Are you suffering with any of the following?
1. Bloating, gas, diarrhoea
2. Food allergies or intolerances (often reacting to lots of foods you didn’t have any problem with before)
3. Anxiety, Depression, Mood swings or irritability
4. Skin problems like eczema, rosacea
7. Autoimmune disease
8. Poor memory and concentration
9. Sleep issues (falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up never feeling refreshed).
These are signs you have an unhealthy or imbalanced gut. Did you know a huge 80% of our immune system is located in our gut? This means our gut health is one of the biggest influential factors on our general health and wellbeing.
The Science Bit
The ‘Gut’ is a term used to describe your digestive system, which runs through your whole body starting at your mouth. It is surprisingly made up of 25 feet of strong muscular tubes which bend and twist through your body. It includes the mouth, oesophagus, liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine and large intestine. Each organ plays a role in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, combined with hormonal responses and secretions at each of the different stages.
How does the gut get damaged?
Basically, the gut has a large surface area (particularly the small intestine) made up of little brush like structures called microvilli that help the body absorb nutrients from food. Normally, you should generally absorb 97% of the nutrients from food. However, these microvilli can get damaged or irritated from food allergies or intolerances or inflammatory bowel disease such as IBS. The barrier between the gut and the blood stream becomes less effective, meaning that large food molecules and toxins that would usually be excreted by the digestive system end up causing illness. Some examples of these are:
- inflammation such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- food intolerances
- leaky gut syndrome
- nutrient deficiency
The gut damage and immune response from the body are like a vicious cycle that cause repeated illness and really limit the amount of nutrients you absorb from food. This can only be corrected by controlling or eliminating the issue. The longer the issues go on, the more your body triggers immune reactions to otherwise healthy food.
How can you fix it?
Dr Amy Myers recommends a 4 step process to healing the gut: remove, replace, restore & repair. This healing process is so important to our general health and wellbeing that it is the first port of call for anyone suffering with chronic or inflammatory illness. I incorporate it with all my new clients and as part of my Transform programme for women. As someone who had gallstones very young (and had my gallbladder removed at 21) I know how important it is to heal your gut so that it is helping you achieve optimum health.
The first way to heal your gut is to remove all potential allergens from your diet- the main culprits being dairy, wheat, yeast, gluten, sugar and caffeine as well as anything else you know you are intolerant or allergic to. After discovering I was intolerant to eggs as well as dairy, I saw huge improvements to my health when I removed eggs from my diet. There are tests you can have to determine your food allergies and sensitivities (I had a hair test done, but you can also get blood ones) or alternatively, you can work it out by eliminating the foods for a few weeks then reintroducing them one by one to see how your body reacts.
You need to replace the foods you have removed with good nutrition- whole, unprocessed foods, meat, veg, unrefined carbs, nuts, seeds, fruits etc. Lots of fibre is essential for keeping your gut healthy and for waste elimination and reducing constipation. If this confuses you or leaves you wondering how you can enjoy food, I can help with this. I have loads of gluten, dairy and refined sugar free recipes in my blog and in my Guilt Free Kitchen Club that can help you transition to this way of eating with ease, without feeling deprived of tasty food. I highly recommend adding a digestive enzyme to help your gut break down food whilst it is healing.
You must restore the healthy bacteria in your gut and this can be done by supplementation. Why? Well a healthy balance of good bacteria in your gut can help prevent harmful bacteria and yeast overgrowth, boost your immune system, prevent allergies and prevent inflammatory bowel disease. A course of probiotics which contain a high culture of good bacteria will help you restore the healthy balance of the gut. Ensuring a high fibre diet will also help with this or you can supplement with this superfood gut health blend that is high in soluble fibre and can be easily added into your diet. I like to mix it in a small glass of water and drink it like a shot. This organic fibre blend has an impressive list of superfood ingredients all specially chosen for the huge benefits to your gut health, one of them being psyllium husk (I use this in my superfood donuts-you can get the recipe in my ebook).
Dr Amy Myers says the final stage is to repair the gut by providing it with the essential nutrients it needs to do so. She recommends L-glutamine, zinc, and omega-3 fish oils. Ingesting aloe vera is also renewed for helping reduce inflammation, irritable bowel symptoms and helping digestion.
To summarise: a healthy gut is imperative for optimal digestion, absorption of nutrients and nutrient delivery throughout the body. Diseases, disorders and intolerances can interfere with these bodily processes, and the person gets trapped in a vicious cycle. But don’t panic, you can heal this in 4 stages! If you are experiencing any pain or symptoms that have been mentioned in this article then you should always consult a doctor to rule out anything more serious. Then you can move on to healing the body naturally and holistically with some nutrition changes and a course of natural supplements that really can change your health and your life. If you want any help with this give me a shout.
Love Natasha x
(All the products mentioned in this article are my own or products I have personally researched and tested. I am an affiliate for Neals Yard Organics because I absolutely love them, their ethos and their ethical holistic products made in the UK)