• Livia Ly, MS, RD, LDN

Do You Need to Fix Your Gut?

How have you been getting along with your gut bacteria lately?

Hopefully, pretty well as you have trillions of them living inside your gut.


In this article, you will learn:


1- why you need to care about your gut,

2- which signs & symptoms may be saying that you have a gut issue, and

3- what you should do about it.



 

1. Why Do You Need to Care About Your Gut?


Your gut bacteria is crucial for your health and it participates in many functions. A healthy gut will influence digestion, absorption, toxin elimination, immunity, metabolism, brain, skin, bone, and heart health, vitamin and hormone production, inflammation regulation, energy production, cholesterol and blood sugar management, and weight and satiety control. And this list keeps increasing with more research being published.


Here are some details about your gut:

  • it provides a physical barrier against harmful substances and pathogens that could enter our bloodstream.

  • 70-80 % of your immune system is in your gut

  • it produces a large amount of serotonin (the happy hormone)

  • it has the enteric nervous system in it with brain signaling pathways

  • it makes vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, vitamin K

  • it produces, helps metabolize, or secrete other hormones, including ones related to fertility and weight-control

  • it breaks down fiber into SCFA, an anti-inflammatory substance that also helps to regulate cholesterol. The breakdown of fiber also regulates pH balance promoting the optimal environment for beneficial bacteria.

  • it produces conjugated linoleic acid, a potent anti-cancer, and anti-obesity component



Your gut bacteria have been impacted from the time you were in your mom's womb. Your mother's microbiome and pregnancy diet influenced the initial makeup of your microbiome. Also, your gestational age, birth weight, birthing method, initial foods, usage of antibiotics, and exposure to the environment have all affected your gut diversity. A full-term baby with adequate birth weight, born vaginally, breastfed, without needing any antibiotics, with exposure to animals, soil, or sand, and who ate a healthy diet for the first three years of life may have the most adequate gut bacteria diversity. This proper bacteria diversity will, in turn, promote low long-term health risks for the child and into adulthood. By the third birthday, the child has a gut diversity that is similar to an adult's.


As adults, our gut diversity continues to change depending on our lifestyle and exposures. Poor sleep, lack of exercise, chronic stress, infections, a highly-processed diet high in refined grains and inflammatory fats, artificial sweeteners and carbonated beverages, antibiotics, laxatives, antimicrobials, and anti-acids will all impact our gut diversity negatively.

 

2. Which Signs & Symptoms May Be Saying That You Have a Gut Issue?


When the gut wall is irritated or inflamed, the tight junctions between your gut cells loosen up and you get increased permeability. Then you may get unpleasant symptoms like:

  • constipation

  • diarrhea

  • flatulence

  • bloating

  • reflux

However, chronic low-grade inflammation, imbalance of nutrients and hormones, and the harmful substances that pass through your gut lining may present you with other signs & symptoms outside of the common digestive ones, including:

  • anxiety, chronic stress, depression, insomnia, and other neurological disorders

Rationale: Your brain and gut are connected through the hormonal (cortisol), immune (cytokines), and neural (vagus and enteric nervous system) pathways. Tryptophan which would be converted into serotonin, the hormone of well-being, and melatonin, will be converted by pathogenic bacteria into other toxic substances. Inflammation favors the death of neurons. Lack of bacteria that are capable of controlling the levels of cortisol.

  • weight gain

Rationale: due to increased inflammation and decreased serotonin levels. In addition, gut bacteria affects the amount of energy taken from your diet and consequently helps increase the storage of fats; it also regulates genes related to obesity.

  • insulin resistance, hypertension

Rationale: gut bacteria affect the development of metabolic disorders

  • increased cholesterol and triglycerides

Rationale: increased fat production and increased flux of fats into the bloodstream

  • white tongue, fungal nails, scalp dermatitis, candidiasis, UTIs

Rational: fungal/bacterial overgrowth

  • infertility

Rational: improper estrogen metabolism and lack of nutrients

  • asthma

Rationale: immune-mediated condition.

  • cravings and binge eating

Rationale: stimulated by the lack of serotonin and other nutrients that had their absorption compromised

  • frequent illnesses, environmental allergies, migraines, gastritis

Rationale: due to increased inflammation and low immunity

  • hair loss, nail weakness, anemia, osteopenia/osteoporosis

Rationale: related to lack of vitamins and minerals

  • autoimmune conditions, skin rashes, food allergies/intolerances, acne

Rationale: due to increased gut permeability or leaky gut



On top of avoiding the signs & symptoms above, we should also focus on having healthy poop. Going to the bathroom every day is not a sign of a proper healthy bowel. Your daily stool should be brown, smooth with no cracks, whole, without food debris, mucus, or blood. You should not have difficulty eliminating it. Healthy feces are so important that people have been doing feces transplantations to fight infections, inflammation, or chronic diarrhea here in the U.S.

 

3. What You Should Do About It?


The great news is that a positive change in your diet and/or lifestyle can impact your gut diversity positively in only three days!


In our group coaching for Mom's Holistic Health starting this Spring, we will talk about gut health and provide templates, worksheets and guidance so you can take action and make your gut the healthiest it can be. Learn about our group coaching here.


We follow a 6-step R protocol for balancing gut health:



1 - Reduce


We focus on the first steps, individualizing for each client and noticing what needs to be a priority. Some people will need to cut back on alcohol or avoid smoking tobacco/marijuana, to avoid constant inflammation. Others need to start decreasing the number of processed foods they eat.



2- Remove


We follow a food elimination protocol. If a person has ongoing digestive issues, we may start with an 8-week low-FODMAP protocol. For others, we may perform a food elimination/reintroduction focusing on the top food allergens and food that commonly cause intolerances.


3- Replace


We help the liver and gut work on detoxification and ease digestion processes, where bitter greens, ginger, digestive enzymes, acid, bile, papaya, and/or pineapple are added to help.


4- Reinoculate


We can work on adding probiotics in different strains and amounts. We will recommend probiotic-rich foods, like kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, natto, as well as prebiotic-rich foods, fiber, such as inulin found in endive, asparagus, leek, onions, garlic, wheat, artichoke, herbs, and green banana and fructooligosaccharides, which is found in onion, garlic, tomato, green banana, oats, barley, wheat, and honey. Some will benefit from a prebiotic supplement that includes either inulin, FOS, or psyllium. Others will benefit from a symbiotic that adds both pre and probiotics.


5- Repair


Certain supplements like glutamine, glucosamine, type 2 collagen, and bone broths are beneficial.


6- Rebalance


We focus on lifestyle again. An anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich diet is crucial during this stage. As well as the addition of body-mind modalities, sleep hygiene, an exercise regimen, a daily self-care activity, as well as being around gardening or animals and away from highly processed foods are all helpful.



 

Promote a powerful healthy gut bacteria that will keep you healthy and feeling great!

 

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