In this second blog on gut health, I want to share with you:
- Two important areas of your gut that need your attention.
- Seven clues that tell you your gut may not be functioning well.
- Common mistakes that people make to ignore what is going on in their bodies.
Photo credit: Argonne National Laboratory
Building a healthy digestive system is one of the most important things you can do right now to protect yourself from pathogens, toxins, viruses, diseases and any imbalances that living in the 21st century places on your system.
Research over the last two decades has told us that gut health is critical to overall health and wellness, and that an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, a range of autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and more.
If you make your gut health a high priority this year you will create a life of great health, high productivity, and active longevity. A digestive health revolution is underway and we now know what goes on in the gut when it is compromised, how to heal it, and get on with your life. Before we get into what’s causing gut problems it is important to understand that there are two important aspects to digestive health. They are:
- The intestinal microbiome. (also see Go For Gut Health: Part I), Previously known as gut flora. This is the trillions of microbes or bacteria that live in your gut to keep it healthy, and healthy depends on what has gone on your gut. There are four kinds of microbial activities:
- Mutualism: This is where the microbes and our bodies are mutually benefiting each other. For example: When we eat fermented vegetables that contain these microbes we both get to benefit. The mutualistic organisms get the nourishment, and they then produce nutrients that benefit our bodies.
- Commensalism. In a commensal relationship one of us in the relationship benefits, and the other partner is neither benefitted nor harmed, it is neutral.
- Parasitism. A parasitic relationship is where one organism benefits at the expense of us as the host. The impacts on us can vary from minor to severe.
- Pathogenic. A pathogenic relationship is where an organism causes damage to our bodies through infection. If your body is already impaired an opportunistic pathogen will cause disease. In a healthy body the pathogen is harmless, but it takes advantage when our defenses are down. This happens when the normal microbes are destroyed by antibiotics, or when the immune system has been suppressed by drug treatment or other illnesses.
- The mucosa or the gut barrier. Your whole digestive tract is a tube that flows through your body. It is not part of the rest of your body. Everything you consume flows through this tube for the purpose of digesting what you consume and allowing all the digested microscopic nutrients to be absorbed into the body. The tube wall is built of an amazing lining called the mucosa that protects your body from damaging substances moving through the wall into the blood stream and into your body.
The good bacteria are the soldiers that guard and protect the mucosa from any thing getting through to your body. In a healthy system this works well, in an unhealthy gut, substances like gluten molecules can force their way through the wall and get into the bloodstream. The term for this is ‘leaky gut’. Once this happens things such as allergies, arthritis and a whole host of other illnesses become a real threat. This is very common and most people don’t even know it is happening.
2015 is the year I want to see you take up the challenge to build your knowledge about digestive health, and build a cast irongut that will keep you healthy for a long time. The revolution has begun, and we are right at the tip of the iceberg.
Seven clues that tell you your digestive system may not be functioning well
- You have taken antibiotics recently, or on several occasions throughout your life
- You feel tired or bloated after eating
- You have been stressed for some time
- Your diet is high in processed foods
- You already have an autoimmune disease, or are currently at the doctors investigating this possibility
- You have an irritable bowel that fluctuates between constipation and diarrhea
- Your energy is low and you don’t know why.
Some common mistakes that cause people to ignore what is going on in their bodies
- feel low in energy and just think it is part of life, getting older, or just a bad patch that will go away
- don’t know much about digestive health, and they have seen the adds on TV that suggest all you need to do is take a few probiotics to clear up gas or tummy problems
- think this digestive health thing is another diet fad thing and seems a bit far fetched
- are frightened that something terrible is wrong with them, and they really don’t want to face what it might be
- have brain fog, which is very common with gut related issues, and cannot think clearly about what to do about their health
- are out of touch with their bodies, stressed, overworking and have no time to think about their health
- don’t care about their health. What is most important is living the good life and working hard
All of these mistakes are really common to us all. I was the one who didn’t care about my health and was a chronic workaholic. What’s more I had two warnings before I really acted. It took a doctor and a naturopath to tell me I was headed for a train wreck.
When I finally acted on my health I had crossed many thresholds in my body including being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, getting depression, adrenal fatigue, poor sleep, and unable to work for 18 months while I recovered.
I felt stupid, ashamed, and angry with myself for being so negligent, and then I had to deal with those emotions. In my darkest moments I remember thinking “If only someone had told me about all this stuff”.
I feel that now I have come through the looking glass to healing my body, mind and spirit. It is a never ending journey, and I gained so much by the experience. This is why I am so passionate about helping women to avoid having their own train wreck.
Don’t wait until something bad happens to your health, act now, it will pay off.
My blog next week will be about all the things you can do to heal your gut and look after it for good.
Image credit: Take Back Your Health Conference