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Good Health Begins in the Gut

Good Health Begins in the Gut 960 639 Janie

At Thrive Health we are very upfront about the fact that improving your health is hard work – there are NO quick fixes or miracle products that will replace the need to make changes that might not always be comfortable. (Click here to read our article on the topic).

Many people are simply not prepared to make these changes and as a result suffer the continuation of deteriorating health. This is a shame as the long term ramifications of not making change are immense.

There is however, something that every single person can do easily and cheaply, something that comes with no downside (apart from having to make some change) and something that could potentially have significant impact on your daily quality of life.

That something is improving the health of your gut. We all have a gut and we can all improve it.

Thousands of years before pharmaceutical companies ruled the world, Hippocrates stated that “all disease begins in the gut”. This insight continues to be proven by modern science and real world anecdotal evidence.

Your GP may or may not talk to you about the health of the gut. There will often be a reference to the fact you should take a probiotic whenever you take a course of antibiotics like it is no big deal. (Ironically antibiotics are freely prescribed to combat the conditions often caused by poor gut health). We might only think that we have gut health issues when the signs are obvious – unexplained nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, flatulence or reflex. Much of this is blamed on “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” but little insight is given into how to find relief.

But this is not the case as we will explore. If you have aches and pains, joint issues, headaches, mood swings, weight gain, memory lapses, frequent illness or other “unexplainable” ailments then the chances are your gut health is compromised.

Our guts are dying under the onslaught of commercialism. Processed foods, pharmaceuticals and even products sold to us to protect us from “germs” are destroying the delicate, natural balance of the trillions and trillions of microorganisms that make up our gut. Our gut is a living, breathing organ just like our heart or our liver. Most of us think of it as a dark, slimy coil of mysteriousness, conveniently hidden from view and something that we talk about in hushed whispers to avoid embarrassment.

Yet our gut is home to our microbiome. And our microbiome regulates our health. So yes, it is kind of a pretty big deal.

Chubby Woman Making Heart Shape With Her Hands On Her Belly On WHere is why we need a healthy gut:

  • Optimal Digestion – the bacteria in our gut help us digest and absorb nutrients from food. They can help us break down some proteins found in milk, grains and legumes that we would otherwise not be able to digest.
  • Optimal Nutrition – some bacterial species help us make nutrients in our gut, such as vitamin K, vitamin B & some fatty acids.
  • Protection from disease – It is now estimated that 90% of modern chronic disease and conditions are linked to inflammation – diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, depression, cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, autism and ADHD amongst others. And the latest theories suggest that inflammation starts in the gut as the result of imbalances in our microbiome.
  • Gut Integrity – The bacteria in our gut are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the lining of our gut. This lining is only one cell thick and is our window with the external world. This lining when working optimally allows nutrients from the food we eat into our bloodstream and keeps foreign substances out. When the microbiome is out of balance it causes the cells in the lining to separate causing inflammatory agents in the gut to leak into blood stream. “Leaky gut” is a very big problem.
  • Reduced Inflammation – The foreign substances in the blood stream then challenge the immune system and lead to inflammation. Just like when you are stung by a bee the skin becomes inflamed, the same thing happens throughout your body. The inflammation comes from the gut as a result of increased permeability of the gut lining so if you keep the microbiome healthy they can reduce inflammation in the body by maintaining the integrity of the gut lining.
  • Healthy Immune Response – This heightened immune response is also linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s Disease. Unfortunately the drugs prescribed to treat the inflammatory conditions don’t actually treat the inflammation, just the symptoms, so can never provide a cure.
  • Brain and Central Nervous System Health – Our microbiome produces some substances vital for the optimal functioning of our brain and central nervous system, for example boosting serotonin production for a better mood. It is estimated that 90% of the serotonin produced in the body is derived from but bacteria so there is a strong correlation between the health of the gut and depression. A healthy gut means more serotonin and hence less depression.
  • Optimal Sleep – there is a strong link between bacteria and circadian cycles, or our daily rhythms in activity. In mammals, for example, bacteria that play a role in digestion may also be associated with circadian rhythms and disturbances of these rhythms have been linked to depression, diabetes, obesity, and sleep disorders.
  • Stable Blood Sugar – It seems that our gut bacteria also help us regulate blood sugar. There are some types of bacteria that are altered in diabetics and in some new experimental treatment the fecal microbiome of has being transplanted from a healthy person to a diabetic person which has led to complete reversal of the diabetes.
  • Appetite Regulation – Our microbiome also controls our appetite level and satiety. When we have too many bad bacteria we stay hungry and constantly overeat which can lead to weight gain.

How do we improve our gut health?

  • Eliminate the problem causing inputs – these include sugar, wheat and processed food which contain non-natural products. All of these are stressors to the gut microbiome. Other toxins also need to be considered, this is anything from personal care products, contraceptives, medication, pain killers, chlorine in water to atmospheric toxins. It is useful to sit down with a blank piece of paper and write out all the sources of toxins in your world so you can see the full extent. Essentially, this means any contact you have with anything that is not 100% natural. Once you map this out you can make decisions about which ones can practically be eliminated. Eat heaps and heaps and heaps of vegetables. Local supplier Hartley Harvest is an excellent source for organic vegetables and fruit – Most vegetables are grown in the presence of pesticides and herbicides which are potent toxins.
  • Chicken-Bone-BrothConsume good bacteria – add in fermented products like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, unsweetened natural yogurt and kombucha and a good quality probiotic (Go Vita in Springwood can help you with all these or you can make the fermented products yourself easily with home-made whey or a starter culture. We also love the local kombucha from Herbs of Life.
  • Heal the gut – Add “bone broth” to your diet which contains lots of  gelatin which can help heal the gut, if you are not a big fan of meat try making chicken broth. it is easy to make our own fermented vegetables and broth. Coconut Oil is excellent as a healing aid for the gut. There are many other supplements that can be taken but keep it simple to start. It is so easy to make your own bone broth.
  • Get on top of stress and sleep – This is a 2 way-street, gut health affects stress and stress affects gut health. Relaxation techniques are important as is exercise like walking and appropriate strength training. Avoid exercise that will add more stress to the system though like high intensity exercise or “cardio” exercises.

For assistance on how to implement some of these interventions please do not hesitate to contact us.