Unless you have digestive issues, you generally don't spend a lot of time thinking about what's going on within your stomach.
However, research has made significant progress in understanding the importance of gut health to our overall health during the previous two decades.
Numerous studies have found that an unhealthy gut has a negative impact on our immune system, mood, and mental health. Inflammation in the gut increases our chances of getting autoimmune illness, endocrine abnormalities, skin issues, and, yes, even cancer. (source link)
This means that recognizing symptoms and learning how to enhance gut health organically is critical.
It is hard to prevent regular exposure to harmful compounds in our modern society.
With all the crunchy moms preaching about EMR and the importance of nature, it's easy to become cynical and alienated. However, there is far too much evidence to suggest that our modern lifestyles are disrupting the delicate equilibrium of our gut flora.
Pollutants are present in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and even fall from the sky.
You definitely have at least one friend who is gluten intolerant, and you feel sorry for her as you push a delicious slice of pizza down your neck.
I used to feel the same way about my own sister.
That is, until I began to appear six months pregnant before going to bed every night.
There isn't a single person who lives in a metropolis who should disregard the necessity of optimizing their gut microbiome, PERIOD.
In this post, we will look at the importance of gut health, how to detect if you have bad bacteria colonizing your gut, how to improve your microbiome, and what a good gut diet looks like.
We'll also dispel some popular myths regarding probiotics.
Let's get started.
Gut Health Is Very Important
Our vitality is dependent on a healthy gut. This may appear simple given that our stomach is the gatekeeper for the food and water that sustains our organic existence.
However, a healthy stomach is more than just digestion.
Whereas we formerly assumed disease was caused by genetic expression, we now know it is entirely caused by the small bugs that dwell inside of us.
Many health disorders, particularly those affecting the brain and mental health, have their origins in gastrointestinal health.
We now know that the majority of serotonin production (an crucial neurotransmitter that governs our mood, sleep cycles, libido, appetite, and many other things) takes place in the gut, thanks to our complex intestinal flora. (source link)
Over 10,000 different types of bacteria live in the human stomach. In fact, scientists are constantly learning about the bacteria that make up a healthy gut.
Every few years, hundreds more are added to the ledger, and the list isn't restricted to bacteria. We are also home to viruses and fungus, albeit we presently have a limited grasp of how these organisms affect us. (source)
A hundred trillion bacteria exceed our own cells in an adult human's body by a factor of ten.
They have over 4 million different functional bacterial genes, with over 95 percent of them localized in the large intestine. (source link) I emphasized the term operating so you wouldn't overlook it. Yes, genes from microorganisms have an impact on the day-to-day biologic intricacies that occur within us.
According to the Human Genome Project, bacterial genes influence our daily body functioning more than human genes! (source)
We are still in the early stages of understanding the human microbiome in relation to health. One thing we can all agree on is that the bacteria that live in our gut have the power to “well oil” the machine. We become extremely ill if the wrong species overpopulates.
When we encounter typical foods like peanuts, the influence of our microbiome can alter our immune response, turning a routine day into a total calamity.
They are capable of synthesizing substances that influence our sleep patterns and stress response.
They operate as an extra intestinal barrier against harmful germs and aid digestion by transforming foods that would otherwise be indigestible into accessible energy sources. (source link)
Our microbiome is completely responsible for our health. This is fantastic news for us since it gives us renewed hope!
We no longer have to be afraid of things over which we have no control, such as our ancestors' genes. We can impact our health by keeping a diverse microbiome in our stomach.
The next step is to figure out what the components of a healthy microbiome are. But, before we can accomplish that, we need to understand the warning signals that we are being colonized by certain unwelcome bacteria.
Symptoms of Bacterial Overgrowth in the Gut
Poor food, stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic abuse, and a variety of environmental factors can all disrupt our gut equilibrium (we will get more into the specifics of this later).
When an outside source has a negative impact on our system, it can cause one species to take control. The condition is known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
SIBO symptoms can range from mild to severe. The sort of bacteria present and how their metabolites (waste products) affect your own tissue will determine your symptoms.
SIBO is usually caused by an overgrowth of a gram-negative coliform, such as E. coli, Enterococcus spp., Klebsiella pneumonia, or Proteus mirabilis species. (source link)
While the majority of the time, the symptoms associated with this overgrowth are mild (bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea), it is possible to experience more concerning symptoms such as weight loss (which I wouldn't mind), anemia, and malnourishment, which can lead to a serious vitamin deficiency. (source link)
The frequency and intensity of your symptoms can reflect both the degree of bacterial overgrowth and the depth of inflammation caused by them. (source link)
Here are some general signs that may indicate SIBO:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal firmness
- Fatigue not relieved by sleep
- Generlized weakness
- Unexplained weight-loss or gain
Here's what's causing gut inflammation.
