Gut Health 101
You've heard about it. It's impossible that you haven't. Gut health is a big hot topic and buzzword right now -- and something that I talk about A LOT! But what really is gut health and why do you need to care about it?
We're exploring everything gut health here, but if you're feeling ready for the next step, book your free health check and get started on your gut-health journey today.
What is gut health?
The term "gut health" describes the function and balance of bacteria in the many parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
In a perfect world organs such as the esophagus, stomach, and intestines all work together to allow us to eat and digest food without discomfort. However, when these organs do not work properly, we can become ill or experience digestive issues. So, the health of your entire gut is more than just your stomach. It's really about the holistic wellness of your entire digestion system.
What causes poor gut health?
Poor gut health is a real problem. The fact that it's only now being talked about so much is crazy, but SO GOOD because we do need to be talking about it.
Diet and lifestyle factors can negatively affect your gut bacteria, including:
poor sleep quality
Being under stress, and experiencing anxiety or depression can also be the culprit of poor gut health.
How does poor gut health impact your body?
When you don't have a healthy gut, it can affect your sleep, your energy levels, and even your mood. You might not realize how much of an impact that can have on your life until you start feeling better. That's why it's important to know the warning signs that you might not be taking care of yourself properly.
If you've noticed any of the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one:
Upset stomach the majority of the time
Intolerance to some foods and cravings for sugar
Unintentional weight gain or loss
Skin irritations (rashes, pimples)
Mood changes (depression/anxiety)
Autoimmune problems (thyroid, arthritis, MS, diabetes)
Then it's time to start making some changes!
Myths & Facts About Gut Health
Eating a Low FODMAP diet will make all your digestive issues disappear. (FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. It's a diet to remove certain sugars)
Although low FODMAP is designed to remove the high FODMAP foods (short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that are hard for the small intestine to absorb) from your diet, it does not mean that is why you have digestive issues as a whole.
All you need to do to improve gut health is eat more fibre.
Not really that easy. Our bodies need a true balance of soluble and insoluble fibres for our digestive systems to be able to break them down without trouble. If you have too much of one and not enough of the other you can cause severe constipation or diarrhea. Also if you lack a full spectrum of digestive enzymes to break down the fibre, you will be worse off.
Colon cleanses detox your gut.
No. This one is my arch nemesis - and it should be one of yours! God designed our bodies with many organs to naturally detox our bodies on a daily basis. The only thing a “colon cleanse” might do is make you dehydrated and constipated. It’s a no for me and I hope it's a no for you too.
Eating a well balanced diet and drinking ample amounts of water is all you need! Trust me.
Improving Your Gut Health
How do I improve my gut health?
There are a variety of ways to improve your gut health and there is no one size fits all approach.
Contacting a professional specializing in digestive health is the best place to start. The reason for this is they can work with you to figure out where things went wrong, and what is bothering you specifically and come up with an action plan for your healing journey.
No 2 bodies are the same so when you try the next fad diet or search the internet for freebies, it may not be what works for your body and you will have wasted time.
How do I know if my gut is healthy?
Some signs of a healthy gut are:
regular bowel movements (that are the right shape and color)
eating well-balanced diet
you know if you have food allergies or triggers
you don't get sick often (strong immune system)
you experience no bloating or cramping post-meal-eating
you drink plenty of water
you don't have excess gas
If you are free of those, it’s a good sign that you have a perfectly healthy gut.
Supplements for gut health
The three main supplements I use in my transformation series are:
#1 Probiotic (needs to be specific to the individual, not just any probiotic)
#2 Glutamine (helps to sustain a healthy gut microbiome and contributes to the integrity of the intestinal lining)
#3 Turmeric (turmeric can help with gut inflammation and gut permeability, two measures of your digestive efficiency)
Again these are the main supplements I use but they should be individually assessed. There may be different recommendations on a case-by-case basis.
Best foods to eat to improve your gut
I hate to be on repeat but the best foods for you and Suzy down the road are going to be completely different. This is why I stress working with a nutritionist to get that assessed before you go out and purchase a bunch of food that can potentially make you sick. (Even healthy foods can not work for you and your body.)
However, what I can tell you is that by removing common trigger foods you are going to feel fewer symptoms of digestive distress.
Those common foods are:
Not everyone needs to remove these but if you are trying to figure it out on your own, removing these major irritators will help you assess your body's dislikes.