You know that your immune system plays a vital role in your health, but did you know that 60-80% of your immune system actually lives in your gut? Your gut lining, consisting of the walls of your intestine and colon, is home to the majority of your immune system’s cells which affect all areas of your health. The state of your gut flora plays a primary role in protecting against infection, proper digestion, and regulating mood and metabolism, to name just a few functions.
There are hundreds of important and necessary bacterial species living in the gut; both good and bad ones. The good ones help to digest food, produce crucial nutrients and fight harmful substances. The bad ones can lead to a leaky gut, inflammation, disease and more stubborn weight gain.
Your gut bacteria is its own microbiome, and you can affect how healthy yours is by what you feed it. Empty calories, sugary food create more harmful free radicals that cause illness and disease, while antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables feed your gut with the fuel it needs to protect and fight against celiac disease, chronic fatigue, IBS, diabetes, depression and heart disease, among other ailments that develop as a result of bad gut health. A healthy GI tract is crucial for your health, so let’s learn how to take care of it!
Health Conditions Associated With Poor Gut Health
Depression: 95% of serotonin (the mood stabilizer) is produced in our gut.
Arthritis: there is connection between a lack of good gut bacteria, excessive bad gut bacteria and joint pain
Parkinson’s Disease: studies have found a difference in the gut bacteria of healthy people versus people with Parkinson’s.
Colon Cancer: microbes in the gut that feed off of sugar and carbs can increase likelihood of colon cancer.
Signs Your Gut Health Needs Attention
Digestive problems (IBS, bloating, diarrhea)
Food sensitivity or food allergies
More frequent infection and illness
Skin issues (eczema, rosacea)
Difficulty with focus or memory
How to Improve Gut Health
Eliminate dietary sources that are not benefiting your body. Observe what, for you, causes negative symptoms and make note of any change once removed from diet for at least 2 months. For example, harmful bacteria feeds off of sugar and refined carbohydrates to multiply, so try cutting them from your diet. Gluten, dairy, yeast, eggs and soy are other common culprits that you can try cutting out and watching for improvement.
Adjust and adapt your diet and lifestyle while giving your body time (4-6 months) to recuperate. During this time, you can focus on improving hydration and eating clean and unprocessed food that is better for your digestion tract. Antioxidants, zinc, Omega-3 fatty acids and herbs like turmeric are all helpful substances at this point.
Heal your gut from previous harmful bacteria with good bacteria. You want your digestive enzymes, bile and hydrochloric acid at their prime levels so you can have a healthy digestive system. Probiotics, naturally fermented food, and Omega 3 fats are all good staples for long term gut health. Ask your doctor which dietary sources or supplements would be best for you.
Of course, always talk to your doctor or ask to be referred to a registered dietician or naturopath who can advise you with any questions you may have. There are professionals who can provide accurate tests to give you the best personal data to work with.