Gut Health And How It Can Help To Prevent Disease
You may have been hearing a lot about gut health. The Johns Hopkins Medical Center website, one of the most respected hospitals in the United States, says that hidden within the walls of your digestive systems is what is known as “your second brain,” and it is changing the way we look at the links between the gut and mood, digestion, health and even the way you think.
Does all disease begin with gut health? It is one part of the picture. There are other variables such as environment, nutrition, and genetics. But many diseases do begin in the gut. We can do something to prevent some of these diseases. Three easy steps are listed below.
1. Know what the Second Brain is and Why it Matters
The “second brain” is called the “Enteric Nervous System” (ENS), and it comprises 2 thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells that line your GI tract from your esophagus to your rectum. The role of the ENS is to communicate with your brain to control digestion, including swallowing, releasing of enzymes that break down food and the control of blood flow, which helps with nutrient absorption and elimination of waste.
This explains why when you have an unhealthy gut, the symptoms can be manifested in other parts of your body. The body is trying to tell you that something is wrong or out of balance. Studies have found that increase your gut health can lead to improvements in:
Immune function: at least 80% of your immune system is located in your gut
Emotional health: depression, sadness, anger, etc.
Toxin levels in the body
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other bowel issues (constipation, diarrhea, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Our bodies are filled with bacteria - good and bad. Within the gut, this is called the microbiome. The key is to have more good than bad bacteria in the gut. You may have heard about probiotics, the good bacteria. They help you to do things like digest food, absorb nutrients, break down medications, and kill some of the bad bacteria that lead to infection.
Then how is this possible for the Gut to affect mood? The ENS may sense things our brain cannot. Evidence shows that when the GI tract is irritated, it sends signal to the central nervous system that can affect mood.
2. Eat More Probiotics
There are quite a few ways to get probiotics, but one of the easiest is to take a probiotic supplement (positivelywell.com/shop). There are many different kinds, and I can recommend some good ones. Quality does matter. There are also some foods that are high in probiotics.
Unpasteurized cheese – Gouda, Cheddar, provolone, and gruyere are some examples
Buttermilk – organic, grass-fed is best (my favorite)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Laugher really is the best medicine. It helps to reduce stress and floods your body with the happy hormones and chemical that make the good bacteria overtake the bad. There was even a study you can read here where researchers had the participants watch funny movies daily for one week. In only one week, the patients’ gut flora had changed and resembled the healthy participants.
3. Play in the Dirt
This may sound counterintuitive, but it can be beneficial to expose yourself to the outside, gardening, exercising or any activity that introduces your body to the microorganism that are found on the plants and in the ground. And, using so many antibacterial products like hand sanitizer, etc. can actually kill good bacteria at the same time you are killing bad.
Studies have shown that kids who grow up with a dog have both a lower risk of allergies and a healthier immune system, so they don’t get sick. Dogs are associated with a type of house dust that actually exposes them to important strains of bacteria. And, they are often outside and help us to be exposed to some of the bacteria from the ground and on plants.
A large part of maintaining good health is maintaining good gut health. Some of the easiest ways are to know what gut health is and why it’s important, eat probiotic-rich food/and or take supplements (postivelywell.com/shop), manage stress, and don’t over-sterilize and kill all bacteria.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease