If you are interested in natural living, you have likely come across the concept of gut health at some point. So you’ve probably already gathered, from all of this information, how large of a role the topic plays in our overall health.
What’s the Big Deal About Gut Health?
But in case you are unclear about the magnitude of its importance, here is a list of some of the important tasks that our gut is involved in:
- Breaking down our food
- Absorbing nutrients from that food
- Guarding our bodies from toxins that attempt enter
- Producing important nutrients for our bodies
- Keeping our immune systems in check
Yep, very much so. Let me explain.
The Immune System-Gut Health Connection
“Your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system.” EcoWatch.com
Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. There are around 100 trillion of these bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. No two microbiomes are alike.
Your individual microbiome begins forming the moment you are born, transferring microorganisms from the birth canal. From then on it is in constant communication with your immune system, guarding your body from toxins and keeping the whole system in check, as I mentioned above.
When our gut barrier (the linings of our intestines) is healthy, it acts as one of the first lines of defense against illness and disease. However, when the gut is not in balance, it becomes more at risk from harm when exposed to pathogens.
When Our Microbiome is Thrown Out of Balance
Unfortunately, there are aspects of modern-day society that can make it challenging to maintain a healthy gut flora balance. Following are some of the many health issues that can result from a gut imbalance:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Mood disorders
What Throws Our Gut Out of Balance?
It’s critical to be aware of what causes our microbiome to become out of balance so that we can avoid or limit those issues as much as possible. Here are some of the main concerns to consider.
- A diet that is high in processed foods
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics
- Bodily infections
- Toxins overload (Triclosan, BPA, heavy metals, pesticides)
- An inadequate amount of digestive enzymes
- High levels of stress
Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
So, how can we even know if our microbiome is actually out-of-balance and leaving us at risk for health issues?
Well, fortunately, there are certain signs to be aware of. They include:
- Experiencing digestive issues (heartburn, gas, bloating, constipation)
- An unexplained weight gain or loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Sleeping issues (insomnia, waking)
- Skin reactions caused by acne, rosacea or eczema
- Autoimmune diseases
If you are curious to know the status of your microbiome, there are tests that you can take to determine this. One that I highly recommend is Viome. You can take it in the comfort of your own home and it is currently being offered at half price!
Steps We Can Take to Improve Gut Health
For those of you who are concerned about the health of your microbiome, there are plenty of steps you can take to either keep or bring it back in check.
Start with your diet
As holds true with most areas of health prevention, you are what you eat. Here are some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet for optimum gut health results.
- High-fiber veggies
- Low-sugar fruits
- Low-gluten grains
- Sprouted veggies
This is another common preventative that works well for gut health, too. It’s critical to flush that body of toxins!
Take a Probiotic
Move your body
As with the hydration, there is not a lot that a little daily movement cannot improve in regard to your health. Whether it be a simple stroll, a 10k marathon or a yoga class, just make sure you are moving daily.
Avoid antibacterials & antibiotics
The problem with the prefix “anti” here is, they take the good with the bad. I realize that in some cases you can’t avoid them; but when you can, you definitely should.
Limit Toxins Exposure
Chemicals have existed for decades, but never in the current capacity. There are 84,000 chemicals on the market, but only 1% of them have actually been properly tested for our health and safety. Eat organic, especially the dirty dozen; avoid plastic food/drink containers & storage; and run your personal products through an EWG safety screening.
Take a Few Moments to Meditate
We could all stand to relax a little more. Stress is a toxicant that also contributes to the deterioration of our gut lining. By starting your day with a few minutes of Insight Timer meditation, you can set the tone for your entire day.
Julie M. Smith, M.S., is a natural living blogger at Go Green Mamas. Like many of us, she is passionate about keeping her family healthy; however, she took her concern a step further, by formally studying environmental toxins. Julie also cares deeply about the environment, and blogs frequently about ways mere moms can help save it. She is mom to two little girls and wife to her tech support guy. When she’s not writing, she enjoys organizing events for her women’s circle, wandering charming neighborhoods, and any opportunity to travel.