Last year I had the privilege of studying under Andrea Nakayama, a functional nutritionist whom I greatly respect. In my training I learned in great detail how every system in our bodies is affected by the health of our gut. Perhaps you’ve heard rumblings about gut health, (pun intended) but what exactly does it mean?
First of all, what do we mean by the gut? In terms of digestion, your gut is your entire digestive tract, starting at your mouth and ending at your anus. 70% Of your immune system resides in your gut in the form of good bacteria…millions and trillions of bugs called flora. Think of your immune system on a grand scale. I’m not just talking your ability to fight off a cold, but anything that your body may face, from the threat of cancer to autoimmune disease, infectious disease, and depression
All health starts in your gut.
I talk a lot about food, but to quote my mentor Andrea Nakayama, “You are not what you eat, but what your body can do with what you eat. In other words, you are what your body can break down and absorb”
In order to maximize your body’s ability to breakdown and absorb nutrients, your gut health needs to be in order.
And let me tell you about the brain gut connection. As an embryo, your brain and digestive tract are developed as one system. As they develop, they are forever connected by the largest nerve in your body, the vagus nerve. So connected are these two that the gut has been called the second brain by professionals in functional medicine. It’s easy to understand the connection. When you feel excited, you have butterflies in your stomach. When you feel stressed, your stomach is upset. To quote another medical professional whom I deeply respect: “The only difference between the brain and the gut is that the gut has not yet evolved to the state of self-doubt.” – Deepak Chopra.
Some symptoms of an unhealthy gut include:
- Chronic loose bowels
- Cramping, discomfort in the abdomen
- Gas and bloating
- Brain fog
- Anxiety/depression (brain/gut connection!)
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Skin disorders
- Poor sleep
- Autoimmune disease
How to take good care of your gut? None of us are the same, and our unique gut makeup isn’t either, but as a general rule for fostering gut health:
- Avoid sugar, refined carbs and all processed foods.
- Fill up on fiber with a rainbow of fruit and veggies.
- Load up on probiotic food and drink: fermented veggies like Kim chi and sauerkraut, and beverages like kombucha and kefir.
- Eat your prebiotics – food for gut flora like apples, asparagus, onion, garlic, and leeks.
- Be cognizant of over-the-counter and prescription drug use as they alter your natural gut flora, especially antibiotics.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle: sleep, hydrate and manage stress.
This is the tip of the iceberg my friends. Stick with me for recipes, tips and more info on creating your best gut health.
In Love and Good Health,
*Disclaimer: This content is accurate and true to my knowledge. I am a professional on this topic, but I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this content is for informational purposes only. Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.