Hippocrates once said that “all disease begins in the gut”
This quote rings as true today as it did 2,000 years ago. Research is still discovering the many roles that the microbiome of the gut plays in our health, which consists of billions of microorganisms and 1,000 different species of bacteria. We understand that it plays a role in digestion, the manufacturing of vitamins, detoxification and protection from disease. Since about 70% of our immune cells lie in the intestinal lining, the microbiome influences our immune response. Another fun fact… the gut contains more neurotransmitters than the brain.
When our microbiome is balanced, we have a wonderful ally that keeps our body healthy, promoting good digestion, healthy immune response, clear thinking, balanced mood, and glowing overall health. When our microbiome goes out of balance, however, we may experience digestive disturbances, mood disorders, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as metabolic disruptions which present as autoimmune disorders, obesity, and allergies, to name a few.
Our microbiome is constantly changing, depending on the foods that we eat and the lifestyles that we lead. Think of your gut bacteria as sitting down at the table with you, eating the foods that you eat. Feeding them processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and unhealthy fats will increase the amount of yeast and disease promoting bacteria. Other factors such as stress, environmental toxins, infections, and antibiotic use will also knock this delicate system off balance. Fortunately, we have the power to control the environment of our unique microbiome through a whole foods diet, stress-reducing techniques, and supplements. This is one of the first places I start when working with clients with any health condition. Typical complaints such as IBS and bloating, or inability to lose weight I see as inflammation going on in the gut. Often times an elimination diet is helpful, removing inflammatory causing foods such as gluten, sugar, and dairy. This along with a diet high in lean protein, vegetables and healthy fats has remarkable results. Years of digestive disturbances have suddenly dissipated. The bloating has gone away. The weight starts to shed. Energy soars. Once the body is given the tools it needs to heal, it’s amazing how good it can feel.
Here are a few helpful hints you can get started on at home to help maintain and restore a healthy gut:
Probiotics: Whether in supplement form or in fermented foods, probiotics promote the proliferation of beneficial bacteria and keep the harmful ones at bay. Kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, and yogurt are some good examples. Probiotic supplements are best taken away from meals, and be sure to buy refrigerated ones!
Prebiotic foods: Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, onions, garlic, and radicchio are just a few examples of vegetables that contain fiber called inulin and oligofructose which when broken down, feed the growth and proliferation of beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics work synergistically with probiotics.
Gut healing supplements like L-glutamine, Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) and Omega 3’s help reduce inflammation and rebuild damaged tissues.
**Before starting a supplement routine, I recommend asking a health professional.**