Let’s start with the simple question of what is the gut?
The ‘gut’ is a word used commonly today to describe the entire gastrointestinal tract which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. It involves just about every organ in the digestive cavity.
This delicately intertwined system is responsible for your body’s ability to function on every level. When this system functions poorly, our mental, physical, and emotional health can suffer.
How It Works
Digestion begins in the mouth where teeth masticate solid food and glands produce enzymes called salivary amylase which help to break down carbohydrates. From there, food is sent down the esophagus to the stomach. The stomach breaks down the food further by producing gastric juices, a mixture of digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and mucous. From there the food travels through the intestinal tract where the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas secrete more juices and continue breaking down the food. Along the way, the small intestine absorbs nutrients into the bloodstream, and any remnants will move through the large intestine and leave the body as waste.
You can think of the digestive system as a battery for the human body. When all parts of the battery are functioning optimally, the battery powers the body in a miraculous way. However, if some part of the battery begins to malfunction, the entire system is compromised and we feel the effects.
5 Common Symptoms of Poor Gut Health
1.) Poor Digestion- Gas, bloating, constipation, IBS, etc.
If you’ve experienced poor digestion, an imbalance in your digestive tract is most likely at play.
Gas is a sign of our body not being able to break down our food. Bloating can often occur due to having various food sensitivities. Constipation and IBS can be a combination of the two and often also occur due to internal and external stressors (which throws off the balance of the microbiota) as well as toxic overload from the food and environment.
Do you ever feel like no matter how much sleep you get, you still can’t seem to get enough? Once again, your gut health could be the key. When the body is unable to breakdown and assimilate the nutrients from our food, the chemical reactions in cells that produce energy won’t take place. You could eat the healthiest, most energy dense diet in the world, but that won’t matter unless the digestive tract is working at its best.
3.) Weight Gain
Have you been struggling with weight gain despite your best efforts and can’t quite figure out why?
It’s possible that an unhealthy gut is the source of the issue. The gut plays a key role in producing hormones that help to regulate everything from our sleep to our weight. A secondary issue are toxins that reside in fat tissues. When fat tissue is converted to energy, those toxins leave the fat and enter the bloodstream. The liver is responsible for filtering all of the blood in the body. This function is part of the body’s natural detoxification process. However, as the liver works to process out these toxins as waste it becomes overburdened and its normal functions start to slow or cease altogether. This can disrupt the release of important juices used during the digestive process.
4.) Problematic Skin
Acne, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis may signal that gut health is compromised.
The skin is the largest detox organ in the body. When the body is overloaded with toxins, unable to break down food properly or the microflora found in the digestive tract is out of balance, your skin may show signs that something is wrong. Any skin issue is a sign of excess inflammation in the body. When the body is trying hard to bring itself back to balance, its focus is no longer on developing new cells which is essential for healthy skin.
5.) Mental & Emotional Health
Depression, anxiety, and stress are also triggered by the balance of the gut microbiome.
Over 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Other hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine that are responsible for moderating stress are also produced in the gut. Imbalances in the microbiome means our emotional and mental state feels it too.
What can you do to help improve your gut health? As you can tell from above, the microbiome is quite complex. If you are dealing with any chronic issues, it’s best to connect with a Holistic Health Practitioner in order to get to the cause of our body’s symptoms. Also consider adding these daily tips to your routine and see if it helps your gut.
3 Tips to Support Gut Health
1.) Consume bitter foods – Bitter foods like sauerkraut, lemons and apple cider vinegar help to get the gastric juices flowing.
Consume bitter foods before meals to help aid in the breakdown of foods.
2.) Add collagen to your diet – Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in the body and it’s incredibly important for helping the integrity of the gut wall. If you are consuming foods with sensitivities, adding collagen to your diet can help to heal and seal the gut wall reducing symptoms. You can find more on collagen here.
3.) Annual Detox – Today our environment is loaded with toxins, from the air we breathe to the food we eat and the water we drink – toxins are everywhere. Finding a functional medicine detox will help to give the body a system reset and aid in your body’s ability to function at the most optimum level possible. Remember, your body’s symptoms are a cry for help. When it comes to healing your body focusing on the state of your gut health is key.
Amanda Biccum is a Holistic Health Coach and Nutritional Therapist. She works with clients from around to help them discover their own unique bio-individuality, creating a pathway which allows them to get to the ROOT of their body’s symptoms. As an expert in gut health, she has helped individuals heal their own gut based issues ranging from digestion issues, skin conditions, chronic fatigue, high stress and anxiety, weight loss and more. She is most well known for her 21-day #DETOXNotDiet ‘System Reset’ Program. A program designed to give individuals a reset and put them back on the track to ultimate health and vitality. You can find her online at www.amandabiccum.com.