Mind Your Gut! Why Your Tummy is Making You Sick & How to Fix It
Do you eat healthy, exercise well and still struggle to lose weight?
Do you feel bloated, experience flatulence, stomach cramps and increased sensitivity to certain foods?
Do you eat healthy and still have poor skin and hair health?
Is the colour of your tongue white?
All of these could be because of the health of your gut!
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said "All disease begins in the gut!” That’s because around 80% of immunity resides in it. Necessary functions like digestion, absorption, detoxification and neurotransmission all take place in the gut. Also, what’s going on in your gut affects the functioning of brain and vice-versa.
A troubled gut health has connections with Alzheimer’s, brain cancer, epilepsy, seizures, attention deficient disorders and certain types of autism. That is how crucial its health is!
So How Does the GUT work?
The intestinal walls are like fishnets. The digested food particles on reaching intestine are selectively absorbed through the fishnet and allowed to enter the blood circulation. These absorbed nutrients along with oxygen are then circulated to those billions of cells in the body.
Now when we eat too fast and not allow a proper mastication, large particles of food enter our stomach.
This results in a much smaller surface area for stomach acids to work upon. As a result of which, food is still undigested and larger in size than it should be before entering the small intestine.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
To make matters worse, the excessive use of birth control pills, antacids, NSAIDS, antibiotics, caffeine and refined sugar aggravates inflammation and further widens holes in the fishnet and then they too seep into blood.
Since these particles are foreign, our immune system launches an attack on these particles and that's when we move into autoimmunity diseases like Hashimoto's, type 1 diabetes, inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis.
This condition is called Leaky Gut Syndrome because our gut is allowing all these toxins, foreign particles and protein molecules to leak into your blood; a place it's never supposed to be.
Good and Bad Bacteria
There is also something about Gut Micro-flora that determines gut health. Our gut is infested with good and bad bacteria more than anywhere else in the body. While both the types our important. It’s their ratio that matters most.
One needs to have more of the good ones than the bad because it helps in assimilating the nutrients from food and transfer it across the fishnet into blood.
But most people today have it the other way round due to stress, wrong eating habits and medication overdose. And this leads to vitamin deficiencies, losing weight, cravings, migraines etc because our cells are constantly deprived of nutrients.
The gut also contains yeast and if its population is more than good bacteria, it can cause serious bowel and GI tract disorders.
Link Between Depression and Gut Health?
Let’s also talk about depression and gut health. Yes it is related. When gut is healthy and functional, serotonin is synthesised in the intestine. Depression sets in when there is lack of serotonin, which is so important for a good mood and to handle emotions.
For this, doctors prescribe anti-depressants and while the drug does improve that quantity of serotonin and makes you feel happy, it’s only temporary.
But if your gut is unhealthy, it doesn’t allow your body to produce serotonin, so we rely on an antidepressants.
This dependency is harmful because over the time our body stops producing its own serotonin thinking that it doesn’t need to because it is getting it from an external source. This is how we also get addicted to those pills and also increase dosage.
Looking at problems ranging from small as acne to something as deadly as cancer, and how gut health becomes the root cause, the first thing we should do is clean our gut. So HOW do we do it?
A lot of things are not in control, like the air pollution and chemicals sprayed on food. Which is why we detoxify regularly to reduce toxic overload. This can be done through clean eating, regular detoxes, fasting, and fruits till lunch kind of a challenge, exercise, sweating and drinking adequate water everyday.
Take In More Probiotics!
We need to take in strains of good bacteria in any form every single day. Kefir, yogurt, vegan probiotic supplement, fermented drinks like kanji, sauerkraut are some terrific sources.
Include Raw Food in Your Diet
In a perfect world, you would want to eat 50% raw because they are an important source of digestive enzymes and food to gut bacteria. The moment food is cooked, all its nutrients are destroyed. Adding micro-greens is a good way to get some raw.
Minimise Processed Sugars
It’s poison because our body doesn’t know how to handle it, process it and it wipes out all of the good bacteria from your gut. Hence, moderation and mindfulness is advised.
Drink Less Coffee!
Excess caffeine creates inflammation in your gut. It’s also a diuretic which flushes out good bacteria. Make sure that you drink sufficient water after having your caffeine kick.
Don’t Abuse Antibiotics
There are so many people who are on strong antibiotic courses and they're not even asked to take a probiotic or B-complex, the very two things antibiotics deplete. This leads to an improper ratio of good and bad bacteria, which means you're gut health is compromised. Start exploring natural antibiotics like garlic, onions because the damage that antibiotics cause are irreversible.
Manage Your Stress
Feel spasms in your stomach when nervous about an exam? That's nothing but your brain sending signals to your gut. Infact, there is a second brain in gut called enteric nervous system (ENS). It is as real as your brain. So, now think about cravings you've been fighting. It just could be an unhealthy gut communicating with your brain.
By paying heed to the biofeedback our body gives, if we start investing in our gut health today, we are either securing or healing ourselves from most of the diseases.
(Luke Coutinho is M.D. Alternative Medicine (Integrative & Lifestyle) & Holistic Nutritionist. Luke treats patients with disease and specializes in cancer with a holistic and integrative approach worldwide.)