Gut inflammation is what all of this rhetoric about harmful bacteria or a lack of microbiome variety boils down to.
Gut inflammation, also known as the endotoxic response, is defined as the body's quick physiological response to a lipopolysaccharide material (fancy word for a fat molecule) present in the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria.
Normally, our bodies would protect themselves by excreting unfriendly bacteria, undigested food particles, and toxins as feces. When there is inflammation, the lining of our intestines is destroyed. As a result, dangerous substances are able to pass past our intestines and into our bloodstream.
Inflammation does not just affect people who have been diagnosed with a severe digestive disease such as Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis.
It could be occurring to you and you aren't even aware of it. In one study of 80 healthy college students of normal weight, it was discovered that more than half of them had a large inflammatory reaction to meals. (source)
When there is unproductive inflammation, it has a negative impact on human health.
Once the source of the inflammation has been removed, the normal process of inflammation has a predetermined goal. Following that, your body will begin to mend. (source)
In a case like leaky gut, the source of the inflammation continues to permeate the bloodstream, causing the inflammation to remain indefinitely.
Long-term inflammation raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and obesity. (source)
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, inflammation is generally bad news!
You may be thinking, “Oh my goodness, do I need to get tested for SIBO and inflammation?”
The answer is no, it does not. In fact, most of the SIBO tests available are unreliable.
If you want to know if your body is in an active inflammatory process, you can see a functional medical doctor or ask your family doctor to conduct C-reactive protein (CRP), Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-a), Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1), Interleukin-6 (IL-6), and Interleukin-8 (IL-8) tests (IL-8).
Keep in mind that this test will be expensive.
If you're really struggling and want to learn more about your own unique microbiome and how it affects you, you should look into the firm Viome. They provide a home-based test that you can mail in to receive personalized instructions on how to
They also provide dietary guidance based on your unique requirements.
The following section of this essay will discuss how to eat for a healthy gut and how to naturally improve gut health.
It makes no difference whether your inflammatory markers are elevated or not. We should all protect our intestines in the same way.
These suggestions apply whether your gut is healthy or unwell. And the emphasis of this counsel will be on simplicity since, let's face it, we don't need life to be any more complicated than it is!
A Simple Diet for a Healthy Gut
I've never been a fan of fad diets when it comes to nutrition. I realize that right now, everyone is obsessed with fasting, the Keto diet, and Whole 30.
This strategy does not include any recommendations for fad diets.
When it comes to eating for a healthy gut, we need to remember what our forefathers did and a period when giant food corporations sprayed our crops with poisons that none of us can pronounce (hint: glycophosate).
We used to be hunters. We didn't necessarily kill animals for food every day. Meat induces stomach irritation and should not be consumed on a regular basis.
We were gatherers, eating a variety of plants that were available to us depending on the season.
In January, we didn't eat tomatoes.
So, how does this apply to us in modern-day cities?
In a few words, I can describe a healthy gut diet. Local, seasonal, unprocessed, and, to keep up with current language, organic.
Let's take a look at each of these separately.
Food supplied locally from small farms is better for your health. That may appear to be a bold statement, but here are a few reasons why it is correct.
Local delicacies don't have to travel far to get to your plate. This indicates that it is left to ripen on the vine.
Produce that has been left to ripen on the vine is far more nutritionally diverse and superior to food that has been plucked green. (source link)
The tastiest local food is grown in your own backyard garden. Not only will you have complete control over the growing and harvesting processes, but digging in the earth will enhance your microbiome.
You don't have to clear up your entire backyard and start farming! Even something as easy as having potted fresh herbs and greens will make a significant difference on your microbiota.
Also, don't rinse anything before eating!
What exactly does it mean to eat seasonally? It will depend on where you live, but consider what is growing outside in your present climate.
If it's summer, you'll be able to eat a wide variety of ripe vegetables at its optimal nutritional worth.
If it's the middle of autumn, consider eating squash, cabbage, and dark greens.
Winter is a perfect season to eat root veggies.
You allow your microbiota to vary seasonally by eating seasonally. This causes a change in the genetic expression within your body.
Obviously, eating seasonally does not imply starvation during the winter.
However, you can be creative in how you consume food that has been preserved in various ways.
In the winter, for example, you can eat more frozen fruit. Frozen fruit was allowed to ripen on the vine before being frozen. In the winter, it will be more nutrient packed than fresh strawberries.
Eating for a healthy gut involves spending extra time in the kitchen. Life in our culture moves at such a breakneck pace. We don't always make time to do simple things like cook our own meals.
This is a tragedy because cooking your own meals can bring you peace of mind.
I suppose that's why it's called soul food!
