Our gut is the basis of our health – it’s the first line of defense against pathogens, it’s where we digest and absorb nutrients and where we house our gut microbes, also known as gut bacteria. Poor gut health is now thought to be strongly linked to a compromised immune system, malnutrition, and poor mood regulation, and can play a role in arthritis and obesity among other health issues.
Improve Gut Health
When your gut isn’t healthy you are likely to have some initial symptoms that if left alone can spiral out of control, leaving you feeling unable to cope with your life in general. Here are some red flags that may go up that signal you should seek professional help to heal your gut.
1. Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Our intestinal linings are filled with nerves that contain similar tissue as the brain. These nerves communicate with the brain and release feel-good neurotransmitters. If your gut bacteria are in balance, you’re more likely to feel mentally balanced too.
2. You Get Sick a Lot
Do you catch every cold that goes around your office or home? Because more than three-quarters of your immune system is found in your gastrointestinal tract and if you have imbalances there, your immune system is compromised. The wrong bugs in the intestines limit our body’s ability to use immune boosting vitamins and nutrients properly.
3. Skin Problems
Persistent acne, rosacea, eczema, dandruff or itchy, flaky skin may be coming from your gut because of the overall inflammation caused in the body by an unhealthy gut environment.
4. Stubborn Excess Weight
If you have trouble losing weight no matter what you do, it may be due to an unhealthy gut as you may have a different balance of intestinal bacteria than people who are at a healthy weight.
5. Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, bloating, and burping are often caused by a buildup of unhealthy bacteria in the GI tract and stomach. And it is important to note that the acid reducing OTC products you might think help, actually help these bad bacteria thrive.
6. Lack of Energy
If you find it hard to dredge up any energy even when you’ve had enough sleep, you may have an unhealthy gut because an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the gut can prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients it needs from foods, leaving you tired all the time.
Gut Healthy Diet
Some of the ways I help my patients begin to improve their gut health is by customizing their diet to include gut loving foods such as:
1. Plenty of veggies and healthy fats. Vegetables provide our body with the nutrients it needs on a day-to-day basis and helps to maintain general health while providing fiber to keep the gut healthy. An emphasis on plant-based foods for gut health is a good way to go.
2. It is also important to eat plenty of non-digestible fiber, like bananas, onion, and garlic.
3. Add to that list, cruciferous veggies like brussels sprouts and broccoli which have sulfur-containing metabolites, known as glucosinolates, which are broken down by microbes to release substances that reduce gut inflammation.
4. Aim to add some foods that contain probiotics such as natural-style yogurt without added sugars and fermented foods (miso, sauerkraut, kimchi). Fermented foods directly inoculate your gut with healthy live microorganisms that will crowd out the unhealthy bacteria, improve the absorption of minerals, and improve overall health.
Probiotics are super important for achieving gut health whether through the use of foods or supplements.
5. Stay hydrated with plenty of filtered water to help flush the digestive tract of toxins and avoid constipation.
6. And of course, watch alcohol intake and in general, get rid of all the processed, fatty, sugary junk foods in your life.
Stay connected and sign up for my FREE newsletter
Bonus: Download my ‘12-Key Tips for Healthy Digestion’ Guide
What is SIBO?
SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth happens when you have an excess of bacteria in your small intestine. Statistically, 80% of people who are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are also said to have SIBO. And while SIBO does share many of the same symptoms as IBS, which makes it tricky to diagnose. SIBO is different than other common digestive conditions, like leaky gut syndrome — while the other conditions affect the entire GI tract.
And because the small intestine is where 90% of nutrient absorption occurs — if you have SIBO, the rest of your organs that depend on essential nutrients can also be affected. Left untreated, it can also lead to permanent cellular damage and can leave your body more susceptible to developing a variety of autoimmune diseases.
The good news is SIBO is a treatable condition and I have had good success helping patients find relief by guiding them on specific SIBO protocol and diet. The SIBO diet can be very restrictive and cause of frustration in trying to follow it religiously. The best SIBO diet is one that is customized for your needs, not just based off an arbitrary list or the FODMAP diet. There is where experimenting with the SIBO diet can lead to more food choices without fretting if you eat something off of the list.
