Does it feel like you’re suddenly hearing the phrase “gut health” everywhere you go? Recent studies are making it clear that it’s time to pay attention to the well-being of the gut and focus on healthy foods for your gut. Doctors, nutritionists, allergists, dermatologists, and even mental health therapists are taking note.
At Camas Swale, we are passionate about helping our patients get and stay healthy from the inside out. Regardless of the symptoms you experience, we are here to get to the root of the problem and make a plan for your well-being. Many medical concerns stem from an imbalance in the gut, and we can help you bring balance back to your body.
What Exactly is the “Gut”?
When the medical community talks about the gut or the gut microbiome, they typically are talking about the intestines. In the past, many people saw the digestive system as merely a long tube with one job: to process food and separate it into stuff the body can use and stuff it can’t.
New knowledge, however, shows us that it is so much more complicated than that. Up to 500 strains of bacteria reside in the intestinal tract, and most of them are helpful and beneficial to a person’s overall health. These good gut bacteria help your body use vitamins and minerals efficiently, ward off viruses and harmful bacteria, and digest food properly.
The small intestine has the mighty job of allowing beneficial nutrients into the bloodstream while keeping harmful particles moving along to be excreted. When the gut microbiome is in good health, this process works well. When the gut is out of balance, and too many harmful bacteria are growing, a surprising number of problems can arise.
What Can Go Wrong?
When the microbiome in your intestines isn’t in balance, many symptoms can manifest throughout your body. Some ailments have an obvious connection to gut health, but others may surprise you. Here are some of the top indicators of a gut health problem:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Many symptoms and discomforts, such as gas, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea, get a label of IBS. In reality, much of the trouble in this area is due to poor overall gut health.
- Food Sensitivities – When the gut isn’t functioning correctly, it can allow particles to escape into the bloodstream. This is often called leaky gut syndrome. This situation happens when the lining of the small intestine becomes too permeable. When things sneak into the bloodstream that don’t belong there, the body responds in uncomfortable ways.
- Brain Fog – When patients routinely feel lethargic and unable to focus, gut microbiome imbalances are often to blame.
- Skin Irritations – Eczema, acne, and rosacea can have a gut health component. Again, if the intestine is allowing foreign objects to escape, the body will respond, and often, the responses impact the skin.
- Autoimmune Disorders – Leaky gut syndrome triggers your body to believe that it is under attack. When this happens, the immune system can turn on the body, attacking it to fend off the intruders.
The Second Brain
Physical maladies are not the only problems that can occur with poor gut health. Researchers have been learning more and more about the gut-brain connection and the link to mental health. It turns out that the brain and the gut communicate with each other in at least two ways.
They have a physical link by way of the vagus nerve. This nerve is the direct connection between the gut and the brain. They also communicate chemically by utilizing neurotransmitters and hormones that carry messages.
Have you ever been so nervous about a presentation that you couldn’t eat or felt nauseous? We all experience the gut-brain connection at different times, but most of us have never recognized it for what it is. The two parts are communicating with each other.
People often attribute stomach issues like nausea and loss of appetite to anxiety and other mental health concerns. Scientists now realize that it may go the other way. Bacteria imbalances and excessive permeability in the gut actually may be causing mental health problems.
How Do You Balance Your Gut?
The body can do a remarkable job of healing and rebalancing itself under the right circumstances. One of the best things you can do to support your intestinal health is something everyone has to do every day – eat!
The key is choosing the right gut foods for optimal health and the ones that are right for your body. The following choices may prove to be just what you need to get your gut back in order so it can serve you and your good health:
- Mangoes – These nutritional powerhouses appear to help restore healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome. They provide excellent nutrients and are a good source of fiber to boost the digestive tract.
- Yogurt – Packed with beneficial probiotics, and especially when you choose full-fat yogurt with no added sugars. These probiotic strains can help heal the lining of the gut, and help prevent food particles from leaking into the bloodstream.
- Salmon – Consuming wild-caught salmon gives your brain and gut a high dose of omega-3s. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and boost brain and gut health.
- Garlic and Onions – These pungent roots are full of prebiotics, which are food for the good bacteria in your gut.
- Fermented Foods – There is no shortage of fermented options on the market today. Just about every ancient civilization had a signature fermented food or drink, and finally, the western world is taking note. These options are critical to optimal gut health and provide significant numbers of probiotics. If you want to move beyond pickles, try any of these tasty choices:
Camas Swale is Here to Help
Dr. Armitage is excited to help you live your best life possible. Many times, that best life needs to start by addressing your gut health. At Camas Swale Medical Clinic, we focus on the whole body as we partner with you on your wellness path. Contact us today to make an appointment.