We live in the time of fast cars, fast internet, fast food, fast life and slow metabolism. Ever wondered why only the latter one is lagging behind? It would be easy to blame someone or something else, but the truth is that most of the blame lies in our choices. Unhealthy food combined with increased caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, antibiotics and bad bacteria are causing a lot of damage to our gastrointestinal tract. The impact of these poor choices extends way beyond our gut health, all the way to our overall physical and emotional well-being. If you are wondering how this is possible, and how to use that knowledge to repair your gut health, here are a few tips.
You Are What You Process
What you eat and how you digest it can impact your emotions and overall mental well-being. According to American Psychological Association, gut bacteria produces 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin and a whole array of neurochemicals used by the brain to regulate mental processes, including learning, memory and mood. It should not come as a surprise then, that unhealthy gut is linked to a number of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety disorders. The less obvious system of poor gut health (the ones we tend to ignore) include fatigue, headaches, stress and mood changes.
“All Disease Begins in the Gut”
When Hippocrates said this more than 2, 000 years ago, he had no concrete evidence supporting this theory. Today, there are many studies proving that gut flora plays an essential role in overall well-being. Unhealthy gut can contribute to various diseases including obesity, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Damage in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to only partial digestion of food while the rest of it can cross to the bloodstream. This is otherwise known as a leaky gut syndrome, which can further lead to food allergies, autoimmune conditions and slow metabolism. According to some research, gut bacteria can impact the individual’s susceptibility to weight gain, but that is only the beginning. There is a growing interest among scientists in the link between gut bacteria and cancer. Some of their findings are that specific bacteria in the intestines can be connected to development of lymphoma, stomach cancer, duodenal ulcers and colorectal cancer.
How to Improve Your Gut Health?
Now that you are aware of all the risks that come with poor digestion, you probably want to change the odds in your favor and regain control over your emotional and physical well-being. Here are four key steps that should help you regain optimal gut health.
- Remove unhealthy foods from your system. Your body is probably burdened with toxins and offending foods that are irritating the gut and causing inflammatory response. Try to solve that by avoiding caffeine, bad fats, processed foods, alcohol, etc.
- Repair the damaged intestinal lining by opting for an unprocessed diet. Give your body time to rest from the unhealthy choices, and consume nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, L-glutamine, antioxidants, turmeric…
- Restore the optimal gut flora population by introducing probiotics to your diet. You can take them in the form of pills, or decide for a natural source, such as yogurt, kefir, sour pickles, kombucha, etc.
- Replace or add what is lacking in your diet or body (e.g. bile, enzymes and hydrochloric acid). You can use supplements or natural solutions (apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before every meal). Introducing raw fruits and vegetables in your diet is always a good way to ensure healthy digestion, but you can support it with proper food pairing, too.
Unhealthy gut is a modern-day disease, and the main problem with it is that it does not stick around only in your digestive system. Its negative effects extend to your mental and physical well-being, so you should do your best to maintain a healthy gut flora.