The Comprehensive, Natural Gut Health Plan
"Your gut health, or the health of your gastrointestinal system, affects nearly every function in your body."
In today's post, Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD holistic nutritionist, will share her comprehensive program for improving gut health, which plays a major role in joint, skin, brain, and immune health, in addition to other things. We will also take a look at some natural ways to improve your gut health. If the gut health is off balance, the stomach is not the only thing that suffers. Keep reading to find out more.
- 4:38: Gut-Brain Connection Facts
- 7:13: Gut
- 13:50: The second Brain/Gut Lining
- 19:24: Gut Microbiome
- 21:19: Signs of Unhealthy Gut
- 22:47: Top Tips
- 23:12: Probiotics
- 26:33: Feed your flora with prebiotics
- 28:35: Eat Less Sugar and avoid artificial sweeteners
- 32:43: Avoid antibiotics whenever possible
- 34:38: Exercise
- 37:46: Switch to all natural cleaning sources
- 41:53: Other ways to improve gut health
- 43:07: Wrap Up
Gut-Brain Connection Facts
- There is a really intense, strong relationship between our mental health problems and any gastrointestinal symptoms we may have, like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Having anxiety and depression can cause changes in your gut microbiome because of what happens in the body when it has a stress response. A good example of this is when something stressful happens and all of a sudden you have to go to the bathroom.
- Research has shown that the changes in the gut microbiome and inflammation in the gut can affect the brain and cause symptoms that look like Parkinson’s, autism, anxiety, and depression.
What is the Gut?
Your gut is your complete gastrointestinal tract. It starts at the mouth, and includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, large and small intestines, pancreas, colon, and anus. The gut includes every single organ involved in digesting food and processing it into the waste.
The Second Brain/Gut Lining
The lining of your gut can operate on its own, independent of your brain, and it can communicate back and forth with your brain. They are connected in two main ways. One is physically, by the vagus nerve which controls messages to the gut as well as the lungs, heart and other important organs. It is the gut’s physical connection to the brain.
“Gut health” refers to the balance of the good and the bad microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. These include 100 trillion little creatures like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microscopic organisms that are living inside you. Looking after the health of your gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is very vital for both physical and mental health. These 100 trillion microorganisms (about 2-6 pounds of tiny organisms in your body), make up the gut microbiome, or gut flora. To put this into perspective, the human heart weighs just under 1 pound and a human brain weighs about 3 pounds. Just like any other environment, the body has its own ecosystem. It’s so large, in fact, that the genes of the microbiome outnumber our body’s genes 100 to 1.
When it comes to the microbiome, the large intestines receive the most attention. This is because it contains the highest concentration and the greatest diversity of microbes in the entire body. It is lined with a layer of mucus, which, along with the microbes that live in there, form a gut biofilm. The biofilm contains an array of different microbes that carry out different tasks in your body and also work together to keep you healthy. What’s even more fascinating is that each and every person has their own unique makeup of microbes. What determines the different types of microbes in each person is a combination of genes, age, gender, health, dietary habits, the climate in which they live, and their occupation.
Your gut microbiome affects everything from pain, mood, sleep, and stress, to how your body uses the foods that you eat, to how you fight off that infection coming in. Your gut really is that important.
Signs of Unhealthy Gut
There are lots of signs of unhealthy gut microbiome and these can include:
- Frequent stomach aches or digestive issues
- Muscle aches and pain
- Joint pain
- Skin irritations, breakouts, and blemishes
- Sleep disturbances
- Fatigue or low energy
- Food intolerances, and especially to gluten
- Autoimmune issues
- Weight gain
Here are a few research-backed tips for making sure that your gut is optimal:
Take probiotics and eat fermented foods. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that is essential for keeping our gut microbiome ecosystem in homeostasis, in balance, and functioning correctly. They are essential for increasing the numbers of healthy bacteria that live in the gut while also decreasing the unhealthy bacteria. It’s responsible for improving the ability of the gut wall to act as a barrier to keep unwanted compounds out of the body, and decreasing your body’s own production of inflammation-producing compounds, improving immune system health, and lowering inflammation in the gut and throughout the body. This in turn is going to reduce several debilitating symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome, especially muscle and joint swelling.
Start by adding natural whole food sources of probiotics to your diet. Some probiotic food sources include kimchi, fermented vegetables, kombucha, and certain unpasteurized Sauerkrauts. You can make your own kimchi and fermented vegetables at home.
You should also augment these healthy eating habits with the Smarter Gut Health probiotic supplement. It’s got the best three stable strands of probiotics, and it is soil-based, meaning it does not degrade or start to oxidize and lose its effectiveness.
Feed your flora with prebiotics
Probiotics feed on complex carbohydrates and high-fiber foods. This process encourages beneficial bacteria to multiply in the gut and grow bigger. You want to feed the probiotics with prebiotics. This makes the bacteria in your gut more resilient during stress, environmental changes, or changes in PH and temperature in the body. The best sources of prebiotics include asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions, whole grains apples, and dark leafy greens. Raw is better when possible, not cooked.
