When it comes to gut health, a lot of us have been lead to believe a happy belly is as simple as putting a little yogurt in our smoothies or keeping up the weekly kombucha ritual.
While I can certainly get down with some fizzy ferments and extra kraut on my veggie dog, there are a lot of factors that go into gut health beyond the surface of this season’s trendy probiotic eats.
So why should we delve deeper into the state of our gut?
A functioning immune system relies on the help of our microbiome.
‘Microbial health is one of the factors that determines who survives potentially deadly viruses. The very young, who’s micro biome is still developing, and the very old who have fewer microbial species tend to be most vulnerable’ – Robynne Chutkan, The Microbiome Solution’
Common colds? Infections? Unexplained Allergies?
Our body has an amazing ability to shield constant incoming attacks with the help of our trusty immune system, and wouldn’t ya know 80% of our immune system lies in our gut.
Among many other duties, microorganisms assist the immune system in differentiating friend from foe who enters our body, (say, a contaminated piece of chicken versus an almond) which is why keeping a proper balance of ‘the good guys’ is key to staying healthy.
The microbiota that take up residence our gut and body have the important task of communicating with immune defences, and whether the interactions are optimal or misdirected is highly effected by the the type of bacteria hanging around.
So not only is our microbiome dictating when your immune system responds, but how it responds. It is the master mind behind everything from the severity of your sniffles to the length of your food poisoning in Mexico.
And you thought your boss was pushy.
Everyday modern exposures are at war with your gut.
- Birth control pills
- NSAID’s (advil, tylenol, motrin)
- artificial sweeteners
- antacids (Tums, Gaviscon, Pepsid)
- refined sugars
What these all have in common is their ability to displace the healthy bacteria in our gut, leaving more room for an imbalance of the bad guys to get comfortable.
Think of it as being in a small hot tub with a max. capacity of 12 people. If 4 of your cool-mannered friends leave to go get a drink, it’s leaving an welcome space for those rowdy frat boys to settle in.
While counterintuitive, Antibiotics in particular can actually make you more prone to infection because of their unrelenting ability to devastate essential bacteria along with the bad.
Alcohol and refined sugar are prime nourishment for unhealthy microbes in your gut, and consuming them allows them to become overgrown and contributes to dysbiosis and candida.
Antacids are also deceivingly used to help with acid reflux, but in the long term disturb stomach acid levels which is our main allies against dangerous bacteria that enters the body. Drugs that block the production of acid change the environment in the stomach to a friendly feeding frenzy for unhealthy bacteria. This is usually when we our body gives us signs of bacteria overgrowth or dybiosis, such as bloating, gas, nausea. (Often mistaken for signs of too MUCH stomach acid)
your gut doesn’t forgive easily.
What you are dealing with today could be a result of your past circumstance, diet, or lifestyle, and may need to be adressed head-on with a nutritional protocol to get your body back in sweet harmony.
A lot of times, unexplained symptoms like allergies, digestive problems and skin conditions are stemming from early antibiotic use, medication or viruses. The open fire on your welcome bacteria, and resulting intestinal imbalance can leave your immune system sluggish or misdirected- and we want that army on point!
Lucky for us, if we are eating a deliciously clean diet of whole fruits and vegetables, high quality fats, lean protein and minimizing our intake of sugar, processed foods and alcohol, our gut is already our biggest cheerleader.
That being said, If you still taking birth control pills, or are in the pattern of taking over the counter pain medication like advil or tylenol- consider discussing healthy alternatives that will be good to your body in the long run with your health care practitioner.
Tune in for my next post on food and supplements that will optimize your gut health!