Your Digestive System & Its Vital Role in Your Health

OUR INTESTINAL TRACT…
THE REAL BRAIN OF THE BODY

Our digestive system refers to the stomach and intestines, and is divided into the upper and lower gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. Almost everything we experience in our body, good or bad, is a result from what happens is going on the gut. Smithsonianmag.com states “The microbiome is complex, varied, ever changing and context-dependent — qualities that are the enemies of easy categorization. “Healthy” microbes can easily turn rogue. Those in our guts are undoubtedly helpful, but if they cross the lining of the intestine and enter our bloodstream, they can trigger a debilitating immune response. The same microbes can be beneficial allies or dangerous threats, all for the difference of a few millimeters.” “Although correlations have been noted between the composition of the gut microbiome and behavioural conditions, especially autism, neuroscientists are only now starting to understand how gut bacteria may influence the brain.”

The GI tract needs a healthy balance of intestinal/gut flora, which is the necessary balance of both good and bad bacteria (we have trillions in our gut). If that balance is “off,” we will have side effects that come in many forms and symptoms and vary from person to person. There is a lot of science coming out showing the relationship between our gut health and allergies.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to tip the scale towards a healthier gut. Finding that balance is the key. If you find that you are dealing with some frustrating health issues, then know that you absolutely can heal yourself, but you first must learn to listen to your body. Trust that your body was created to be well and that it can handle more than we give it credit for.

Running to the doctor every time you or your child spikes a fever, many times results in a prescription written for antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off the “bad” bacteria offering quick results, but it also kills all the good bacteria along with the bad, resulting in bigger issues down the road. Most of our illnesses that we take antibiotics for simply need time. Our body creates the fever to kill the bacteria, so allow it to take its course.

Antibiotics absolutely have value and are sometime necessary to knock out an infection, but give the body time before taking an antibiotic. See if it can be resolved on its own. If we kill off all the good bacteria, then the body struggles to heal itself from there on out also resulting in a weakened immune system. if you end put taking antibiotics, then definitely take a good probiotic to help restore that bacterial balance in the gut.

Foodmatters.tv writes, “…the gut harbors more than six hundred and forty different species of bacteria, contains over twenty different hormones, digests and absorbs the vast majority of nutrients, and accounts for twenty percent of body energy expenditure.”

Reducing your sugar intake, consuming more dietary fibre, including more anti-inflammatory healthy fats such as avocados, and increasing antioxidant rich foods will help to eliminate bad bacteria. Probiotic and fibre-rich foods and an abundance of fresh vegetables, including leafy greens will sweep out bad bacteria from your system and have an alkalizing effect on the magical universe within, promoting a healthy gut flora balance.

Secondly, it’s important to rest your tummy twice a week. This is not about starving yourself for two days, but rather allowing your gut to repair while consuming a delicious array of healthy soups and smoothies that not only fill you up but also provide you with beneficial vitamins and minerals. Giving the digestive system a rest a couple of times a week is not rocket science and it will help to fast track your gut lining rebuilding.

The third step to healing and sealing your gut is to improve your intestinal walls. In our unhealthy modern lifestyle, gut permeability or ‘leaky gut’ is becoming a common problem. This involves the breaking down of the intestinal walls; creating ‘holes’ which allow large protein molecules to escape into the body. This may allow waste matter such as bacteria, fungus, parasites and their toxins, and undigested protein to enter your bloodstream. Having these toxins in the blood can cause allergies and multiple chemical sensitivities.”

 

HOW TO HEAL YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

 

BONE BROTH & GELATIN

Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, a nutrition scientist, certified clinical nutritionist, and co-author of Nourishing Broths states, “We have science that supports the use of cartilage, gelatin, and other components found in homemade bone broth to prevent and sometimes even reverse osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, digestive distress, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.”

Bone broth is just another name for stock from chicken or beef. It is made by boiling the bones of healthy animals along with vegetables, herbs and spices as being optional. It is easy to make, but you can also buy quality broth. (Recipe coming soon). Aside from being an amazing source of minerals, it has a very high collagen (gelatin) content and does wonders for your skin, bones, teeth, joints, nails, hair, and also supports smooth connective tissue and even cellulite.