Eat Less Sugar and avoid artificial sweeteners
Eating a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners can really cause gut dysbiosis. This is a really unhealthy, imbalance of the microbiome. The average American eats over 152 pounds of sugar each year. This is 3 pounds per week. Obviously, this is not good for the body. Just look at the increase in cases of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and obesity in kids.
A recent study found that the standard western diet, which is high in fat and high in sugar, negatively affects the gut microbiome. This has an influence on the brain-gut connection, and a devastating impact on our overall health. These artificial sugars and sweeteners change your taste buds and make you want to crave carbs, and it’s a downhill spiral from there. If you take it out of your diet for seven to 10 days the taste buds regenerate in that time, making you less likely to crave it.
Another study shows that the artificial sweetener aspartame increases the number of some bacterial strains that are linked with metabolic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Further research indicated that the use of artificial sweeteners can negatively impact blood glucose levels due to their effect on gut flora. This means that artificial sweeteners may increase blood sugar, even though it is not a sugar. If you need a sweet fix, you can opt for maple syrup or a little bit of local raw honey.
Avoid antibiotics whenever possible
This is a hard one, but it’s best to try as much as you can. Antibiotics are extremely over-prescribed in the U.S. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that doctors in the U.S. prescribe around 30% of antibiotics unnecessarily. Avoid taking antibiotics unless your doctor says they are absolutely necessary. This is because antibiotics kill the bad bacteria but they also kill the good bacteria that keep your gut working properly. This has long-term negative health implications for you. Some research reports that even six months after the use of antibiotics, the gut still lacks several species of beneficial bacteria. If you do need to take any antibiotics, make sure that you increase your probiotic intake during that time you’re taking it, and for a month or so after you finish taking the medication.
Exercising is the best way to express yourself through your body and give your body a chance to speak. Exercise improves your health, reduces inflammation, helps with weight loss, keeps our muscles and joints healthy and our bones strong, and improves blood pressure.
But that's not all. Research also shows that it helps keep your gut healthy. In addition to reducing chronic inflammation, research demonstrates that people engaging in regular exercise have a larger variety of gut flora than people who do not exercise. So make sure that you’re getting between 20 and 30 minutes of exercise, at a minimum, every day. Some of the activities you can do include: walking, playing tennis, swimming, yoga, stretching, strength training, or even dancing to your favorite songs. Aim for at least half an hour every single day. Remember, you can even multitask and exercise while watching TV by doing stretching, sit-ups, squats, or other types of exercises.
Switch to all natural cleaning sources
Just like antibiotics can disrupt your gut microbiome balance, so can chemical-based disinfectant cleaning products. Researchers found that people living in homes where disinfectant cleaning products are used weekly are twice as likely to have all of these nasty microbes in the gut; these are unhealthy types of bacteria associated with type-2 diabetes and obesity. They also had higher Body Mass Index (BMI) compared to those who didn’t use them. They were feeling sicker usually, and their immune systems were down. These cleaners that are supposed to kill 99% of the bacteria on contact, are harmful to the bacteria in our gut because they kill the good as well as the bad.
These are reasons why it’s important to use all natural cleaning products, or products that are labeled organic or clean. A good example is Seventh Generation cleaning products. Alternatively, you can make your own, using vinegar and a lot of the essential oils, orange peels, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda. This is 100% toxin-free, and it smells great.
Other ways proven to be effective in improving your gut health:
- Reducing your stress levels
- Getting enough quality sleep
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables (such as Dr. Nancy’s anti-inflammatory diet guide) which reduce and prevent chronic inflammation.
- You should also supplement with a Smarter Curcumin, which is a natural inflammation fighter. Take this consistently every single day.
Your gut health, or the health of your gastrointestinal system, affects nearly every function in your body. It makes up 70% of your immune system. If your gut is not well-balanced, you’re going to get sick more often. It will affect your brain function, digestive health, metabolism, blood sugar, and even determine how much inflammation we have in our bodies.
Your gut microbiome really is its own ecosystem, containing over 100 trillion (between two and six pounds) of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, including both healthy and unhealthy forms of each. Your gut health is really dependent on maintaining a healthy ratio of good bacteria and bad bacteria.
It is recommended to get the good homeostasis balance in your gut by eating and supplementing with probiotics, and feeding your gut flora with prebiotics, specifically raw sources of carbohydrates and fiber like bananas, garlic, apples, and dark leafy greens. It’s also best to avoid antibiotics whenever possible, reduce your consumption of sugar and avoid all artificial ingredients, exercise, switch to all natural cleaners, reduce your stress levels, get enough quality sleep, eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables, and finally reduce and prevent chronic inflammation by supplementing with curcumin.