Gut health is a huge key to immunity and overall health. You may be saying, “I have this little tummy ache all the time. But I am healthy, beyond that.” I’m willing to say that IF you have that little tummy ache all the time, your immunity and overall health is sending up an emergency signal.
Many experts call the gut (or digestive system) “The Second Brain” in the body. You know how the brain controls many of the automatic processes and systems in the body? You don’t? These systems are controlled by the brain:
- Respiratory System
- Musculoskeletal System
- Digestive System
- Excretory System
- Reproductive System
- Endocrine System
- Integumentary System (skin)
- Endocrine System
- Cardiovascular System
- Nervous System
Oh Yes! I remember those body systems from my Biology Class!
GOOD! Well….IF you want ALL those systems to function at their peak, you need the gut, or digestive system to be happy and healthy.
Gut Health Is Like A Well-Run Community
Take time to imagine a wonderful hometown community. It may be your hometown, or it may be a fictional town. Picture this setting on a bustling weekday, with lots of happy people on the sidewalks, They are all running errands and going to their jobs in Main Street storefronts.
This scene is very much like the scene in your gut, all happening on a microscopic level. The gut’s microscopic community is called The Microbiome. It’s here that trillions of microorganisms, called microbiota/microbes live. There are thousands of species of these microbes, which include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses.
Whoa! So I can have bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses in my stomach, and actually be healthy?!
Yes! The gut community, or microbiome is a happy community, where all the bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses coexist happily. Once the Gut Microbiome community runs in a happy, healthy way, it brings a positive effect to other communities, or body systems. Gut Health is called a supporting organ, because it has such a huge positive role in helping all the body systems/communities run efficiently.
Gut Health Requires A Perfect Balance
Our gut microbiome contains microbes that are both helpful and potentially harmful. Most microbes are beneficial to the entire body. A smaller amount of microbes are unhealthy, pathogenic, and can cause disease.
The healthy body has a gut community where the healthy and unhealthy microbes coexist without problems.
HOWEVER, when that perfect balance of coexistence tips, like a teeter totter, the body becomes much more susceptible to disease.
What Causes An Imbalance In Gut Health?
Here are ways the teeter totter of the gut microbiome becomes imbalanced:
- Poor diet
- Contracting an infectious illness
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
- Long-term use of medications that destroy gut bacteria
THIS is when the imbalance can easily allow the gut and other body systems to become weak and then they ALL fail to function at their best ability. Consider this – the Respiratory, Musculoskeletal, Digestive, Excretory, Reproductive, Endocrine, Integumentary System (skin), Endocrine, Cardiovascular and Nervous System are then compromised.
Now Back To The Happy Community Idea
Our perfect community has perfect roads and highways that we will call Microbiota. These roads stimulate the hometown economy, meaning it stimulates our immune system. When optimized the Microbiota can absorb sugar and lactose (from milk) and carry them to the upper small intestine. The starches and fibers are transported to lower to the large intestine.
The Microbiota break down these food compounds with their special enzymes. The lower intestines produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA), that can aid the body in preventing chronic diseases such as cancers and bowel disorders (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and diarrhea associated with using antibiotics).
Similar to the way roads can stimulate a hometown economy, Microbiota stimulates the immune system, breaks down potentially toxic food compounds, and produces amino acids and vitamins (Vitamins B and K). Did you know that key enzymes needed to form Vitamin B12 are only found in bacteria? Vitamin B12 is not found in plant or animal food sources.
Microbiota helps us stay healthy by providing protection from dangerous pathogenic organisms that we are exposed to through drinking or eating contaminated water and food. We are exposed to these pathogens MUCH more frequently than we’d like to admit.
What Can We Do To Improve Our Health?
If we look for just one important action that improves our gut health, it is to improve our diet. Here are simple steps to a healthy gut microbiome:
- Reduce high sugar foods: Be aware that sugar is hidden in MANY foods that we don’t suspect
- Reduce foods that are high in saturated and trans fats: red meat, dairy products, baked goods and fried foods.
- Avoid foods that you KNOW can upset your stomach and gut.
- Eat lots of fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables. Fiber from fresh produce contributes to gut health in a huge way.
Consider whether probiotic supplements will help. Cybele shows how you can decide if you need supplements.
Select lean protein for meat sources: more chicken and lean red meat help the gut maintain that happy balance in the gut community.
These steps are simple. Yet it can be challenging to live out, with all the commercial food products promoted in our society.
“Every day we live and every meal we eat we influence the great microbial organ inside us – for better or for worse.”― Giulia Enders
We really must run our food choices through a mental checklist before we eat. It takes a bit of getting used to, yet it becomes more automatic as we practice this habit. It is a very important way to move into A Happy Healthy Life.
I love to help you to Enjoy Your Healthy Life!
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