As a functional nutritionist, gut health is one of the things I specialize in the most.
In part because overall gut health is still a mystery for many, but mostly because so much of our overall health and brain function is tied to the health of our gut and our gut microbiome.
Now, before we dive in and talk about why you should care about your gut health – even if you aren’t currently experiencing any symptoms – let’s get a basic understanding of what I’m talking about when it comes to gut health.
Simply put, gut health refers to the health of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract (both the upper and lower) and the impact it has on the overall health of your body.
A healthy gut contributes to a heart health, brain health, a solid immune system, mood, productive sleep, proper digestion, weight management and even the prevention of some cancers or autoimmune diseases.
One of the things that majorly impacts gut health is the gut microbiome, which refers specifically to the microorganisms living inside your gut. Each one of us has about 300-500 different species living inside our gut – many of which have significant benefits to our overall health or could harm our health in serious ways.
Most of the time when our gut health is off, it can show up as weight gain, upset stomach, poor sleep, food intolerances, skin rashes, bloating or even depression.
But also, ongoing difficulties with gut health can be a sign or a precursor of something more serious looming on the horizon.
And while there is still so much mystery around how deeply connected your gut health may be to your overall health – one thing is for certain, feeding the right bacteria and supporting a healthy microbiome can critically influence your health long term.
Which is why I spend so much of my practice helping people revolutionize their overall gut health.
As you sit here now, it’s possible that you’ve been wondering why you’ve started to feel more sluggish lately. Or perhaps you’ve developed some new food intolerances. Or your mood may have even taken a turn for the worse without any clear changes in your life.
The last thing you think is that maybe your gut is the culprit.
Even your doctor may be telling you that they see nothing wrong and tell you to simply reduce your stress or eat a more “clean” diet.
But the truth may lie deeper inside . . . the truth may be that some of what your feeling can be tied to your gut microbiome!
Which is why one of the places I often begin a new client health exploration is with the gut!
The current modern diet that is supported by most of the population in this country doesn’t do anything to support the production of healthy gut bacteria – and, in fact, it may even be promoting the development of harmful gut bacteria.
Foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats or eating a lot of processed food, could be doing their job destroying your gut health and adding to the symptoms you’re currently feeling.
Plus, the difficulty your body may have in digesting some of these foods may be contributing to some outside factors impacting the production of unhealthy bacteria – things like poor sleep, lack of exercise or overindulging in bad habits.
What’s needed, instead, to improve your gut health is a diet that is rich in plant-based foods, fiber, collagen, fermented foods, and whole grain.
Prebiotic foods (artichokes, oats, apples, bananas) or supplements along with probiotic foods (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut) or supplements may also recommended.
And if you’re confused about which is which – you’re not alone. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria you find in food and supplements while prebiotics are the types of fiber that feed on friendly bacteria in your digestive system.
Now . . . if all this sounds a bit limiting, the good news is that foods rich in polyphenols like dark chocolate, olive oil, green tea and even wine can help your gut microbiome!
Overall, the key to looking at your gut health begins with really listening to the one part of your body that probably gets the least attention (or is the least talked about in public).
You’ll also want to consider some “outside” factors that might be impacting your gut health.
I often make lifestyle recommendations to each of my clients that may not initially seem like they make a difference, but often contribute significantly to the improvement of their health.
Obviously staying away from drugs, smoking and excess alcohol is important. But so can reducing stress, drinking water or deep breathing can alter the landscape.
Improving exercise and even adding meditation as a part of daily life can be influential!
In many ways, all the things you were taught to improve long-term health, are doubly important when it comes to maintaining your gut health.
I hope that some of this begins to clarify the mystery around why gut health is an important part of your health journey . . . even if you’re not feeling any symptoms right now.
For me, gut health was an essential piece of my own recovery from cancer and has helped me remain feeling active, healthy and happy – even when life’s challenges get thrown in the way.
If you’d like more information about what we do when it comes to improving gut health, please reach out or even email us with your questions! We also have a series of supplements to help you get started and would be happy to walk you through exactly what you need today!
In good (gut) health,
Want more information? Call 954-727-9006 or email Meryl today