The one thing that has been missing from discussions and education about healthy lifestyles is the how critical it is to heal your gut & make sure it stays that way!
There is more and more research suggesting that a “leaky gut” could be the underlying cause of many diseases that face modern humans and that it can perpetuate inflammation in the body that wreaks havoc on general health & well-being.  In order to discuss this further, we need to start with some basics.
The basics:

1)                    The gut is essentially a long tube that forms a 
barrier to the outside word that selectively allows
penetration of essential nutrients, vitamins, etc… that
we need to survive and thrive. Many hormones are
secreted by the gut and interestingly these hormones
can have both peripheral and central effects.
2)                      As mothers approach birth their
vaginal population change in order to expose the baby
to as many good bacteria as possible – this is evidenced
by lower numbers of good bacteria in the guts of children
from c-section birth.
3)                      The gut houses approximately 100 trillion 
bacteria and this population of bacteria is around 10 times 

that amount of human cells present in our body (3.72 x1013)-
this number is so great that it’s becoming more apparent that 

these bacteria might be able to stimulate us to do what they want
(i.e. Food cravings/choices like carbohydrate cravings or PICA).

4)                      Gut flora promote normal GI function, provide protection from infection, regulates metabolism & comprises more than 75% of our immune system.
Our modern lifestyles put us at risk for lowering the good bacteria normally colonizing our guts. Chris Kresser outlines these in his blog:
·            Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs
·            Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
·            Diets low in fermentable fibers
·            Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut
·            Chronic stress
·            Chronic infections
Antibiotic therapy will essentially hit the reset button on our good bacteria, indiscriminately wiping them out. It then becomes critical that we repopulate our gut with beneficial bacteria and that’s where I believe most of us including Western Medicine practitioners drop the ball.
If the intestinal barrier becomes permeable (leaky gut), large protein molecules escape into the bloodstream that normally would not have penetrated. Since these proteins are not recognized by the body, the body mounts an immune response to them and attacks them. Studies show that these attacks can play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s, Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and more. This immune response brought on by “leaky gut” has been shown to affect not only the gut itself, but also other organs including the skeletal system, pancreas, kidney, liver and the brain. Additionally, it’s been shown that “leaky gut” can manifest problems in the skin and heart.
What you can do to make sure your Gut stays healthy?

  1. Eliminate exposure to toxic substances in food.   Substances to try to avoid:
    • Cereal grains (especially refined flour)
    • Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, etc.)
    • Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup)
    • Processed soy (soy milk, soy protein, soy flour, etc.)
  2. FODMAPs intolerance – Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols – these are short-chain carbohydrates that are incompletely absorbed in the gut & can be easily fermented by Gut bacteria – the fermentation & osmosis caused by these undigested sugars cause major IBS symptoms such as gas, pain & diarrhea.
  3. Use Fermented foods including Sauerkraut, Kimchi & Kefir, etc…
  4. Use high-quality, mutli-species probiotic supplement after antibiotic use.
  5. Manage your stress – Lots of research links gut health with emotional health & well-being!

    There’s so much more that could be discussed, but I’ll leave that to the experts.  If you’re interested in having a full assessment done on the state of your gut health, track down a good functional medicine doctor in your area who can help you handle this.  Two sites that can help you are the Paleo physicians network & Primal Docs.

Until next time, make sure you’re taking care of your gut & the Trillions of bacteria in it, and in turn, they will take care of you!

Dan T

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