“Gut health is the key to overall health.”
~ Kris Carr
Go With Your Gut
Your gut is the host to an entire microbiome of bacteria — an estimated 100 trillion of them! Keeping those bacteria happy, healthy, and in balance is a big part of a wellness lifestyle. As you can imagine, what you eat plays a very important role.
Your gut plays a huge role in your health, affecting not just your digestion but your mood, energy, aches and pains, and even your brain function.
You’ve heard these sayings before, for good reason:
“Listen to your gut.”
“Butterflies in your stomach.”
For centuries, we’ve known that our gut and our well-being are connected. Right now, science is uncovering just HOW linked they really are.
First: your gut (aka digestive system) and the amazing trillions of microorganisms that live inside it — breaks down everything you eat.
This gives your body:
- The fuel it needs to function.
- The components of all the numerous hormones, enzymes and compounds that power your body’s processes.
- The building blocks it needs to repair and recover.
Second: Your gut is a MAJOR part of your immune system. It serves as your body’s reception area, ushering in the good guys (all the nutrients and micronutrients in your foods) — and working hard to keep out intruders (pathogens, bacteria, and more). It does both of these jobs thanks to a permeable lining called “gut associated lymphoid tissue” or GALT. When your gut microbes are in balance and your GALT is working… well, your gut will recognize a bad guy and attack it.
BUT… when your gut microbes
are out of balance, those bad
guys can start to push their
way through the reception
area, into the “inner sanctum”
of your body — invading and
This can cause all sorts of problems, from digestive upset to chronic inflammation and immune system issues.
If your gut has ever been out of balance, you know how uncomfortable this can be! Over time, having an out-of-whack gut can raise real havoc with your energy, mood, and overall health.
A healthy gut starts with a healthy lifestyle — getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and exercising.
In addition, one of the most important factors involves what you FEED your gut!
It begins with cleaning out the stuff that isn’t serving you: mainly high-sugar, low-fiber, and processed foods. And then it’s about feeding your microbiome with more of the GOOD stuff. Try this recipe for my Gut-Healing Green Smoothie.
Eat prebiotic foods:
- Chicory root
- Dandelion Greens
- Garlic, leek and onions
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Legumes (beans and peas)
Eat fermented foods:
- Pickles (picked with salt & water, not vinegar)
Probiotics are the “good” microorganisms — such as bacteria and yeasts — that live in your intestines.
They help digest foods, destroy disease-causing microorganisms, and create vitamins.
Probiotics naturally occur in your gut, but you also can get them from fermented foods and some supplements.
Research is still ongoing into exactly which strains of probiotics are the best, since they all do different jobs inside your body. I recommend always asking for a product specifically created for IBS, weather you’ve been formally diagnosed or not.
Identify food sensitivity:
Most people presenting with an irritable bowel feel strongly their symptoms are related to foods. Unlike with a food allergy, a sensitivity can be very difficult to pin point.
You can start to feel very frustrated trying to figure out what causes your bloating one day and seems to be totally fine the next. This process in itself causes a tremendous amount of stress, and leads to further distress.
There is no clear way to identify a specific food sensitivity, except through serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) tigers to various antigens. Studies have shown diets based on IgG results have decreased IBS symptoms in study patients.
The most common foods causing distress? Wheat, milk and yeast. Try nixing these foods for the next 3 months and see how you feel. Alternatively you can find a skilled bio-feedback practitioner.
Pure peppermint oil as a first line therapy:
This under appreciated treatment has anti spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties and serotonin 5-Ht3 receptor can slow the motility and decrease the hypersensitive go the gut.
It might seem strange to think that a good nights sleep can help your tummy trouble, but research in sleep is suggesting that its more important than we realized. Sleeping well plays a huge role in the way your body manages stress.
Exercise is thought to ease the symptoms of IBS like symptoms by helping to manage stress, improve bowel tone and function.
Low to moderate intensity has best results with gastro intestinal distress. Too hard of a workout can trigger stress hormones. There isn’t a ton of clinical research on how rigorous activity impacts IBS, but it is generally thought to potentially aggravate symptoms.
Management of stress:
Most disease can be related back to the mismanagement of stressors. Central nerves in the gut wall are perhaps stimulated by psychological stressors. A recent meta-analysis reported significant benefit from relaxation therapy. Getting familiar with mindfulness meditations, cognitive behaviour therapy.