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Why Gut Health Holds the Key to Overall Health

February 1, 2022 BY Unbun Foods

by Cait Mizzi, CFNP

The human digestive tract is home to trillions of microorganisms. It is a complex ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites, collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. Incredibly, these microbes possess 100 times more DNA than what is found in the rest of the human body, making us more microbial than human!

“People have co-evolved with environmental bacteria (that have) adapted over eons to being at home in human bodies. The present-day result is that our metabolism, our neurons and indeed our entire physiology is an interactive cross-talk with the bacteria in our bodies” said Bruce R. Stevens, professor of physiology and functional genomics in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The health of the gut microbiota is closely connected to the overall health and functionality of the digestive tract, the immune system, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, skeletal system, the brain and skin. Two-thirds of the body’s immune system resides in the gut. 95% of the body’s “feel-good” hormone serotonin is produced not in the brain, but in the gut. Without a healthy gut microbiome, overall health is truly impossible.

While there isn’t one “normal” microbiome for humans, the growing body of research indicates that specific species and patterns in colonization are beneficial and linked to better health outcomes throughout all stages and phases of life.

Any impairment in our gut means that our overall health is compromised. To have a highly functioning immune system, depends on the functionality of the digestive tract. To feel excellent overall, our microbiome must be diverse and robust.

10 Factors That Disrupt the Gut Microbiome:

  • Antibiotics
  • Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Naproxen, etc.)
  • C-Section births
  • Chronic stress
  • Low stomach acid
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Excess sugar consumption
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Chronic infection
  • Travel

How Can You Tell if Your Gut Isn’t Healthy?

  • Bloating after meals
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Frequent constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Mood disorders
  • Any skin condition (psoriasis, eczema, acne)
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disease
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

When considering the health of our gut, there are many factors to consider. What we eat has a very direct impact, since what we eat, our microbes also eat. Research suggests that negative changes in the gut microbiota due to unhealthy lifestyle factors and poor nutrition contribute to a broad spectrum of disease; diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, severe depression and anxiety.

Supporting the health of your gut microbiome through a thoughtful and nutrient dense diet is a great place to begin. Removing highly processed foods like industrial seed oils, refined flours, and limiting both sugar and alcohol. While adding in gut-healing foods like bone broth, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, natto and kefir as well as getting soluble fiber from whole-food sources, will help to set the wheels in motion (see Top 10 Grain-Free, Low-Carb, High-Fiber Foods).

If you are experiencing gut related health issues that feel uncomfortable or concerning, it is best to seek the guidance of a licensed and credentialed health practitioner for proper testing, diagnostics and interventions.