gut and causes inflammation
- NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs negatively affect your gut lining over time
- Stress – results in the release of cortisol, puts the body in a state of fight or flight, and cause inflammation over time
- Consuming highly processed foods – loaded with excess sugar and cause inflammation
The good news is that there is hope, and the gut can be healed naturally with food and supplements. Here are some thoughts to consider for optimal gut health:
What foods and supplements support and heal an unhealthy gut?
There are many foods and supplements that can be used to heal, restore, and promote optimal gut health. The following are a select few:
- Organic, Grass-fed, and free-range bone broth – Bone broth is a rich source of amino acids, collagen, glutamine, glycine, and proline, which are all essential for healing the gut lining. If you have a leaky gut, this should be part of your eating plan (we try not to use the word diet…die-t).
- Dark green leafy vegetables and vibrant fruits – vegetables and fruits such as Kale, artichokes, leeks, asparagus, avocados, bananas, and apples. Some of these are great prebiotics and help heal the gut.
- Seeds – Seeds such as Chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts are not only rich in Omega-3-Fatty Acids, they are also anti-inflammatory, helping to heal the gut.
- Healthy Fats – fats such as avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, and olive oil are among the healthy fats that I use daily.
- Fermented Food – Consuming foods such as Kefir, yogurt without excess sugar, sauerkraut, and Kimchi contain good probiotics and help heal the gut. Apple Cider Vinegar is a good source of prebiotic which probiotics need.
- Anti-inflammatory and healing herbs – Herb such Turmeric, Ginger, and black pepper (anti-inflammatory), aloe vera (anti-inflammatory, vitamins, and minerals), Slippery Elm (soothes the gut lining), and chamomile (reduces stress, soothes nerves).
- Dietary Fiber – Fiber obtained from beans, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and even supplemental intake of Psyllium husks help support the gut and promote optimal gut health.
- Probiotics – Beneficial bacteria are useful in healing the gut. Essentially, you need a multi-strain product, which includes the likes of Bifidobacterium longum R0175, Bifidobacterium bifidum W23, and Lactobacillus acidophilus W37. I use probiotics that contain 10 – 25 strains and 70 to 100 billion CFUs (colony forming units)
- Amino acids – The amino acids in our gut modulates our immune system as well as our metabolism. Fatty acids such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate are produced in the gut as a result of the dietary fiber you consume. L-theanine, which is found in green tea, reduces stress and improves sleep.
- Glutathione – It is known as the master antioxidant of the body. It is an excellent detoxifier of the body and can be instrumental in supporting the repair of the gut.
- Vitamins and minerals – Our modern diet lack the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need because of current farming practices. Vitamins such as the B Vitamins and Vitamin C support our body by reducing oxidative damage. Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and selenium help support a healthy gut, reduce and repairing leaky gut, and reducing inflammation.
Your microbiome is continuously changing, and we have only scratched the surface of how essential your gut health is to maintaining a robust immune system. I hope the information presented will help you to take the necessary steps to heal and restore your optimal gut health. It will take a daily conscious effort on your part to heal your gut as it is not a one-time process.
Depending on the severity of the damage to your gut, it could take anywhere from 3 months to 3 years to heal. I encourage you to seek a medical professional to help identify the imbalance within your gut( a simple stool test is beneficial). Work with a Naturopathic or Functional medical doctor to take back your health.
However, if you simply need to replenish your microbiota, supplementing with probiotics will help strengthen your microbiome. Be careful to choose the right probiotics. Remember, the best probiotics will have multiple strains as well as a prebiotic (food for the probiotics). I personally take the FloraTrex from Global Healing. It contains 25 different strains and prebiotics. Regardless of how severe the damage to your gut, it can be healed. Start today! You can do it!
To Your Health!
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