Your Health Has A Lot to Do With Your GUT

gut health Sep 28, 2020

How to Heal Your Gut to Improve Immune System Function


What do your mood, your immune system, and your heart health all have in common? They all depend on the health of your gut bacteria in order to function. In fact, 80% of your immune response begins in your gut. Because of the dynamic feedback system between your gut and your brain, the health of the bacteria in your gut influences how your brain interprets information from your senses. This means that gut health is connected to your mood and your emotions, as well as your immune system. The precursors for the joy hormone, serotonin, are manufactured in your gut, so in order to experience the effects of serotonin in your brain your gut has to be healthy enough to make it. Your gut is also intricately connected to your heart, and influences blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and can directly affect the plaques of atherosclerosis.


The interactions between the trillions of bacteria in your gut and the rest of your cells are complex and varied. Researchers are working to establish criteria for what it means to have a healthy gut, but much more research is needed because of the complexity of the issue. What does seem clear, though, is the importance of a healthy gut and a handful of recommendations for lifestyle practices that support optimal gut health. 


If you’ve struggled with chronic pain, weight loss resistance, moodiness, or poor immune response, you may want to consider working to rebuild a healthy population of good bacteria in your gut. If you have ever taken an antibiotic, this is important as well. While antibiotics save lives by killing the bacteria that cause disease, they also kill many good bacteria. This can be countered by taking steps to nourish and repopulate your gut with good bacteria.


Here are five ways to work on healing and supporting good gut health.

  1. Eat fermented foods every day or find a good probiotic. A tablespoon of a naturally fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or fermented pickles delivers trillions of good bacteria to your gut. You want to be sure you are eating live cultures, so look for that on the label, or learn how to make your own ferments. If you choose to use a probiotic supplement, look for one that is handled properly to ensure that you are getting live cultures, and switch it up regularly to encourage diversity. 
  2. Cut back or eliminate sugar. Sugar actively feeds the bad bacteria and yeast that can upset the balance of your gut health. As these types of yeast and bacteria grow, they actually hijack your system and cause you to crave more and more sugar. Cut the sugar and starve them out!
  3. Reduce your red meat consumption. Red meat can be an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but you don’t need very much of it to reap those benefits. In fact, you should only consume 3 ounces of red meat per meal, which is a portion about the size of the palm of your hand and no thicker than a deck of cards. Choose organic, grass fed, hormone free meat.
  4. Avoid white grains, processed foods, trans fats, and vegetable oils. These foods can lead to inflammation, feed unhealthy bacteria, and disturb the balance of your microbiome. Also pay attention to sensitivities that you might have: common allergens are nuts, eggs, nightshades (peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes), dairy, and grains that include gluten. If your body reacts poorly to any of these things, it’s a clue that it isn’t helping your gut bacteria either. Honor that symptom and cut those foods out.
  5. Embrace anti-inflammatory foods like blueberries, ginger, turmeric, garlic and onion, bone broth, and all manner of leafy green high-fiber vegetables. Eat a rainbow every day.

The systems in your body are intricately connected in amazing ways. A symptom is a cue to get curious and to ask why it is occurring. If you are experiencing chronic pain, fibromyalgia, persistent inflammation, poor immune response, or depression, take the opportunity to talk to your health care provider about how to improve the health of the bacteria in your gut. 


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