We all know that when your stomach doesn’t feel right it can throw a lot of things off balance. What you may not know is science is backing up your gut feelings on this one! If you don’t have a healthy gut, other areas of your health will suffer too! It turns out taking care of your stomach is well, more than a big deal. Your gut environment is tied to your digestive system. Having a healthy digestive system means having a well balanced diet that your body can thrive on. An unbalanced gut could be effecting areas of your health such as the strength of your immune system, your mood, brain health, your skin, food sensitivities/allergies, and your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrition from the foods you eat.
Incorporating these 5 steps towards a healthier gut will bring you closer to optimal health! Every system is connected to the other in some way and we must not forget that when we support or neglect one system our entire body can suffer the consequences. Alternatively, use the tools to support one major system and reap enormous benefits throughout the system!
I asked Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Jaime Mass to give us the 411 on gut health and here’s what Jaime had to say:
1. Remove irritants
If you find you are sensitive to certain foods or you think you might be, don’t second guess yourself. Reach out to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who can help you determine if some foods might actually be causing this sensitivity. Iincreased inflammation, irritation, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or general upset stomach. If there are foods causing you problems than it is worth the investigation, a simple diet change might be the first step to supporting your gut and overall health.
2. Start incorporating fermented foods
Fermented foods contain lactic acid producing healthy bacteria. One of the goals of supporting your gut health is trying to create a better balanced gut. This means more healthy favorable bacteria. These friendly bacteria can be found in fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt with live cultures, and pickled vegetables. Fermented foods are not for everyone though, and I completely understand that. It can be difficult to incorporate some of these foods daily. It isn’t the only way to help your gut health so let’s look at some more!
3. Get your hands on a high quality probiotic
You have probably heard the importance of taking a probiotic but how do you know if it is a good probiotic and why do you need it? Well the average American doesn’t have a favorable gut environment, our lifestyles don’t support it! For example: Through creating a more favorable gut environment we foster healthy communication between the gut and the brain, supporting healthy mood. Many times the day to day stress, low quality foods, and poor digestion can lead to an unhealthy gut environment. we also must recognize that there is a time and a place for antibiotics.
However, antibiotics not only knock out the bad bacteria they also knock out the good. Leaving your gut vulnerable to poor digestion, poor nutrient absorption, upset tummy, and a lack of healthy flora. Taking a probiotic can restore that balance lost. Your immune system is also partially controlled by the gut; so taking care of your gut can help you fight off pathogens, keep your system strong, and primed for seasonal immune concerns. When you take a high quality probiotic you are bringing healthy bacteria into the gut and fostering a healthier balance and environment. Which means a healthier you!
4. Manage that stress
High stress can cause a lot of damage to the body as a whole, the adrenal glands, your hormone balance, weight control, and blood sugar control. It’s no wonder stress can also wreak havoc on the gut environment and function. If you have high stress, it maybe time to start taking measures to control it. Before it starts getting in the way of your health and your life.
5. Consider the use of a high quality glutamine powder
L-Glutamine is a small protein (amino acid), that can give back to the digestive system and support healthy cells all through the intestines. This little amino acid does impressive work when it comes to the human body. Glutamine is not only studied in supporting the mucosal lining of the intestine, but also in controlling inflammation, providing fuel to the body to boost its natural antioxidant power, and immune balance by actually supporting the function of immune cells (such as white blood cells). When the gut has a healthier more rejuvenated lining you have an environment that is less prone to inflammation, supported nutrient absorption, and a more robust immune system. It is simply a bonus that glutamine supplementation is also studied in muscle health and exercise performance too!
Our GI tract is loaded with neurotransmitters that fire directly to our brains. This link is what causes us to know how we have an upset stomach right after we eat. It is amazing and it is also scary to think that damage done to our gut could be compromising our neurotransmitter communications. That is a fancy way of saying your GUT is talking to your brain and if we mess up that conversation we could be altering our mood, anxiety levels and our overall brain health.
“Supporting your gut needs to be as much of a priority as hitting the gym.”
If we don’t heal and support the gut then your body won’t effectively absorb nutrition or fuel your muscles. There is even research that shows gut health can affect your weight control and how your body metabolizes sugar (aka insulin resistance). With so much at stake when it comes to your gut health, it is time we start paying closer attention!
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