If you asked me to name the essential components of staying healthy, my answer would be:
1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep daily
2. Maintain a healthy stress level
3. Actively keep a positive mindset
4. Ensure healthy digestion / gut health
5. Ensure daily intentional movement / exercise
Managing Stress, Mindset, Sleep and Movement are somewhat obvious choices.
But why is gut health and healthy digestion so important? There are two really important reasons.
First, 60-80% of your immune system lies in your gut. Clearly a healthy immune system is crucial to stay well.
Second, your digestion and gut health are integral to proper functioning hormones as well as managing inflammation in the body. Hormone problems and inflammation contribute to, or are the cause of conditions such as:
- Anxiety & Depression
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Bone Diseases
- Candida overgrowth
- Chron’s Disease
- Heart Disease
- Hormonal Imbalances & Fertility challenges
- Irritable Bowel System
- Skin issues / poor skin
- Thyroid Disorders
- Ulcerative colitis
- Unwanted Weight Gain and Weight Loss
Over time, when your digestion isn’t taken care of properly, you are more likely to have intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut.
Leaky gut is when the waste that should be channeled out of your body (through your poop) leaks through your intestines into where it shouldn’t be. Lovely, right? It gets better. Then, your body’s immune system responds by attacking it, causing inflammation.
How to Ensure a Healthy Gut / Healthy Digestion
1. Improve the quality of the food you eat. Eat whole, real foods (aka things your great grandmother would recognize as food). If you already do that, then amp up the non-starchy vegetable content in each meal, and work on eating the highest quality meats and seafoods you can afford. Ideally, you’ll eliminate most of the packaged foods from your diet and rely on things that can be found in the meat/seafood/produce and bulk sections that are in the outer sections of your store.
2. If you suffer from one of the above issues, eliminate all forms of wheat and grains until you have healed. Time and time again, I have seen people (including myself) heal serious gut dysfunction this way. Once you’ve healed, you can usually start to add back in some non-wheat based grains like rice and corn (as long as they don’t bother you). However, for about a year or two, I recommend that people cut grains completely out.
3. Similarly, I recommend you eliminate dairy until you have healed your digestion. Once you’ve healed, I’ve found that most people can tolerate raw, unpasteurized dairy (although it’s still illegal in many states) and hard raw cheeses, if not a reintroduction of full dairy.
4. Reduce stress in any way possible. I stopped running long distances for this reason. Maybe for you it’s creating more down time in your day or eliminating toxic relationships in your life. Whatever it is, reducing stress will help your gut.
5. Ensure you have enough stomach acid. Most people think stomach acid is a bad thing, but your stomach acid is what breaks down food into usable nutrients. If you have acid reflux, it’s a clear sign you don’t have enough stomach acid. Supplement with high quality digestive enzymes, and if necessary, an HCL supplement for severe cases.
6. Take a daily high quality B vitamin. B vitamins support enzyme production, hormone balance, and you immune system.
7. Take a daily high quality probiotic. Probiotics ensure that the usable nutrients that you have in your gut are assimilated into your body. I believe everyone should be on a high quality probiotic.
8. Take a daily high quality DHA/EPA supplement. This can be in the form of a fish oil, a fermented cod liver oil, or whole foods like sardines.
The process of healing your gut will take months, if not years. However, if you implement these steps, you will see big positive changes in the first month. Once you get used to eating this way, most people see benefits they didn’t even know were related to their gut.
If you need help with any of these issues, reach out to me. Or, if you would like specific supplement recommendations based on your needs, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook.
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