We have all heard that saying, trust your gut, and the gut-brain connection is being explored more and more in relation to the health of our gut and functioning of the brain. However, I recently heard that it takes something like 8 billion dollars and 17 years for new research to be supported and then released to the mainstream public. Who has time for that kind of turn-around? Instead, you have to learn to trust your gut.
Your gut is your gastrointestinal tract or GI tract, which starts in your mouth and ends at your anus, so it includes your esophagus, stomach, and intestines as well. Each part of the gut has an important job to take in, digest nutrients, and expel waste. It is in our small intestines where we predominantly absorb the nutrients that we have chewed in our mouth and broken down in our stomach. If your gut is irritated then we are not able to absorb nutrients efficiently or completely. This irritation is known as inflammation.
Our gut is lined with sensitive mucous membrane cells and can be easily irritated when overwhelmed with toxins. Inflammation can present itself as rashes, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, brain fog, breakouts, depression, anxiety, insomnia, joint pain and chronic fatigue. Talk about being overwhelmed! If you are experiencing any of these it is a good idea to do some work with a qualified doctor to figure out if you have inflammation in your gut. Chronic inflammation can lead to physical, muscular and neurological disorders and damage vital organs so it is not something that should be ignored with the thought that it may resolve on its on.
Toxins that irritate the bowel include processed sugar and grains, heavy metals, food and environmental allergens. White sugar and processed wheat are two classic inflammation instigators. The sugars feed bacteria in the gut that are harmful. We have helpful and harmful bacteria in our gut, and its all about keeping the helpful bacteria levels higher. Heavy metals include lead, mercury, aluminum, cadmium and arsenic. They can sneak into your diet in farmed and larger saltwater fish, drinking water and other foods. Heavy metals act like a big magnet in your gut, attaching themselves to nutrients and carrying them out of the intestines, where they should be absorbed. So even if you are eating a healthy diet, but have heavy metal toxicity, you won’t absorb the nutrients. They can also kill the healthy flora, the bacteria in the gut responsible for the absorption of nutrients, as well as cause cancer. Food allergens can differ from person to person and can also change over time depending on your immune system. Environmental allergens include mold and mildew, pollens and grasses and dust mites.
Distrusting in your gut at this point? Luckily our bodies are constantly replacing cells and when given the optimal environment can return to peak performance. Get on board:
If you suffer from chronic inflammation and have not been tested for heavy metal load or screened for potential food and environmental allergens that is a good place to start. There are blood and urine tests you can order for both.
Look at the “clean fifteen” and “dirty dozen” regarding organic foods. The “clean fifteen” are the produce that are okay to eat non-organic since they aren’t highly sprayed with pesticides. The “dirty dozen” should be avoided and bought organic or local when possible since they are highly sprayed. In general do your best to buy organic berries, potatoes, bell peppers, apples, peaches and other stone fruit, as well as greens. Produce with a thick skin such as bananas, mangoes and avocados aren’t as much as a concern since they have a good defense in the skin.
Published in the Gorge Guide Summer 2017