Let’s dig into why taking care of your gut is one of the most important things you can do…
What in the world is 'our gut' you ask?
The digestive system (or gut) includes all the organs related to taking in food, breaking it down, making it useful to the body & finally getting rid of what is left over.
:: These are the ::
large & small intestine
and last, but not least... the anus.
Digestion is important for breaking down food into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth and cellular repair. Food and drinks must be changed into smaller molecules (nutrients) before the blood absorbs them and carries them to cells throughout the body. This breakdown results in carbohydrates, protein, fats and vitamins. Without our digestive system to extract energy and nutrients from our food, we simply could not survive!
Are you with me so far?
Great… because we are about to get real fancy & talk about our gut’s ‘microbiome’, which simply refers to the collection of microorganisms that live in our gut.
It is shocking to realize that we have more bacteria in our gut than we have cells in our bodies. This gut flora promotes natural gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism & comprises over 60% of our immune system. All gut flora are susceptible to sudden changes in their environment & will die off in droves when conditions aren’t right. Illness, stress & antibiotic use affect the balance of microorganisms.
These flora get their food by breaking down what we eat, therefore diet is the most important factor when it comes to your microbiome health. Bad gut flora is common because of our modern lifestyle. This leads to “leaky gut”, which means the gut barrier is impaired, which then leads to inflammation + chronic/autoimmune disease.
Bad gut flora can be sneaky, it often shows itself not in digestive trouble, but in other problems such a cardiovascular issues, extreme feelings of sadness, brain fog, skin disorders, metabolic issues, weight issues, blood sugar issues, and autoimmune disorders.
Our digestive system interacts with all other body systems. This includes the nervous, endocrine & immune systems. In fact, over 75% of our immune system is located in our gut. Also, our digestive system is the second largest part of our neurological system, so it’s no surprise that the gut is considered the “second brain.”
Digestion actually begins in our brains. When you eat, your brain decides how you will digest your food - it will respond with stress or ease, depending on the health of your body & state of your mind.
We also have digestive juices which contain enzymes that speed up chemical reactions in the body & break down food into nutrients. There are also cells in the lining of the stomach & small intestine that produce & release hormones, which regulate our appetite. Nerves also control our digestive system & connect our organs to the brain & spinal cord. These hormones also control muscle activity. So crazy how the gut is connected to everything, right?!
Furthermore, did you know that each individual gut flora has more cells per surface area than the entire body? It also has a better cellular memory than your brain does! This means each time you expose it to processed foods, fruits & veggies covered in pesticides, abundant wheat, gluten, high glycemic foods, acidic meats (non-lean meats) & much more, you are training the cellular memory to remain unhealthy.
But here’s the real kicker… the gut talks to the brain. When growing in-utero, the gut + brain begin to develop at the same time. Not only that, 70% of our serotonin (feel-good hormones) is produced in the gut. That's why you feel good when you are eating.
Friends, our gut microbiome has been clinically proven to influence our mood and our anxiety levels. These microorganisms have even been linked to chronic mental health issues, such as depression & bipolar disorder.
Bottom line? Healthy gut = healthy mind.
So glad you asked!
First & foremost, we need to increase our awareness of what we are putting in our mouths. Food quality in American has taken a major downhill turn over the past 40 years (thanks to food processing, additives & genetic modification), so we have to do what we can to optimize our nutrient absorption.
When our guts are healthy, they are able to absorb more nutrients. Stress, toxins, pesticides, food processing & overeating are some common stressors to our vital gastrointestinal tract. These factors contribute to all sorts of things like cramping, gas, nausea & bloating.
In general & as a whole, the most important thing that you can do for your gut health is to eliminate toxins from your food. The top four toxins to eliminate are cereal grains, industrial seed oils, sugar, & processed soy. Our risk of developing modern diseases increases greatly when we consume toxins on a regular basis.
On the contrary, there are some foods and supplements that we can add to our diets that will help our gut health: eating plenty of fermentable fibers, eating fermented foods, high quality probiotics & managing our stress levels.
I have made a few key changes & additions to my supplement routine that I feel has made an incremental impact.
Adding a high quality, comprehensive probiotic :: Life 9 from Young Living
Adding a purely plant-based pre-biotic :: Master Formula from Young Living
Occasionally cleansing+ detoxifying my gut :: Digest & Cleanse from Young Living
Substituting one meal per day with a comprehensive & balanced shake :: Balance Complete from Young Living