If you don't have time to cook every day, consider meal planning. Meal planning is as simple as setting aside one day to prepare out a week's worth of meals. Then you cook a large amount of food at once and eat it throughout the week.
Another way to eat less processed food is to read the ingredients on the label. You can find a range of prepared snacks with few additives that nevertheless support your aims to repair your stomach naturally.
All of the preceding nutritional advice is correct. But, when it comes to eating to repair your stomach, one of the most important things to remember is to avoid industrial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
These chemicals cannot be removed from food. They are the primary method we are exposed to poisons since they integrate on a cellular level of the meal. (source)
Pesticides can have both short-term and long-term consequences, and they will undoubtedly disturb your microbiota (source)
One of the most common concerns when purchasing organic food is the cost. It's difficult to justify paying $6 for a basket of organic blueberries when you can obtain them for half the price by buying ordinary.
Even if it hurts to spend more money on food, you will end up saving more money in medical bills in the long term by safeguarding your health.
Another advantage of eating organic is the high quality of the meat. Animals grown conventionally are given massive amounts of antibiotics and are handled inhumanely.
It is beyond the scope of this post to go into detail about how the meat business mistreats animals (although It is absolutely devastating).
If, on the other hand, you eat an animal that spent its entire short life in terror and suffering, the stress hormones coursing through their body would almost likely negatively impact your microbiome.
When it comes to meat, less is more.
Lean meat, free-range eggs, and wild-caught fish are excellent sources of protein to consume five days a week. Red meat should be consumed in moderation and should always be pasture grown.
Gut Health and Probiotics
Nowadays, the probiotic market is massive. It's not unexpected, given the amount of study being conducted on the relationship between the gut and natural health.
Everyone is trying to cash in on this new fad.
When I first started taking a probiotic pill, I must admit that I was absolutely misinformed.
I began supplementing after receiving IV antibiotics in the hospital during my son's delivery.
I then started getting frequent yeast infections and had a lot of abdominal bloating.
Many of the probiotics I tried did not appear to be effective. Later, I discovered that the way most probiotics are manufactured renders them utterly ineffective once they reach the human intestine.
Encapsulating probiotics entails culturing many strains of bacteria in separate mediums. They are then spun to extract their liquid nourishment (also known as prebiotic), freeze dried, crushed, and mixed with the other cultures in the capsule.
You took bacteria that aren't used to live together away from their food supply and dumped them into a hostile habitat like the stomach.
The truth is that none of them make it to our lower intestines.
One company I recently discovered grows 11 distinct species in harmony together using non-GMO, organic sugar molasses.
This bottle's pH is around 3.5. The pH of the human stomach ranges between 1.5 and 3.5.
This product is much more likely to survive your stomach and set up camp inside your intestines, where it can do some good.
Is it truly vital to take probiotics?
That's a fascinating question, and it's one I'm still thinking about.
What effect can dosing our gut with massive doses of a few species have on us? We're supposed to be a diverse ecosystem with thousands of species, right?
The truth is that we don't truly know. This is an exciting period, with new studies being released on a daily basis.
I've read personal accounts of people using liquid probiotics to heal conditions such as eczema, allergies, and ADD.
However, our forefathers have been fermenting food for ages, so the probiotic notion is not without merit.
I am far more thrilled about the idea of healing from enhancing anything in nature than I am about anything the pharmaceutical industry has to offer!
Natural Ways to Improve Gut Health
We've covered a lot so far, but I didn't want to leave you without giving you a few more simple ideas for taking care of your gut health on a regular basis.
A daily cup of bone broth provides several nutritional and therapeutic benefits. There's a reason it's dubbed “chicken soup for the soul”!
Another thing you may do is begin your day with a detox drink.
Of course, getting enough sleep and avoiding toxic stress are critical components of any effective healing process. There are numerous techniques for accomplishing this, including as creating a daily schedule, practicing meditation, and concentrating on managing your thoughts.
Limit your coffee and alcohol consumption if possible.
If you must consume alcohol, choose a glass of red wine over a beer. The flavonoids in red wine are beneficial to your health!
Consume coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil instead of other vegetable oils. The majority of vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. A small amount of omega-6 is beneficial, but too much might cause oxidative stress (aka inflammation!). (source link)
Get some type of exercise at least three times per week. When it comes to exercising, the more the merrier. This might be as simple as going for a brisk stroll.
Get outside and enjoy nature. Visit a beach, a state park, the mountains, or simply the forests near your home. Getting outside in nature aids in the diversification of your microbiome.
Put an end to the use of antibacterial hand sanitizers. Not only are these gels loaded with chemicals that are easily absorbed, but you are also harming your natural skin bacteria. When you're out in public, just soap and water will suffice.
Keep in mind that these small bugs are our FRIENDS!