A “gut feeling” can range from butterflies in your stomach before a big presentation to full-on anxiety-induced nausea at the thought of losing something precious to you. The gut mirrors your moods and thought patterns. You’d never ignore a gut feeling, and you shouldn’t ignore your gut health either.
You gut health is intimately tied to your overall health.
Every system in your body is connected to the gut. Our gut is home to 100 trillion microorganisms that are responsible for processing and assimilating all the food we eat. These microorganisms, or gut flora, promote normal gastrointestinal function, provide protection from infection, regulate metabolism, and comprise 75% of our immune system.
When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea.
Because 60-80% of our immune system is located in our gut, gut imbalances lead to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems. Unhealthy levels of gut flora have also been linked to diseases as severe as autism in children born to mothers with low levels of gut flora.
Unhealthy gut flora comes from a wide range of issues related to our modern diets. Antibiotics, diets high in refined carbs, sugar and processed foods, and chronic stress are all responsible for unhealthy gut flora.
Fortunately, you can take your health into your own hands and take steps to heal your gut flora today. These simple fixes will heal you, instantly, from the inside out.
A large part of our modern diet comprises food that causes inflammation in our digestive tract. Inflammatory foods come from food groups you might not expect. Cereal grains, such as refined flour, omega-6 industrial seed oils such as corn or safflower oil, sugar especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, and processed soy all lead to inflammation. Dairy also raises the level of the hormone cortisol which can be damaging to your gut health.
After eating a diet that destroys gut flora, it’s important to rebuild healthy amounts of the good germs in your body. Probiotics and prebiotics work together to increase the levels of good bacteria in your body. Since stress, diet and some medications wipe out the good bacteria, it’s important to refuel the body with probiotics and prebiotics.
Although probiotics and prebiotics are different, they work together to increase overall levels of good bacteria. Probiotics directly add acidophilus, lactobacillus, and other naturally occurring bacteria back into your digestive tract. You can find probiotics in foods such as yogurt and kombucha. Prebiotics, on the other hand, work as a rich fertilizer for probiotics to grow inside you. Prebiotics come from vegetables such as asparagus and leeks. You can find probiotics and prebiotics in pill form to give an even bigger boost to your system.
You may have seen kefir in the yogurt section of Trader Joe’s or eaten kimchi at Korean barbecue, but did you know that these fermented foods are extremely beneficial to your gut health? They carry naturally occurring probiotics.
Research is still emerging on the benefits of fermented foods, but the early results are very promising. Fermented foods such as yogurt, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, and kombucha react in your body like a high-quality, multi-species probiotic. It’s an added bonus to your health if you follow recipes to make your own fermented foods at home. This way you can ensure the ingredients are whole and the fermentation process is up to your standards.
Even if you avoid processed foods and load up on the sauerkraut, chronic stress can still be eating away at your digestive tract. Most people these days experience high levels of the stress hormone cortisol due to their busy home and work lives. The gut is extremely vulnerable to even low levels of stress in our body. Chronic stress may lead to the development of gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.
You can de-stress naturally by meditating or doing restorative types of yoga. Self-massage rituals and aromatherapy are also great, inexpensive ways to lower the stress hormones in your body. It’s not frivolous relaxation; it’s essential to your gut health.
By starting these four health care regimens today, you’ll be working to restore your gut health. You’ll be able to digest and eliminate food more easily. It’s important not to ignore your gut health because it’s central to your overall health and wellbeing. Take this information into your own hands, and start a regimen of building a healthy gut as soon as you can. Your body will thank you for it.