Did you know that your brain fog and fatigue can be related to gut health? The gut is closely related to every organ system in the body, and without it, none of the other systems could function. The digestive system breaks down food into smaller parts so that the components of the food (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) can be absorbed and sent to the cells at need them.
THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
The foods we eat nourish our body’s systems and provide the raw materials needed to repair our ageing cells and tissues, as the proteins used in the immune system.
The digestive system helps the body absorb the nutrients and minerals needed for fuel, tissue repair, reproduction, metabolism, immune function, and mood. Under ideal conditions, the digestive system absorbs 92-94% of food nutrients.
The nervous system and the enteric nervous system are closely linked; the intestine is full of nerve cells and contains 70% of the immune system. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain, is also produced in the gut and levels are higher after eating; this could be why people use “comfort foods” to cope with stress.
Statistics show that 60 to 70 million people suffer from various digestive disorders (1) including gas, upset stomach, leaky gut syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Our gut is not only home to our enteric nervous system, but also to over a trillion microorganisms that make up our microbiome. These organisms help produce vitamin K and antibiotics and affect everything from our weight to our immunity.
Poor gut health has been linked to a variety of conditions found outside of the digestive system, including skin conditions, joint and muscle pain, allergies, depression, headaches, depression, and menstrual pain.
MEDICATIONS AND YOUR GUT HEALTH.
The antibiotic kills the good and bad bacteria in your gut. This upsets the balance between good and harmful “pathogenic” bacteria. Harmful bacteria lead to intestinal disorders, leaky gut, constipation, malabsorption syndrome, eczema, and an increase in chronic disease. That is why it is important to eat prebiotic and probiotic foods daily and especially after antibiotic use.
BIRTH CONTROL PILLS
The use of the birth control pill, and its effect on hormonal balance, has been linked to bacterial imbalance and increased intestinal permeability, which allows proteins and food to escape from the digestive system and into the blood.
Gut bacteria are sensitive to hormones and hormone imbalances in the body and can lead to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut.
A Harvard study found that women who took birth control pills for 5 years or more had a higher risk of developing Chron’s disease, an autoimmune disease of the gut that damages the villi that absorb nutrients from food, thereby causing inflammation of the intestinal tract, which results in malabsorption and malnutrition.
Contraceptive use depletes the following nutrients: B vitamins, including B2, B6, and B12, magnesium, vitamin C, and zinc. To process drugs, the liver uses coenzymes (vitamins and minerals) to break them down, and when this happens, they are no longer available to the body.
NON-STEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS
NSAIDs are used to treat inflammation in the body, and in most cases, these over-the-counter medications are used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal pain syndromes. One of the disadvantages of using NSAIDs is that it causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the digestive system. These ulcers allow large proteins and nutrients from food to enter the bloodstream, where the immune system is activated. This leads to leaky gut syndrome and is associated with many autoimmune diseases.
Did you know that chronic stress increases inflammation in the gut and this can lead to hormonal imbalances, mood swings, and decreased immunity?
Chronically high cortisol levels can also increase leaky gut and suppress the immune system in the gut with an increased risk of bacterial imbalance and infection. Learning to manage stress and taking probiotics can reduce the damaging effects of stress on your body.
A diet high in refined sugars and low in fibre feeds harmful bacteria and increases inflammation in the gut. Studies have shown that a poor diet can change the bacteria that grow in the gut from beneficial bacteria to harmful bacteria.
This switch increases the risk of chronic diseases, mood disorders, malabsorption syndrome, and many other chronic conditions. Instead, eat fibre-rich whole foods, which help feed the good bacteria and maintain the fragile balance between good and bad bacteria. This improves digestive health by rebalancing blood sugar and slowing fat absorption.
HEAL AND REPAIR YOUR GUT
With a little help, you can heal and repair your gut by modifying your diet, eating fermented foods, managing stress, and taking probiotic supplements while taking antibiotics.
Prebiotics feed your gut flora and help it grow. You can find them in a variety of different plant-based foods. These foods help feed the good bacteria in your gut, and, in turn, help keep you healthy. Examples of prebiotic foods include Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, and garlic, to name a few.
Examples of prebiotic foods include Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, and garlic, to name a few.
Probiotics are foods that contain beneficial living organisms that replenish bacteria in the gut and help maintain the balance between good and bad gut bacteria. Healthy people have more than 100 different strains of bacteria in their gut. The following applies to the intestinal flora: the more varied, the better.
Some sources of probiotics include the following:
Yogurt – Choose plain yogurt and add fruit instead of flavoured yogurt with added sugars.
Kefir – A fermented milk drink like a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of mesophilic symbiotic culture. It contains probiotics and the enzyme lactase; lactase digests the lactose in milk, making it easier for lactose-intolerant people. Kefir contains many nutrients such as vitamin B, calcium, and proteins. It is a more effective source of probiotics than yogurt and contains more than 30 strains of bacteria.
Lassi is a yogurt-based drink rich in lactobacilli mixed with fruits and spices. It soothes the digestive tract, relieves gas and constipation, aids digestion, and stimulates the production of digestive enzymes. Lassi colonizes the gut with healthy bacteria, improves metabolism, lowers cholesterol, and improves immunity.
Beetroot kvass – fermented beet juice. This is a beetroot-based lacto-fermented drink that promotes regularity and digestion. Beetroot kvass is packed with probiotics, B12, manganese, magnesium, and many other beneficial nutrients.