Why You Should Heal Your Gut
Healing my gut has been one of the most important parts of my healing journey over the past 3 years and it has literally been life-changing.
The gut microbiome (or gut garden or gut flora) is the diverse community of bacteria that lives in our digestive system. Just like the soil of a garden needs to have the right mix of nutrients and nourishment – so does our gut!
Our gut needs to have the right balance of ‘flora’ and nourishment to keep our overall system working to its full capacity. With around 70% of our immune function found in the gut, it is no surprise that having a balanced healthy ‘gut flora’ provides us with improved health and increases our body’s ability to fight off diseases, inflammation, bacteria, and viruses.
An unhealthy, unbalanced gut garden can result in ‘leaky gut’ (intestinal permeability in the medical science world). This occurs when the intestinal lining (which usually acts as a barrier) becomes inflamed and permeable (leaky). This then allows substances like food proteins and bacteria to pass through, into your bloodstream which results in your immune system becoming ‘activated’.
Some of the factors that can alter your gut garden and make it ‘leaky,’ include diet, antibiotics, infections, stress, early childhood experience, genes, yeasts, and toxins.
A leaky gut can lead to inflammation throughout your body which has been attributed to a variety of symptoms including:
Digestive issues – discomfort, bowel problems etc.
Although gut health research is still in its infancy, there is increasing evidence to show that maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria and yeasts in the gut can help improve digestive health, boost the immune system, improve mental health and reduce the risk of disease.
Changes and imbalances in the gut structure, particularly in genetically susceptible individuals, has been implicated with an increased risk of a variety of conditions such as autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, and IBS. Some findings even indicate that changes in our gut bacteria can influence our mood and brain function.
Let’s just not skip over that paragraph above. This is BIG. Although much of the research is still new, the current studies, coupled with my own trial and error, is evidence enough to ensure my family’s gut health is optimized.
This comes from a personal place because I was a healthy kid, born vaginally, without any allergies or health issues. But by my formative years, I had learning disabilities in the form of "ADD"/"ADHD" and just low cognitive function. By my teens, I also developed digestive dysfunction. By my early twenties, I also developed allergies and an autoimmune disease.
This tells me a couple of things…
First, that our gut garden is a unique environment, that is not stable and has the ability to malfunction under the right (or wrong shall we say) set of circumstances.
Secondly, it tells me that due to the gut's ability to change, we also have the power to positively alter our gut health and improve our overall wellbeing.
The easiest and most influential way that we can alter our gut garden is through the foods we eat.
I didn’t want anyone to head down a similar path as I did, and for that reason, I now try to ensure that everyone's gut garden is healthy and balanced.
Although I know that I cannot control all of the environmental exposure that could affect my health, I can ensure that I am eating gut supporting foods.
My diet and lifestyle really revolve around gut health as a way of optimizing overall health. I’m also not saying that I eat like a 100% certified organic queen who sits on their throne of optimal health all the time.
Sometimes I don't. I have a balanced real-world perspective and follow the idea that what I do most of the time determines my overall health. So that means that I indulge if I want to and I don’t beat ourselves up about that. It’s about balance. I honestly believe that as human beings, we are all doing our best with what we know in this life. There is no need to add extra overwhelm.
So in this life, we should all strive for balance and just try to ensure that the majority of the time I am eating real, whole, preservative-free foods that support gut health. By eating this way, I can keep my body well nourished and healthy – and the gut gardens balanced.
I now refuse to allow my health diagnoses to disempower me… and I really feel empowered by the fact that I can actually play a positive active role in my own health.