Where is your gut?
The mouth is actually the first part of the gut. When we eat food, it passes down the gullet into the stomach and then into the small intestine. The small intestine is where food is digested and absorbed by the bloodstream. After that it proceeds into the large intestine, also known as the colon, and the final part of the colon leads on to the rectum, where waste products are stored until they are excreted.
Simply put, that is your gastrointestinal tract – and your gut!
Why is good gut health so important?
More than 2000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, announced that all diseases begin in the gut. Of course, he was way ahead of his time, and not many in those days understood or appreciated what he meant. Research has proved just how right he was, and revealed that gut health is critical to general good health. Studies have also shown that poor gut health contributes to diseases which include diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, and depression.
Several aspects of our modern day lifestyle may directly contribute to the unhealthy gut problem. Here are some of them:
Antibiotics, birth control and non-steroid anti-inflammatories, as well as some other medications.
Diets high in sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods of every description.
Diets low in fiber.
Chronic stress and chronic infections.
Symptoms of an unhealthy gut.
Excessive gas and abdominal bloating.
Heartburn and/or acid reflux.
Digestive problems related to what you eat.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Lower abdomen pain.
The colon, and the bowel, is a breeding place for stealthy problems which may not become apparent until the ailment is reasonably far advanced. If you have at least one or more of the above, it could a sign that your gut health needs urgent attention. Get it checked out by a medical practitioner
The dangers of an unhealthy gut. An unhealthy gut leads to many disorders which affect the colon’s ability to function properly. It can make you vulnerable to developing some serious ailments.
Here are some of the major problems which could attack you:
Polyps in the colon which can become cancerous.
Ulcers of the colon and rectum.
Irritable bowel syndrome which will not clear up.
Poor immune system function.
Chronic skin problems.
Chronic digestive troubles.
Type 2 diabetes.
All of these illnesses are serious, and it is possible that some may lead to long-term, permanent damage to your health if you ignore the symptoms and do not take care of your intestinal tract. How do maintain a healthy gut you may ask? Your diet plays a huge part in promoting and maintaining the health of this vital organ.
Foods which help to restore intestinal health:
The famous yogurt, a probiotic known globally for providing healthy gut bacteria.
Cultured soy yogurt for the lactose intolerant, which is also fortified with vitamin D and calcium to give the same benefit as dairy yogurt.
Fermenting products such as pickles and kefir, which come with built-in probiotics and beneficial bacteria.
Sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, may not be the tastiest vegetable around, but is loaded with beneficial gut bacteria. Farmhouse Culture has one of my favorites!
Researchers at the Louisiana State University recently found that dark chocolate is fermented in the stomach into anti-inflammatory compounds which are beneficial to both the gut, and the heart.
Bananas, lentils and asparagus are also powerful probiotics.
Lean meat and skinless chicken are excellent as well.
One of the best ways to maintain gut health is to combine a good-quality probiotic supplement with your diet, and take it on a daily basis. Get one with at least 50-85 billion and be sure to rotate the strains every few months. Garden of Life has a variety of great ones that are very affordable too!
Foods to avoid:
All sugars and refined foods made from flour, including processed foods.
High fat meats and fried food, even the popular French fries!
Chilli peppers, which give chronic heartburn and negatively affect IBS.
Alcohol, which is full of sugar and high in acid.
Caffeine rich drinks like tea and coffee, sodas and energy drinks. Opt for decaf if you do want to have coffee – and no sugar of course!
The lactose intolerant folk must also avoid full-fat dairy products which will aggravate the bowel and cause inflammation.
Manage your stress.
If your lifestyle is stressful, take some steps to manage and reduce your stress for your gut’s sake! Stress itself cannot cause stomach ulcers or chronic bowel disease, but if are stressed by events in your life, it can cause the colon to react in a way which may at times give you diarrhea or constipation. Try and handle your stress in a responsible way, and never over indulge on junk foods to make yourself feel better. It can negatively affect other digestive diseases and make everything in the gut worse.
You can cure yourself of many ailments which affect your daily life. The power of probiotics, and a healthy diet rooted in gut-healing foods can make this possible and restore your health from the inside out.