You might dedicate your life to establishing a good health regime: you exercise regularly, eat right, take supplements in the prescribed manner, and try to get enough sleep. But all that hard work and supplementation could be sabotaged by poor gut health.
The digestive system is really the corner stone of your well being, because it is involved in so many processes. If your digestive system is in order, you feel great and can perform at the level you want. If your gut health is poor, you can end up with impaired immune and nervous systems, and it can also wreak havoc with your hormonal function throughout the body. This is because our gastrointestinal tract is loaded with neurons that release the same neurotransmitters found in the brain. This is why you have “gut feelings” and any upset to this equilibrium can throw your body and mood into chaos.
Why Gut Function Can Break Down
The digestive system is responsible for breaking down the foods you eat, extracting the nutrients needed, and then eliminating the waste. The problem is that poor food choices, viruses, parasites, caffeine, alcohol consumption, antibiotics, NSAIDs, and bad bacteria can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to increased permeability or “leaky gut.”
This “leaky gut” means that instead of foods being broken down, absorbed, and eliminated, partially digested foods can now cross through the damaged area of the intestinal lining and enter the blood stream directly. This leak can initiate an inflammatory response in the body and the release of stress hormones. One of these stress hormones is cortisol, which further taxes the body and starts to impair the body’s immune system. This can then lead to a host of issues that may not seem related to the impaired gastrointestinal tract, like allergies, skin conditions, impaired performance, and stubborn weight gain to name a few.
Steps You Can Take
With so many things attacking your digestive system it would seem a difficult task to try and restore its health. With planning and time, it is possible to restore your gastrointestinal tract to optimal health. Healing the gut lining will allow your body to build a strong immune system again and produce the right amount of neurotransmitters so that you will feel well. This can be done in stages.
Step 1: Remove bad foods from the diet - In this first step we remove the offending foods and toxins from your diet that could be acting as stressors on your system. This means caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, bad fats, and any other foods you think may be causing issues, like gluten and dairy. All of these all irritate the gut in some form and create an inflammatory response.
Step 2: Repair the intestinal lining - The next step is to begin to repair the gut and heal the damaged intestinal lining. You do this by consuming an unprocessed diet and giving your body time to rest by providing it with substances that are known to heal the gut, like L-glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, antioxidants (in the form of vitamins A, C, and E), quercitin, aloe vera, and turmeric.
Step 3: Restore the bacterial balance - This involves the restoration of your gut’s optimal bacterial flora population. This is done with the introduction of probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. A probiotic is a good bacteria and is ingested to help reinforce and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract and to help fight illness. In general a healthy lower intestinal tract should contain around 85% good bacteria. This helps to combat any overgrowth of bad bacteria. Unfortunately in most people these percentages are skewed and this allows for the gut health to drastically decline. The human gut is home to bad bacteria like salmonella and clostridium, which is fine as long as they are kept in order and don’t get out of control.
Step 4: Replenish your digestive enzymes and salts - This involves getting your bile salts, digestive enzymes, and hydrochloric acid levels to optimal levels to maintain and promote healthy digestion. This can be done by supplementing with digestive enzymes and organic salt to help make sure you have enough hydrochloric acid.
Be sure to consult your physician to determine the best course of action if you are experiencing gut health issues.