Heal Your Gut, Support Your Immune System
Maintaining a healthy digestive system is an incredibly important factor in supporting our immune system and the body as a whole. With 70% of the body’s immune system residing in the gut and 90% of serotonin being made in the digestive tract, it is an essential part of maintaining a healthy immune system and mood (1)
Simply eating a healthy diet and taking probiotics seems to be sufficient enough to support a healthy gut, but there is a lot more that goes into it.
While I was in Nutrition School I discovered I was suffering from Leaky Gut and Candida even though I ate really healthy.
It caused me to have a weakened immune system, poor nutrient absorption, and reoccurring brain fog and mood swings.
I had no idea the foods I consumed on a regular basis were actually were feeding the overgrowth of bad bacteria in my gut.
It wasn’t until I got a proper diagnosis from a comprehensive stool test, was I able to identify exactly what my exact gut issues were and to have an actionable plan to resolve them.
In the words of the great Greek Physician Hippocrates, “All disease begins in the gut.” These wise words have been the voice of reason for many practitioners to use the gut as a starting point in helping to improve their patients’ health. The health of the gut is of optimum importance for a healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy life.
Symptoms of gut imbalances will vary due to bio-individuality and other lifestyle factors. Here are some symptoms that can be attributed to gut imbalances (2)
Frequent upset stomach
Poor sleep quality
The gut has tight junctions that keep the lining of the gut sealed to prevent food particles, toxins, and foreign matter from entering the bloodstream and causing harm. When the gut is not healthy and let untreated the tight junctions can weaken and food particles and foreign matter can enter the bloodstream which can cause food intolerances, mood swings, and autoimmune conditions.
A stool test is recommended to get to the root cause of an imbalanced gut. However, not all stool tests scan for all the requirements necessary to make a proper diagnosis.
A comprehensive stool test should be ordered to achieve a thorough analysis of gut health. (3)Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash
What are the causes of an unhealthy gut?
Some common causes for an unhealthy gut can be attributed to everyday lifestyle factors such as:
Stress causes the body to go into fight or flight mode which can cause inflammation in the gut (4)
NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs over time can cause issues related to the gut
Excess sugar causes inflammation and feeds the bad bacteria in the gut
Inflammatory foods such as heavily processed oils such as Canola oil, corn oil, and soybean oil. And fried foods, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, excess alcohol. All these foods can cause inflammation in the gut and create imbalances that lead to an unhealthy gut.
Glyphosate (Roundup) can decrease the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Excess processed food consumption can cause inflammation of the gut and an imbalance of bacteria.
Excess alcohol can feed the bad bacteria in the gut and cause inflammation.
Food intolerances can cause chronic inflammation in the body and weaken the guts lining making the body more prone to illness (5)
What foods support a healthy gut?
Bone broth is incredibly healing to the gut lining due to its rich nutrient content and bioavailability of nutrients. Bone broth is rich in amino acids, collagen, and compounds such as glutamine, glycine, and proline. The nutrients in bone broth assist in healing the lining of the gut. Also, beef gelatin supports a healthy gut and fruit gummies made with beef gelatin are an easy and tasty gut supporting treat.
High fiber foods such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, asparagus, artichokes, and leeks, are all wonderful foods for supporting a healthy gut. (6)
High-quality probiotics are a wonderful addition to a healthy gut supporting diet. The gut has billions of bacteria, both good and bad and probiotics help to increase the beneficial gut bacteria.(7) It is important to note that people who might suspect a dairy intolerance should opt for dairy-free probiotics. Food intolerance’s wear down the gut lining.
Consume probiotic-rich foods such as fermented veggies, kefir, kimchi, yogurt without added sugars, and fermented drinks.
Consume prebiotic-rich foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, Barley, oats, apples, flax seeds, seaweed, and apple cider vinegar.
Eat Anti-inflammatory Foods such as turmeric, ginger, green leafy veggies, and fresh fruits.
Consume Omega 3 Rich Foods such as chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, coconut oil, olive oil
Consume healthy fats Grass-fed butter, Ghee, Extra virgin olive oil. Coconut oil, Avocado oil, avocados, and chia seeds.
Drink adequate amounts of filtered water daily. Aim to drink 40–64oz depending on your height, weight, and level of activity. This will help to flush toxins and support a healthy gut.Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
How to maintain gut health in daily routine?
To maintain a healthy gut requires daily practices that take into consideration all diet and lifestyle factors.(8)
Consuming a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals is a great way to support a healthy gut. Eating a wide range of colorful vegetables, fruits, clean proteins, healthy fats, and collagen-rich foods is a wonderful way to support gut health daily. Also drinking plenty of filtered water, exercising, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, reducing stress, and using non-toxic products can help to maintain a healthy gut.
How long does it take to heal your gut?
There is no set duration to heal the gut due to bio-individuality, diet, lifestyle, everyday lifestyle factors, and co-existing health issues all play a role. However, some gut imbalances can be improved in as little as 3 months and up to 2 years.
It is always important to know what kind of gut imbalance has occurred to get to the root cause. There are many types of gut imbalances such as lack of unhealthy gut bacteria, Candida, Sibo, Leaky Gut, Bacterial Overgrowth, IBS, parasites, and more. Without identifying the exact type of imbalance, the incorrect diet, supplements, and protocol could make the symptoms worse.
How does an unhealthy gut affect the body long term?
An unhealthy gut affects the body as a whole and can cause health complications such as autoimmune conditions if left untreated. The long-term effects of an unhealthy gut will vary based on bio-individuality; however, some gut imbalances can be attributed to poor absorption of vitamins and minerals leaving the body deficient and leading to other health complications. Also, an unhealthy gut can make the body more vulnerable to illness and disease due to weakened immunity.
It is also important to note that an unhealthy gut that is left untreated can decrease a person’s quality of life due to the connection in mood disorders and cognitive impairment.
It took me six months of following a strict diet and supplement protocol to heal my specific gut issues. It wasn’t easy but, I am sure glad that I did it. I never get sick anymore and my brain fog and mood swings are completely gone. I am a firm believer in placing gut health at the top of the list in ones health journey.
Placing your gut health at the top of your priority list is a great way to protect the immune system and health long term.