"All disease begins in the gut." Hippocrates
The core of a healthy body begins in the health of your gut. Now I know that sounds a bit strange, but the truth is there is so much more to your gut than you think! There are countless studies coming out now that have proven that the health of the gut is absolutely imperative to your overall health in various bodily systems such as the immune system, nervous system and metabolism.
What is "Gut Health?"
The main reason why gut health is so vital is because of what lies within your intestines, which is the microbiome or gut flora, the bacteria that lives in your gut. Humans can have up to 1000 different species of bacteria in the intestines! This is something important to remember because 80% of our immune system resides there. The microbiome is the relationship between the good and bad bacteria that live within the intestines. A healthy person can have trillions of bacteria that live inside the gut, so not all bacteria are bad. Having a healthy balance of both can determine the general health of a person considering that all bacteria expel certain chemicals that can either support or deteriorate your health.
The Good & The Bad
Having a bacterial imbalance in the gut is called dysbiosis. This can make us sick and makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight. The higher the variety and quantity of good bacteria, the better ability our bodies have to prevent the overgrowth of the bad strains.
According to Dr. Gerard Mullen, author of The Gut Balance Revolution, certain bacteria strains increase the hunger causing hormone ghrelin. This causes an increase in appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods such as sugar, bread and starchy foods that feed these kinds of bacteria.
If your bad bacteria outnumbers your good bacteria it also lowers the hormone leptin, which is the hormone that indicates that we have eaten enough.
Gut health and immune system
Our immune system is greatly reliant on the health of our microbiome. The bacteria in our gut interacts with our immune cells. The signals sent from our gut flora to our immune cells prepares the immune system for proper immune response. By the time you actually feel sick or feel the first symptoms of being sick, your gut bacteria has already signalled your immune system to properly respond and begin to fight off the infection. God created this in such a way so that when your body is constantly bombarded by pathogens, most of the time you don't get infections because your flora handles it before you actually get sick! There are so many things that can potentially have made us sick but don't because our gut flora has done its job of ensuring that the right chemicals and responses were released at the right time
Our intestines are lined in a way that protects various germs and potentially harmful pathogens from entering the rest of the body, which requires a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in order to maintain this lining intact. When the lining becomes compromised, this is called leaky gut.
This condition is becoming increasingly common among North Americans and is correlated to inflammation and several auto immune conditions. Allergies, asthma, neurological diseases and diabetes are all connected to the health of the micribiome. When the lining in our gut is compromised due to antibiotics or poor diet and lifestyle, the toxins that are created by the bad bacteria as well as food particles now have the ability to permeate our intestines through the holes, and leak into our bloodstream as you can see in the above image.
This causes inflammation and an overactive response from our immune systems. Some food sensitivities and allergies can be greatly reduced if we have a balanced flora and an intact lining of our intestines. Over 90% of all disease is connected to inflammation. Having a healthy gut is one of the ways we can drastically decrease disease in our body because it is our first line of defence. It is no coincidence that God created whole and natural foods for us to eat which would support a healthy life!
How do you heal leaky gut?
Although there isn't one specific formula for everyone in order to heal leaky gut, I do believe that with faith and following these general guidelines you can really help to mitigate and decrease the affects and root causes of a leaky gut.
Decrease consumption of processed sugars and starches such as wheat. Starchy foods are converted to sugar in your body. Choose to sweeten your food with more natural choices such as unpasteurized honey and stevia and avoid foods that cause inflammation in your body. Processed sugar is an inflammatory food and enables dysbiois and leaky gut.
Consume foods rich in fibre and and prebiotics like fruits and vegetables. Prebiotics are the foods that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Foods high in fibre are really important for your digestive system and feeds healthy flora. Healthy bacteria feed off of healthy food as unhealthy bacteria feed off of unhealthy foods.
Consume fermented foods like pickled veggies and sauerkraut and take probiotic supplements. Fermented foods contain healthy probiotics (healthy bacteria) that supports a balanced gut. Foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut & pickled veggies are fermented and have an abundance of probiotics along with fibre and micro nutrients that decrease inflammation. I highly suggest taking a supplement to support a healthy gut in combination with a healthy diet. The more healthy bacteria we consume the better the chances we have to maintain a balance between the good and bad bacteria. If you have recently taken antibiotics, take a 50 billion count supplement for at least 2-3 months to restore the balance. For regular maintenance you can take a 10-20 billion count supplement that contains at least 10 strains of bacteria.
Consume healing bone broth. This food is extremely healing to a leaky gut. The specific proteins and amino acids found in animal broths such as chicken and beef, have the ability to reconstruct the lining of the gut and begin to patch up the cavities in the lining. Bone broth is one of the most anti inflammatory foods as it contains a large amount of collagen, minerals, vitamins and compounds that boost your immune system. A cup of chicken broth on a daily basis will result in a healthier microbiome, less inflammation and can improve the appearance of your skin, nails and hair. Your mom knew what she was talking about by giving you chicken soup when you were sick!
There is a lot of positive information coming out from studies that truly demonstrate not only how vital gut flora is to our health, but that it is very easy and simple to maintain a balanced microbiome through healthy choices and habits.
God created us to be whole in spirit, soul and body. Understanding and learning how our bodies function internally and how to steward His temple in excellence empowers us as His children, and disarms the enemy from having a foothold in our body through disease and preventable health conditions.
Let us use this wisdom to equip ourselves for the good life He has promised us to lead physically and spiritually healthy lives for His kingdom and glory.