It has been known to help with allergies, boost the immune system, improve digestion, and help heal Leaky Gut Syndrome. The high gelatin content in broth can help heal ulcers, diabetes, infectious diseases, and be very beneficial for those with cancer. I have also read that it can be very helpful for people with Autism and ADHD, which I will eagerly share as I learn more on that topic.

If bone broth is not an option, start buying gelatin and add it to your smoothies, ice cream, or try making your own jello (you could buy jello, but the ingredients are all artificial so you are better off making your own with juice and gelatin). Here is a healthy grass-fed gelatin (click link) source if you are interested in purchasing.

 

PROBIOTICS

I highly, highly recommend taking a probiotic supplement upwards of 20 billion bacteria per serving and with as many different strains of bacteria as you can find. Probiotics will introduce good bacteria back  into your digestive system, recovering that crucial balance, and is miraculous in keeping illness away and helping your body digest and function properly.

You can find probiotics at any health food store, but keep it refrigerated!  I love the Vitamin Shoppe (very reasonably priced compared to steep health food store prices) and was told by the owner that of all the probiotics they have delivered, Garden of Life is the ONLY brand that delivers them cold! These are living bacteria and if not kept alive, it does you no good.

Some are created to be shelf stable and can be purchased online such as this probiotic supplement (click link), and there are also “enteric coated” options that helps the bacteria survive thought the stomach acid and into the gut where it does its work. I have seen mixed messages on this and have seen proof that non-enteric work beautifully.

It is ok to take days/months off from taking any supplement, and for probiotics, it is good to mix it up a bit. Take a few different kinds, either buying a few different kinds at the same time and switch up what you take on certain days. Each time you need to replenish, buy a different kind since the bacteria will establish themselves and you do not need to overdue it.

Check out this UCLA study about how changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function.

 

FERMENTED FOODS

Fermented foods aid in adding healthy bacteria back into our gut. Sauerkraut, full-fat Greek style yogurt, Kimchi, Kefir, aged cheeses, pickles, olives, and Kombucha are just a few examples. Most commercial sauerkraut, pickles, and such are pasteurized and preserved in vinegar instead of the traditional lactobacterial solution which is essential for beneficial bacteria to be present. Making your own is easy and ensures a quality food that will be beneficial to your gut (recipe coming soon).

 

CABBAGE

Cabbage is a natural probiotic, and is especially beneficial if fermented.

 

RAW FRUITS & VEGETABLES

 

L-GLUTAMINE

Glutamine, also known as L-glutamine, is an amazing amino acid that has the ability to heal soft tissue like the lining of your intestines. It is very good for improving the health and integrity of your gut.

 

HEALTHY FATS & OILS

  • Coconut Oil – I use coconut oil almost exclusively. Try to get one that is organic, unbleached and unrefined, but almost any brand is fine and highly beneficial regardless of those terms. It does not oxidize like other oils and can withstand high temps without oxidizing. It is one of the most medicinal foods around.
  • Olive oil is best used at low temps or added after the high heat cooking portion is almost over. For non-stick purposes you are better off using a coconut oil.
  • Flax Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Ghee
  • Butter – Use REAL butter. No margarine, Parkay, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, etc., as those are chemical laden. I will be posting more in depth information on butter choices and saturated fats.
  • No Vegetable, Canola, Soybean or Crisco – offer zero health benefits.

 

SEEDS & NUTS

Get as many different variety of seeds and nuts as you can into your diet. Sprinkle on salads for some extra crunch, or top your oatmeal and yogurt.

For all health issues, if you have never kept a food journal to determine which foods are triggering which symptoms, then that is an absolute must. You are wasting precious time, energy, and probably money if you have not done this essential step towards healing yourself. See how to keep a simple food journal here, and read about my personal experience with this simple tool.

If you are experiencing serious health issues, then please, make drastic changes to your diet and eat as many whole, raw foods as possible such as fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Eat healthy fats and oils such as ghee, coconut oil, and real butter. Use a healthy salt like Pink Himalayan salt. Visit my Ingredients 101 guide for more specific information on what ingredients to look for and incorporate into your diet, and which foods could be causing you harm.

To purchase any of the ingredients discussed in this post, click on the highlighted links. To see the entire Wholesome Style Store, loaded with some of my favorite products, click here.

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but Wholesome Style will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and allows me to continue to inspire and encourage better health for you and yours.

 

Google+