The fact that gut health can have such a big impact on so many aspects of your health is why it’s so important to look after it.
Your gastrointestinal tract begins in your mouth and goes through your body, ultimately ending at the colon.
It plays an integral role in your overall health as it is responsible for the digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients.
Poor digestion has a wide variety of flow on effects and can contribute to several conditions including:
- Skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis
- Allergies such as hay-fever, asthma, and sinusitis
- Nervous system complaints such as depression and insomnia
- Endocrine disorders such as thyroid disease and diabetes
If you are seeing a natural health practitioner and it looks like your gut health isn’t 100%, they often start there in your treatment.
This is because healing your gut will improve your health and a healthy gut is best suited to supporting further healing and wellbeing.
The health and action of your upper digestive tract also has a follow-on effect on your lower gut health.
If your stomach isn’t acidic enough, then your body won’t be able to break down food effectively. This leads to the food staying in your stomach too long or leaving it incompletely digested.
When it does eventually leave the stomach, it needs to have a certain level of acidity to trigger the release of further digestive enzymes in the small intestine. This means that the pH will be too high as the food continues further down the digestive tract. This means that, as the food travels through your intestines, it will change the environment.
An altered environment has a negative impact on beneficial microflora and gives opportunistic microflora the chance to grow too much. Changes to your intestinal microbiome further alter your ability to break down and absorb nutrients from your food.
In addition to changes to the microbiome, the presence of larger, poorly digested food chunks has a negative impact on your intestines.
When they reach the large bowel excessive fermentation, leading to bloating, pain, and flatulence occurs. This causes inflammation, increasing intestinal permeability, which means that the smaller gaps that normally only let in beneficial nutrients become too large and let in other things.
This leads to increased inflammation, poor absorption of nutrients, nutrient deficiencies, and food sensitivities.
Dietary Support for Gut Health
To help support your gut health, it is very important to eat a diverse range of fresh produce.
You should look at eating as many different types of unrefined fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, fish, chicken, turkey, and lean red meat as you are comfortable with.
Animal protein is a great source of a lot of nutrients that are essential for good gut health so make sure to supplement the nutrients you miss out on if you don’t eat a lot of meat.
Zinc and B group vitamins can easily become low so it’s important that you keep an eye on them.
If your gut health has been on a downward slope for a while, there are some specific nutrients that have probably been depleted.
Fortunately, these nutrients are also perfect for helping heal your gut. These nutrients include:
- Essential fatty acids help to reduce inflammation
- Zinc supports formation of stomach acid and enzymes, supports healing of damaged mucous membranes
- Fibre supports gut health and beneficial microflora
- Collagen supports healing of the intestinal microvilli