Over 2000 years ago Hippocrates famously coined the phrase, “All Disease Begins In The Gut”. In recent years we have realized the importance of this statement and how strongly our gut health does affect our mental, physical & spiritual health.
Here are a few quick facts on the human gut:
1. The human gut is home to over 100 trillion micro-organisms.
That is 10 times more bacteria in our guts than we have human cells in the entire body. A number that large is hard to comprehend … but can you imagine how much of an impact 100 trillion microorganisms can have on our health?
2. Our gut bacteria comprises more than 75% of our entire immune system.
Do you find yourself feeling sick and tired a lot of the time? Quite often our immune system has been weakened by a imbalance of proper gut bacteria, along with an overload of internal and external toxins. Simply correcting this microflora balance (ideally 85% good bacteria to 15% neutral bacteria) can heal up to 75% of your immune system that resides in the gut.
3. When our intestines become permeable, AKA “Leaky-Gut Syndrome”, we are at risk of developing various autoimmune conditions and other illnesses.
Health concerns such as IBS, Chrons Disease, and other autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Type 1 Diabetes are steadily on the rise. Studies have shown that a weakened intestinal system, (and genetic coding), play a big role in why we may develop an autoimmune condition.
So what can we do? Here are 5 steps to restoring and maintaining a healthy gut.
1. Look before you flush.
What is your poo telling you? As a Colon Hydrotherapist I have spent a lot of time … well… analyzing poop! The most amazing part of working with a client on my table is seeing the before and after in their health and how closely it reflects in their poop. The truth really is in the stool. So pay attention.
Here is a Bristol Stool Chart to get you started.
Note that types #1 and #2 indicate constipation, types #3 and #4 are the ideal stools, and #5, #6 and #7 are typically considered diarrhea.
2. Increase your stomach acidity.
One of the most common things I see on the colonic table is extremely undigested food. If we are not digesting our food properly we are not absorbing nearly enough nutrients & minerals … even if we are eating the most organic, local foods. A lack of stomach acid also allows for pathogens, parasites and ‘bad’ bacteria to pass into the intestines, causing digestive issues and health concerns.
Hydrochloric Acid is naturally produced in our stomach when we eat in order to break our food matter into “chyme” which is then passed into the small intestine for further digestion and absorption of nutrients. However our busy lifestyle and irregular eating schedule has caused this acid secretion to reduce substantially. Some studies also note that a lack of minerals in our food may be contributing to the lack of hydrochloric acid being produced. If your food is not being turned into a healthy chyme you will cause unnecessary stress on your entire digestive system. The most effective ways to increase your stomach acidity is by taking a digestive enzyme with hydrocholoric acid (betaine HCL) with meals, or taking 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or bitters with mealtime.
3. Incorporate Fermented Foods – Every Day.
Fermented foods are a great way to re-establish healthy gut flora, heal the intestines and immediately improve bowel health, mood and energy. I’ve found that fermented foods can be superior to taking probiotic pills/powders (as they can be more bio-available and therefore better utilized by the body). Beware of processed foods and packaged yogurts that claim to have probiotic benefits. Instead focus your efforts on finding raw, unpasteurized kimchi, sauerkraut, and other food items that are naturally fermented (or make them yourself!). Start by having 1 tbsp of fermented foods with each meal and slowly increase to ¼ cup with each meal. This will improve your digestion, nutrient absorption and promote proper bowel health.
4. Make Time For Your Meals. Sit, Relax and CHEW your food.
Our society is always on the go, and as a result the meals we have are often ate too fast, while driving, while working, etc. Mealtime is no long a sacred time to sit, relax and enjoy. For most of us, eating is an inconvenience that we simply don’t have time for anymore.
We need to get away from eating while in “fight or flight” mode and instead allow the proper time to honor ourselves and our health. Relaxing and paying attention to our food is one of the most important things we can do for our digestion. And chew, chew CHEW! It is recommended that eat bite of food is chewed at least 30 times before swallowing. Initially this will seem like an eternity. Even starting with chewing 15-20 times will make a huge difference for your digestion and reduce bloating & fatigue after eating.
5. Eat a Balanced Diet with Whole, Fiber-Rich Foods.
It is extremely important to eat a balanced diet including many plant fibers, healthy proteins, and oils from nuts, seeds and algae. Green smoothies are a great way to support digestive function and proper bowel health. Most importantly make sure you are getting a variety of nutrients from different types of foods and honor your intuition when it comes to what your body needs. Once you eliminate toxic, processed foods from your diet and work on healing and repairing your gut you will notice you are much more in tune with what your body needs and what nutrients you may be lacking in order to heal.
If you struggle with digestive issues and are looking for immediate change I recommend you start with these 5 things right away. And if you want to see the direct result of the changes you’re making… find a local colon hydrotherapist so you can really see what your poo is telling you!