A couple of my recommendations when following the SIBO diet:
1. The SIBO diet can differ from person to person, find your zone.
2. Restrict the foods you react to severely, but don’t overly restrict all foods.
3. Don’t get frustrated if you eat something you shouldn’t have.
4. Love the foods you can eat and get creative in food preparation.
5. Don’t get obsessed with the diet or create fear or anxiety about eating.
6. Don’t be afraid to add back foods you once reacted to after being on your treatment plan.
In some circumstances, the GAPS diet may be a good place to start for its gut healing benefits.
THE GAPS DIET
The GAPS Diet, is a therapeutic diet focused on healing leaky gut syndrome, reducing inflammation and even treating certain neurological conditions. In a nutshell, it calls for:
- Introduction of a bone broth-based recipe to restore the gut lining
- Eliminating complex carbohydrates, which feed pathogenic bacteria
- Emphasizing fermented foods and specific probiotic supplements to restore gut flora
- Plenty of nutrient-dense, traditional foods to restore nutrient deficiencies
- A specific protocol of food-reintroduction
- Encourages lifestyle changes that include various detox and immune-boosting steps
The GAPS Diet can be life-changing support for those who suffer from:
Studies show that autoimmune disease markers show a permeable intestinal lining – or leaky gut. With a leaky gut, bacterial toxins and undigested food particles escape into the bloodstream instead of being detoxed or fully digested creating both an inflammatory response and an antibody response. The GAPS diet removes foods that perpetuate a leaky gut to promote healing, so foods can be re-introduced without igniting the antibodies.
Chronic Candida Overgrowth
Candida results from a leaky gut and while the traditional “candida diet” is often undertaken, it only ineffectively starves the candida without fixing the cause! I believe the GAPS Diet is a much better approach to candida.
Arthritis results from a leaky gut and gut flora imbalance as toxins from the digestive tract escape into the bloodstream and attach themselves to collagen molecules in the joints. As a result, the immune system recognizes the collagen as toxic, so it mounts an immune response and attacks it. This call all be effectively reversed by healing the gut with the GAPS Diet so that the body can properly manage inflammation and cleanse the collagen of toxins. the arthritic process is unlikely to continue when the leaky gut is sealed.
Bone Broth Benefits
The nutrients found in bone broth are incredibly healing for the body and consuming it on a regular basis is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to improve your gut health.
Bone broth is as a natural source of nutrients like collagen, gelatin, several trace minerals, and anti-inflammatory amino acids, and provides the building blocks for glowing skin, strong bones and joints, improved muscle strength, and tissue repair.
Drinking this health elixir is like filling up your gas tank with premium fuel that can help:
- Improve poor digestion, reduce intestinal inflammation, and improve symptoms of chronic digestive issues, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
- Reduce joint pain and inflammation
- Reduce food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies
- Improve skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Boost immunity
- Strengthen bones and joints, and heal cartilage and tissue
- Promote healthier skin, hair, and nails
- Improve sleep quality
- May improve the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks
- Support the nervous system
- Promote blood sugar balance and improve insulin sensitivity
So, no secrets as to why I am a big fan of bone broth! Here’s a great recipe for you to try at home.
Following a bone broth recipe is easy and simple with few ingredients. All you need is good quality bones, purified water, traditional vegetables, spices and apple cider vinegar.
To make a vegetarian broth, follow the same recipe but exclude the bones.
So, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being perfect), how would you rate your gut function? If you have gut symptoms, act now so you can start to feel better and get back to your life.
Ready to heal your gut?
If you’d like to know more about my gut related programs to treat conditions such as leaky gut, IBS, constipation, SIBO or GAPS Diet protocol or any of the gut health supplements I recommend, contact me today. Get more information on how to become a patient and work together to get you to optimal gut and all-around health.
Serving the Westchester County and Long Island NY area and distance patients via phone or Skype.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this issue.