When Naturopath & Nutritionist Kate Johnston of Kore Well-Being studied Naturopathy, one of the catch phrases that was repeated at college was “all disease starts in the gut”. Not only is the digestive system literally the centre of our being, but it truly is central to the entirety of our health. So how can you tell if something isn’t right?
Kate explains the ins and outs of gut health to help you recognise when you might have an inbalance.
Feeling bloated, tired, sluggish and gassy - particularly after eating, but at any time of the day could be a sign
Food intolerances – these can be to common allergens like gluten, dairy, eggs etc, or you may find you start reacting to the foods you eat all the time. This is a BIG indication that there are some imbalances
Irregular or abnormal bowel motions – Just because you have experienced something for a long time doesn’t make it normal. Ideally you should be moving your bowel at least once a day and it should be brown and formed (Google the Bristol Stool Chart if you want to know more!)
Mood changes … yep! That’s right! Studies are being done more and more, recognising the link between the gut and the brain. An imbalanced gut can leave you feeling depressed, anxious, foggy, and has even been associated with learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders
Skin rashes, acne and dandruff – while the bowel is the bodies preferred method of elimination for many toxins, if this is not functioning properly it will start to push things out through the skin. Furthermore, some skin conditions including dandruff, can be indicative that there are unwanted inhabitants in the gut, such as yeast or parasites
Frequent colds, flus and other infections – the majority of the body’s immune system is housed in the digestive tract, so if its defenses are down you will be prone to picking up everything that is going around
So how does your gut tie into all of these areas of health? Imagine your digestive system as actually being outside the body… kind of like a very complex and elongated donut – the gut would be the hole in the middle. When you look at it like this, you realise how important the role actually is. Not only is it deciding what to allow into the body (nutrients, water etc), and at what quantities, but it also decides what to keep out (toxins, excess nutrients, bad bugs). On top of this, it also has the job of eliminating and detoxifying waste material from the body. In short… it is very important!
If these processes start to malfunction you can end up with:
Nutrient deficiencies - this can impact all areas of health
Toxicity – whether from ineffectively eliminated waste material, or improperly absorbed toxins
Inflammation – from constant irritation or reactivity to intolerable foods, chemicals etc
Dysbiosis – which basically means the balance of good and bad gut flora as well as other organisms has gotten out of control
In order to keep your gut happy, it is important to make its job easier on a day-to-day basis.
Chew your food thoroughly - digestion starts in the mouth, and if you are eating in a hurry and not chewing enough, you’re creating more work further down the line
Limit your intake of processed foods – many of the ingredients are unrecognisable and irritating to the body, making them extremely difficult and inflammatory to digest
Incorporate bone broth (homemade stock) into your daily routine - this is full of nourishing minerals, gelatin and amino acids to help soothe and repair the gut
Activate your nuts and seeds – nuts and seeds can be incredibly nutritious and great to snack on, but too many can cause irritation and be difficult to digest. By eating activated nuts and seeds you increase the digestibility as well as the nutrition that your body can absorb. You can even now get tasty raw treats, such as Food To Nourish’s Wow Cacao Bliss Balls that are made with activated nuts.
Take a probiotic or probiotic rich foods - such as miso, sauerkraut (or other fermented vegetables), kefir and kombucha
Most importantly, if your gut instinct tells you that something isn’t quite right, seek the help of your natural health practitioner. With such an important job to do, impacting the entirety of your health and well-being, you want to make sure that it is in tip-top shape!
Have you suffered from any of these symptoms? How do you look after your gut health?