The road to health is paved with good intestines!”
― Sherry A. Rogers―
If you were like me a few years ago, you probably thought the gut just took care of food digestion and nutrient absorption. To illustrate the far-reaching ramifications of gut health, read the list below to see if you, or someone you know, have any of the following issues:
√ Food intolerances √ Warts
√ Autoimmune diseases √ Yeast or bacteria overgrowth
√ Intestinal issues/inflammation √ Neuro-sensory issues
√ Parasite infections √ Brain fog
√ Depression √ Chronic Fatigue
√ Fibromyalgia √ Autism
√ Attention/focus problems √ Tummy Troubles
√ Chronic skin conditions √ Diarrhea/constipation
√ Acid reflux √ Diverticulitis
√ Hives √ Thrush
√ Athlete’s Foot √ Weight Issues
If you said, “yes” to any of the issues above, you probably have gut issues. If so, then your gut needs some help.
First of all, what is the gut? Why is it so important? Digestion and nutrient absorption are just the start. The gut also contains 80% of your immune system, regulates metabolism, protects against infection, influences gene activity and expression, brain development, mental health and memory2.
To help it do those things, you have about 100 trillion good and bad bacteria living inside your gut. They outnumber your regulars cells 10 to 1!1 If you were to weigh them all, they would measure 3-5 pounds! The correct balance of good to bad bacteria is about 85% to 15%1 and when this balance gets out of the right proportion, then you’re headed for trouble, as seen from the list above.
The following is a great 5 minute video summarizing our body’s need for a healthy microbiome. My college-aged son showed it to me when his Biology teacher shared it with the class. I was so excited that gut health was being taught somewhere! Entertaining and easy for even kids to understand.
Here’s a good illustration from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods: “Think of the digestive tract like a pasture. The gut wall itself is the soil. The beneficial bacteria that reside there are the various grasses, herbs, and legumes covering the soil. The plants, a highly organized system, act as protection against invasion and erosion. There are some opportunistic plants in the pasture, too, as well as various passersby floating on the wind, but the healthy plants keep everything else at bay and tightly regulated by out-competing it all. However, if the beneficial plants in this pasture are damaged, the soil will be exposed to anything else that comes along and takes root, such as a virus, fungus, pathogen, or toxin. Over time, further erosion and stripping occurs. Eventually, invaders take over completely. They will continue damaging the soil, sucking up nutrients and spreading disease.”
If we want to keep the soil of our gut rich and healthy, we must protect it from invaders, such as those listed above. In Gut Health Part 2, I’ll discuss what can negatively affect the health of this essential body part.
1 “New Discoveries About How Gut Bacteria Can Have Profound Implications for your Health” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/29/probiotics-for-good-digestive-health.aspx?e_cid=20121229_DNL_art_1
2 “Confirmed—Your Digestive System Dictates Whether You’re Sick or Well” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/02/digestive-system-gut-flora.aspx?e_cid=20130102_DNL_art_1