GUT HEALTH 101
Have you ever just felt off but couldn’t quite put your finger on what is causing your issues? Ever felt like you’ve done everything possible to be as healthy as you can be, but still something isn’t quite right? Ever just had that “gut feeling”? Well, it could possibly be your actual gut talking to you and screaming for a reset and repair!
Gut health has become all the rage in the last few years, but do you really know why? It’s easy to think that all you might need to do is pop a probiotic and then all of your gut issues are solved. Let’s dive deep into your guts to find out why a healthy gut microbiome is essential for you feeling and functioning at your absolute best.
Your gut is responsible for more than just digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and getting rid of waste. Your gut provides a physical barrier against exotoxins that could lead to illness. It is a huge part of your immune system. Sometimes, the lining of our intestines become compromised when you aren’t getting in proper proteins and fats. This means that the protective barrier breaks down and foreign invaders now have an easier time entering our blood stream. This leads to inflammation of the gut and even many autoimmune disorders. We can also develop sensitivities and allergies when our gut isn’t healthy. If we have too much bacteria in our guts, then our digestion can be off, but with too little, then some nutrients cannot be absorbed into our system. Our body is truly walking a thin line when it comes to maintaining homeostasis or the balance it needs to stay alive.
SO, WHY TAKE OR EAT PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics can help with GI conditions and they balance good
and bad gut bacteria. Probiotics can:
- Help with synthesis of some vitamins, like B and K.
- Produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs regulate T-cells which strengthen the immune system and act as anti-inflammatories.
- Improve symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis.
- Reduce oral candidiasis and yeast infections.
- Potentially combat obesity and aide in improving weight loss (more research needs to be done on this)
- Help with diarrhea and GI issues.
- Help with constipation
HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD PROBIOTIC IN SUPPLEMENT FORM?
That really depends based on the brands you like, but the most common strains of bacteria to look for are, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces. Many supplements contain multiple live strains of bacteria. However, it has been shown that probiotic FOODS are more effective carriers of probiotics.
Here are some foods you should try to incorporate into your diet for a healthy gut:
- Yogurts (full-fat, plain Greek yogurts will be your best bet)
- Kefir, which is a fermented milk drink
- Fermented soy beans like tempeh, natto, and miso
- Traditional buttermilk
Besides focusing on probiotics to ensure your gut health is on point, you also need to make sure to get in enough GOOD fiber so your gut bacteria has something to eat! Unfortunately, most of us only get about HALF of the fiber our bodies need. Not only is fiber good for gut health, but it also regulates blood sugars, regulates our bowel movements and maintains our bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels, helps with achieving weight loss, and can help us to live longer.
HERE ARE A FEW FOOD SOURCES FOR FIBER:
- Jerusalem artichokes
Healing and repairing your gut is crucial to maintaining a body that feels good but also functions properly. Try adding in some of these foods to balance your gut microbiome and hopefully you’ll start to notice that your gut isn’t “screaming” at you anymore!
-Monica Schwingel, NTP, Owner of Nutritionally Empowered