No one wants to talk about it…
But when 65 million Americans are suffering from it, we need to.
Stomach pain, bloating, constipation, gas, nausea, diarrhea — otherwise known as gut disorders symptoms.
If you’re one of the 65 million, struggling with your gut health, I recommend getting checked for one of the following disorders of the gut:
…and many more!
Aside from getting checked for one of these disorders, it’s important to understand exactly what gut health is and what we can do to optimize it.
Simply put, gut health is the function and overall health of the gastrointestinal tract and the complex balance and interplay of the thriving community of microorganisms that it contains. (1)
Your gut microbiome is extremely important as it has connections with multiple aspects of your body. For example, your gut sends chemical messages to your brain and these can be interrupted by the bacteria, fungi and viruses that are living in your gut. The gut and brain work together to keep you healthy. While they may seem like they’re very different, in reality, they are intimately connected.
The gut is home to the largest number of neurons in the body, which means it’s a complex network of nerves that controls many functions such as digestion and absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. The gut also produces hormones that regulate hunger and satiety levels, which can be affected by diet.
The brain is home to two important regions: the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher-order thinking processes such as attention and memory; and the cerebellum, which helps control movement in response to signals from other parts of the brain via its connections with nerves in other organs (such as the gut).
Both organs play a large role in maintaining overall health—but if either isn’t functioning properly due to poor dietary choices or lack thereof, you could experience serious consequences like depression or memory loss.
In addition to this gut and brain connection, there has also been connections between gut health and the following: (2)
In order to maintain a healthy gut, it’s important to focus on a diet filled with as many whole food options as possible. Don’t overindulge on processed, greasy, fried foods as they’re harder for your stomach to process. Similarly, fatty foods such as chips and burgers can be harder to digest.
Look at your diet as a whole. If your diet is high in fat, salt and sugars and low in fiber, whole food, and with a very limited range of foods it isn’t going to be able to support gut health because it won’t be getting the necessary nutrients.
Antibiotics often wreak havoc on your gut. While there are absolutely cases when antibiotics are necessary, too often antibiotics are overprescribed not only causing antibiotic-resistant bacteria but also these can have long-term effects that can last up to two years such as the development of antibiotic resistance genes in the gut, decreased immune function, and poor nutrient absorption (see more about the dangers of antibiotic overuse here).
Of all the antibiotics, it’s the broad-spectrum antibiotics that are typically overused. These are the ones generally prescribed for bacterial infections as they target both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. These include amoxicillin (the pink one), tetracyclines, sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), ampicillin and many others.
But it isn’t just overprescribing and long-term use that are problems. Antibiotics can also have short-term effects as well.
Typically, it will take the body time to balance the microbiome to healthy, diverse bacteria levels. In fact, research shows that it takes about 6 months to recover from the damage done by antibiotics. And even then, the body might not even be back to its pre-antibiotic state.(3)
Short-term effects include disturbances in the absorption of nutrients, metabolism, and overgrowth of yeast (S. cerevisiae), and can actually increase your susceptibility to infections. Basically, it creates a revolving door of illness.
Digestive Enzymes: When it comes to certain intolerances and sensitivities, a broad-spectrum enzyme can be good diet insurance, especially when it comes to hidden ingredients that may be present when you’re eating out. Bioptimizers Masszymes works well in this area.
Gut Environment/Flora: Use prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics.
Antimicrobials: Ingredients such as black walnut, oregano oil and silver are helpful when dysbiosis is pronounced and you need to get your gut back in line (to encourage probiosis).
Acid Reflux: Licorice may help reduce the acidic burn some experience after a meal.
Digestive Soothing: Mallow root and slippery elm are go-to herbs.
Gut Repair: Zinc carnosine helps to stabilize the gut and stimulate gut repair while collagen helps feed, nourish and improve the gut lining and resilience.
Reducing Allergic Histamines: Quercetin is a potent antihistamine that can help quell allergic triggers. Liposomes (also called phytosomes) can greatly improve bioavailability and efficacy.
Digestive Bitters: While often used in stiff drinks after dinner, I say skip the alcohol and just use the bitters—such as angelica, dandelion, ginger and citrus peel—as they can enhance digestive function by stimulating stomach acid, bile and digestive enzymes to break down food and absorb nutrients better. I like Dr. Shade’s Bitters No. 9 by Quicksilver Scientific.
Glutamine: This is a key amino acid heavily present in the gut lining, keeping the tight junctions tight, improving the absorption of the nutrients you want absorbed and keeping the other leaky gut toxins out. Take 5-10g as tolerated.
The Number 1 Secret to Gut Health, Tributyrin: Short-chain fatty acid postbiotic (the bioactive compounds the probiotic bacteria produce when they consume prebiotics) that promotes the growth of good bacteria, optimizes acid/base balance in the GI tract and suppresses pathogens. It supports healthy nutrient absorption and provides more comfortable digestion.
It may not be something people typically think about but your gut is important for more than just the digestion of your food. A healthy gut helps many of your body’s other processes run optimally and efficiently. If we’re not fueling it with the correct foods and taking care of it, we will experience numerous consequences, affecting the whole body.
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