5 Steps to Optimize your Gut Health
It is absolutely crucial to optimize your gut health. The only thing that separates your digestive system from your bloodstream is the single-cell-deep lining of your gut and stomach. This lining is a barrier to selectively allow certain key nutrients to pass into your bloodstream through what we call "tight junctions." Tight junctions are the areas where the membranes of two adjacent cells join together to form a barrier. The lining is also where the majority of your bacteria are located, because your bacteria protect this lining.
Our modern lifestyle and diet choices can cause these tight junctions to loosen and consequently destroy our beneficial bacteria. This is a huge problem because damaged junctions can allow toxins, unwanted substances, harmful bacteria, viruses, and other particles, that would otherwise be neutralized and excreted as waste, into your bloodstream. This is what we refer to as "leaky gut."
Leaky gut is associated with nearly every chronic condition from autoimmune diseases, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma, celiac disease, to more common conditions like acne, rosacea, headaches, and fatigue.
An unhealthy microbiome and leaky gut can decrease both your healthspan and your lifespan (healthspan: how healthy you are in a given year, lifespan: how many years you live)...so it's a VERY big deal and very important to take care of.
Five Steps to Optimize your Gut Health
Remove the things that damage your gut lining and beneficial bacteria. These are things like environmental toxins, foods with damaged fats (fried foods), certain medications, unnecessary antibiotics, and a diet high in starch, sugar, and gluten.
Replace all the things that you removed with whole foods, quality fats, & digestive enzymes, if need be (to aid in digestion and support your gut while transitioning to an optimal functioning gut).
Repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria via probiotics, prebiotics, resistant starches, quality fiber-rich foods, and fermented foods that agree with your microbes (read here for more info).
Repair and Heal your gut lining via support from omega-3 fatty acids, bone broth, and L-glutamine.
Balance your lifestyle and nutrition choices to help you keep your gut healthy. Include things like mindfulness practices, meditation, a healthy life/work balance, making time for play and relaxation...etc.
Nothing too complicated here, but optimizing gut health is essential to increasing both your healthspan and lifespan. Our ultimate goal is for your healthspan to equal that of your lifespan. Your gut health and unique composition is determined by a variety of factors and collective experiences from your entire life.
Some of these factors include:
-infant feeding method
-location and activity levels
-stage of life
Because your gut health and composition is entirely unique to you and your life's experiences, it's important to understand the steps that you need to take to heal it. Your starting point may be different from someone else's, simply due to the fact that you were delivered via C-section. Because gut health is at the foundation of health and disease prevention, your health will not be optimized until you heal your gut and diversify your microbiome through nutrition and lifestyle practices.