Do you know that you have more bacteria in your gut than your entire body has cells?
That’s a lot!
Does the idea of oodles of bacteria floating around in your intestines make you squirm a little too? Yeah, I try not to think too hard about what’s actually going on down there!
Hippocrates once said, “all disease begins in the gut” and many doctors and nutritionists call our gut “the second brain”.
What goes on in the gut doesn’t just stay in the gut. No, what goes on in your gut plays a HUGE role in the overall health of your entire body.
Therefore, having a healthy gut and a balanced gut microbiome is SO important!
A person with an unhealthy gut may experience symptoms such as:
- Burping after eating
- Foul smelling stools
- Bad breath
- Undigested food in stool
People who go to see their doctors with these types of complaints may be diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut, bacterial imbalances or no diagnosis at all.
That’s because it can be tough to figure out exactly what’s causing a person’s digestive problems.
What’s NOT good for a person with these symptoms is giving them more prescription medications as these can irritate the gut and create further imbalances.
Figuring out the root cause of these symptoms should be the top priority!
Many chronic metabolic diseases start in the gut.
If the bacteria are imbalanced, they can irritate the intestinal wall; this irritation causes the wall to become ‘leaky’, which allows unwanted bacteria products called endotoxins to enter the bloodstream.
Once in the bloodstream, the immune system kicks up an attack because it doesn’t recognize these endotoxins, and chronic inflammation begins.
Leaky gut, a major contributor to chronic inflammation throughout the body, is typically caused by inflammation of the intestinal walls from poor food choices, low levels of good bacteria, toxins and irritants.
The intestinal walls themselves can become inflamed from endotoxins and undigested food particles (from poor digestion, not chewing food enough, or low levels of good bacteria).
In response to this inflammation, the gut produces a layer of mucous that prevents nutrients from being properly absorbed into the bloodstream.
In addition to metabolic problems, inflammation in the gut can lead to insulin resistance, leptin resistance, fatty liver disease and other major illnesses.
However, there are a bunch of different health symptoms that are related to the gut health that we don’t typically think about as gut issues, like acne, allergies, eczema, or autoimmune diseases.
You need a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria in order to experience optimal health; this is the primary focus of my practice – to ensure that your gut bacteria are balanced and ready to take on all the important nutrients you get from a healthy, whole-foods diet.
Good bacteria are important not only for preventing inflammation and digestive disorders.
Good bacteria help manufacture vitamins B12, K, B6, B5, B3, folate and biotin; improve the absorption of minerals; act as part of the immune system to fight off pathogens; breakdown food particles; and metabolize drugs.
So, when your gut health is not optimal, your body won’t be able to properly assimilate (absorb) nutrients from your food and your body will be in a state of stress and inflammation as it tries to fight against unknown invaders (i.e. undigested proteins, endotoxins).
Your body may not be getting all the nutrients it needs to maintain health.
One of the best things you can do to improve your gut health is to increase your fiber intake.
Fiber from both soluble and insoluble sources will help improve elimination, absorb toxins from the gut, and regulate pH of the gut to help the good bacteria grow and thrive.
Your health all boils down to how healthy your gut bacteria and intestinal walls are.
If you suspect a gut imbalance, you can help reverse your symptoms by avoiding refined sugars, refined grains, artificial sweeteners, MSG, NSAID drugs, and alcohol.
Increase your intake of fiber, eat natural food, sleep well and supplement with a high-quality probiotic.
Avoid overeating and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing, as undigested food can irritate the gut lining and reduce your good bacteria levels.