Overall Health is Linked to the Gut: What’s the Connection?
by Sandie Good
In my practice as a holistic health counselor, I interview many clients who are suffering from various physical and emotional complaints. These range from low energy, weight gain, gastrointestinal problems to more serious autoimmune conditions.
People are often surprised when I want to focus on their gut health, especially when they are not exhibiting any symptoms related to their stomach or digestion. So they think.
I am constantly meeting a high percentage of people who have problems with a condition called ‘leaky gut’ yet when I talk about this subject I am finding that very few people know what it is.
Sounds horrendous huh? A leaking gut! What the heck is it?
Leaky gut is another name for intestinal permeability.
We absorb most of our nutrients through the wall in our small intestine. This wall is only one cell thick and allows the digested nutrients through but blocks any toxins or substances that should not get into our bloodstream.
When the intestinal wall becomes damaged, holes develop in the lining. This allows bigger molecules of undigested food and toxins to get through.
The immune system attacks these substance and the result is inflammation in our brain and body. Our immune system then makes antibodies to these macromolecules and foreign invaders and this is one way that food allergies and autoimmune diseases develop.
How do I know if I have a leaky gut?
If you have any gastrointestinal or digestive problems, muscle or joint pain, depression, brain fog, migraines, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, acne or psoriasis, allergies, autism, or stubborn weight that you can’t lose then you may have issues with a leaky gut.
Why and how do we get leaky gut?
There are potentially up to 19 possible triggers for leaky gut. Some of the most common triggers appear to be gluten and dairy sensitivity, chronic NSAID or antibiotic use, chronic stress, sugar, alcohol and processed foods.
Can I heal my gut?
The intestinal lining repairs itself every few days. Our bodies are truly amazing, so even after chronic damage, you can definitely heal yourself.
My own personal experience speaks highly to this. I was sick and tired for approximately ten years. After many doctors’ visits and lab tests, I finally figured out that my problems were related to food.
The first step would be to remove the triggers. Some common trigger foods are dairy, gluten and sugar. However, everyone is unique and not everybody reacts to all triggers.
When you slowly add back some of these foods, you can determine what may be bothering you. This is why I typically work with people using elimination diets. Experimentation with food is highly diagnostic and many times even more revealing than lab testing.
Other dietary and lifestyle suggestions are:
– Use alcohol, antibiotics and anti inflammatory medications in moderation.
– Eat a variety of whole foods with the emphasis on fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Eat lots of colorful veggies, low sugar fruits and foods high in omega 3 fatty acids.
– Take a probiotic considering the body’s natural, healthy microbiome has been damaged and is more than likely out of whack. Glutamine is a great supplement to start the healing process of the intestinal wall.
Digestive enzymes are also beneficial because they help the body properly break down all the food that it is taking in. Many times people are having problems with the digestion piece. If large particles of food are making its way to the small intestine, this will be a problem for someone with a leaky gut
– Reduce and/or deal with stress. We are all dealing with stress on different levels but the thing we all have in common is that stressful situations and busy lifestyles are unavoidable.
You cannot get rid of the stress in your life but it is necessary to find healthy ways to manage it. Meditation and exercise are great ways to take care of yourself. Simple deep breathing exercises or a yoga class can be life changing.
Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates said that all disease starts in the gut. He also said “Let Food Be Thy Medicine”.
Food can be healing and it can be poison. We are all unique and even though our culture wants to simplify our diets and lifestyles and offer a one size fits all model, it is very important to listen to our bodies.
In the last decade, there has been considerable research on the subject of leaky gut and gut microbiome. Increased evidence is showing that gut health is highly linked to overall health and immunity.
Hippocrates had a lot figured out way back then. Heal your gut – the rest of your body will thank you!
Sandie Good is a Holistic Health and Wellness Counselor who lives in Falmouth.
She received her certification at the Institute For Integrative Nutrition in New York City and also has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology.
After healing herself through changes in food and lifestyle, she became passionate about empowering other women to take control of their health and started a coaching business called Heal Naturally With Foods.
Sandie offers individual coaching and runs online group detox programs.
Visit Sandie Good’s website at www.healnaturallywithfoods.com
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