How to build a healthy gut
"Please pass the silverware and a side of good bugs!"
The bugs I am speaking of today are actually the bacteria (microbiome) that reside in our gut. Yep, each and every one of us has our very own stash of these goodies lining our lower intestines and throughout our whole body. The question is.... is this bacteria working for us or against us? Well that depends if you have more good guys or bad guys..
Meet the crazy bug family.
Boy are they dysfunctional.
Scientists now recognize that close to 99% of all our genetic information does not come from our parents or family, it comes from our bugs,, also known as "microbiome” or gut flora. These guys are total superstars inside the body since they keep us in optimumal health, but when flora are disturbed or damaged, these benefits can turn around pretty quickly. Not just gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, (as if that wasn't enough) but some health professionals are saying it can actually spell the difference between life and death.
Think of your body as a vessel. It's geared for the growth and spread of bugs and microbes found in the gut and elsewhere. These bacteria produce B vitamins, vitamin K, enzymes, neurotransmitters (ie serotonin) important amino acids, fatty acids and more. So when there is a disruption of flora in the gut whether through diet, antibiotics, medications, alcohol, etc, it allows for the overgrowth of the opposite kind of microbes. These predispose us to a whole set of health problems and diseases, like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, bowel disorders, skin problems, emotional imbalance, and even cancer. Gut flora makes up a huge part of the immune system by helping us distinguish between harmless substances and toxins so it makes sense that when we have an imbalance, we get sick.
Here are a few things you may not know about the GI tract and why protecting it with good bacteria, or gut flora is so damn important!
*Aids in the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and iron
*Protects the immune system
*Contains a host of important B vitamins
*Helps the body break down amino acids (proteins)
Yep, some pretty important stuff, yet unfortunately, so many of us are lacking the balance between good and bad bacteria in the intestines, also known as dysbiosis. This condition is nothing to play around with because it sets the stage for autoimmune diseases like the one’s mentioned above along with crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and a host of others. Food sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and other gastrointestinal infections are also caused by dysbiosis. The real question is... what causes this condition to begin with?
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF DYSBIOSIS?
*Excessive antibiotics, steroids, or hormones
*Diets high in sugar and low in soluble fiber, gluten
*Food intolerance and other sensitivities and/or infections
WHAT CAN HELP?
Because of antibiotics I had as a kid, combined with a horrible diet in college, I myself have battled with dysbiosis, and have a protocol I follow consisting of the following:
*Probiotic supplements- Think of your gastrointestinal tract as its own immune system and nervous system. It’s true, and it therefore needs to be ready for any toxic invader that’s thinking about messing around with the gut. These friendly bacteria need to out-number the bad so there’s less intestinal discomfort, nutritional deficiencies, and even depression!
*Digestive enzymes- if food is not being broken down properly, there is no assimilation of nutrients. Taking a digestive enzyme like Zypan (HCL, hydrochloric acid) with our meals helps us to digest the proteins, carbs, and fats in the food and get the nutrients to the right places.
*Fermented foods are also an excellent addition to your daily diet. Kefir, kombucha, organic plain yogurt, miso, kimchi, and other foods that contain good bacteria.
*Bone broth (and the collagen it contains), is extremely supportive for the gut lining and helps prevent a condition called leaky gut (or intestinal permeability) where metabolic byproducts of food and gut microbes enter the bloodstream setting off an autoimmune response in the body. This drives chronic inflammation and paves the way for more drama to follow since the body mistakenly turns on its “attack” mode. Bone broth is shown to be extremely supportive in protecting that gut lining.
What else can we do?
1. Avoid prescription drugs and antibiotics except as treatments of absolutely last resort. Of course, this is to be discussed with your doctor but don't forget to ask those 3 simple words, "is this necessary?"
2. Eliminate what I call "white trash"...or processed foods & added sugars and instead, begin eating a diet rich in whole foods, fresh veggies, lean proteins, and fats like coconut oil, avocado, eggs, raw nuts, and seeds. Eat fermented foods like real yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso.
3. Take a probiotic! One that contains the natural bacteria as well as the prebiotic materials your gut needs to feed the good buggers. The amazing gut replenesher I take is here . I normally take about 3 per day in the morning or evening.
Want to rebuild a healthy gut? We must first start with a minor flush to help drown out the nasty stuff and clean the gut lining, then come in strong with the healthy bacteria and whole food concentrates that help to rebuild the lining of the gut. It's also important to develop a natural healthy acidity which the healthy bacteria love since it's hostile to the nasty bacteria.
To get on the faster track, feel free to check out my gut balancing program. You're 10 days away from a sexy slim down.
The billions of microbes in your body are ready to help you get healthier. It's up to you to heal and support them.
Check out these gut-building recipes
The anti-anxiety diet, Ali Miller RD, LD, CDE
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