With the vast majority of Americans spending their time indoors, away from nature, eating processed and chemically-ridden food, constantly being exposed to aggressive solvents, perfumes and detergents, and not getting enough vitamins and enzymes naturally through sun exposure and foods that aren’t served in boxes / through a window…. we are suffering an epidemic of chronic diseases due to the unhealthy function of our gastrointestinal tract. About 70% of our immune defense relies on a healthy digestive tract and because of this many of us suffer constantly because of our undefended intestinal wall.
Below, I offer you some helpful info about the culprits of poor gut health and the solutions on how to nurture our guts back to health.
Our guts are the home of a complex array of nerve plexuses, which release neurotransmitters. The neuro-endocrine system of the gut is controversially said to be as important as the brain. Stress causes over-stimulation of this plexus, disrupting normal function of both the digestive and nervous system. PH regulation, bacterial balance, and ultimately, the integrity of the intestinal lining are compromised and results in digestive upset, mood alterations, and a susceptibility to a plethora of disorders.
Possible Solutions: Financial problems are the leading cause of stress, making us busier than we should be, which pulls us away from the loving and supportive relationships we need for our health. When this is the case, I recommend people write down on paper where they are financially and take a cold, hard look at where too much spending can be cut off. After that, putting into place a plan of action to reduce debts and increase income streams can help restore financial health, confidence, and loving relationships.
2. POOR SLEEP
We live in a go-go-go, on the run, lifestyle in our modern world, which makes it more and more difficult to stay healthy. Besides the numerous physiological benefits and necessary elements of a restful night’s sleep, sleep deprivation causes us to crave sugary foods that lead to terrible health dysfunction. Over repetitive abuse and sleep deprivation, our adrenal glands, that signal to our body when to be fully awake, and went to be tired, become exhausted and don’t work so well anymore. This becomes harder and harder to repair, leading to sugar cravings when we’re tired, further worsening our gut health.Possible Solutions: Set a non-negotiable time to go to sleep that is at least 8 hours prior to the time needed to wake and explore foods and supplementation that promote restful sleep. Also, start eating more nourishing foods that also promote restful sleep. Finally, find, and use, a high quality herbal supplement that will nourish the adrenal glands to help them restore their balance and function. If a specific recommendation is needed, simply fill out this Health Survey, and I can recommend one.
- Use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS; disrupt mitochondrial health). If you are taking an over the counter Ibuprofen you may be irritating the gut and promoting Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky gut allows toxins and metabolites, which previously could not enter the blood stream, in, compromising our liver and lymphatic system and leading to immune and endocrine issues.
- Antibiotics: Kill off all bacteria, even the good bacteria promoting dysbiosis (unhealthy population ratios). The use of antibiotics leaves the digestive tract unable to digest like before, and more susceptible to harmful foods, chemicals and autoimmune processes. In most cases, these do us more harm than good!
- Acid Reflux Medications / Proton Pump Inhibitors (For example: Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, etc.) block acid production in stomach. These PPIs cause unhealthy bacterial ratios in the gut and may predispose us to small intestine bacterial overgrowth and infections. PPIs also affect healthy intestinal lining by causing irritation, inflammation, and gaps through which undigested food, toxins, and organisms can pass in to the blood stream… causing all the previously discussed health issues!
Possible Solution: In some cases, when appropriate, a high quality filtered aloe juice and digestive enzyme solution, along with a non-temperature-sensitive probiotic, will help restore the body’s natural ability to digest food and also restore the proper balance of gut bacteria. Again, reducing the dependency on these types of pharmacological interventions, and enabling the body to handle things without them, is the goal.
5. EXCESSIVE SUGAR AND ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
Artificial sweeteners feed bad bacteria in our guts and promote the overgrowth of yeast, which destroy our healthy bacteria. What’s worse is that they cause blood sugar spikes and crashes making it harder and harder for our brains to accurately sense when we are truly hungry or tired. Moreover, they lead to an addiction to more sugar, causing more dysfunction and worse health. It’s a vicious downward spiral!
- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS; sweetened drinks and processed food found nearly everywhere): this artificial sweetener is more easily digested and absorbed than cane sugar and it causes more damage to the liver, a vital organ for fat loss and detoxification. HFCS triggers insulin spikes, cholesterol and triglyceride production. (lipogenesis ultimately promoting fat storage), and threatens us with metabolic disturbances. Furthermore, HFCS disrupts the intestinal cell lining by interrupting tight junctions and leading to macromolecule (undigested foods) and bacteria to leak across the intestinal lining and into the blood stream.. not good. According to Dr. Hyman, a prominent leader in functional medicine, “leaky gut” is associated with augmented immune reactions and inflammation and HFCSs are primary culprits (along with sugar and gluten).
6. GMO FRUITS & VEGETABLES:
GMO foods are sprayed with antibiotics, impair our natural detoxification pathway, disrupt our normal endocrine functions and metabolism, promote carcinogenic activity, damage kidneys and have shown to cause sterility in rats. Additionally, a review paper recently showed that these genetically modified foods may predispose us to gluten sensitivity and all the harmful digestive, autoimmune, and neurological effects it has on our ability to live healthy.
Possible Solution: Growing our own fruits and vegetables is cumbersome, but we can use a high quality fruit and vegetable cleaner, as well as purchase USDA organic produce, when possible to minimize their effects on our bodies.
These contain chemicals, preservatives, are more likely to contain hidden sugars and HFCS, and traces of cleaning solvents (full of chemicals and endocrine disrupters), which get in the food during packaging and preparation. Frying foods creates, among other harmful elements, indigestible fats and deformed proteins… these cause inflammation and damage to our intestinal mucosa, and alter bacterial populations. The processing of “junk “ food by bacteria in our gut produces endotoxins and inflammation. As a result, insulin is over produced and fat is stored, sending our appetite out of control and leading to weight gain and a propensity for chronic disease.
Possible Solution: these items cause the digestive lining to develop a film over them that prevent healthy nutrition from even entering our blood! Again, I always start new clients out on a 5-7 day gentle fruit and vegetable detoxification program that helps them begin to break this harmful lining. It takes a focused effort and some guidance, but once the process is going, the results are amazing!
8. CHLORINATED & FLUORIDATED WATER
These can creep into your body by drinking this water or by showering/bathing in it! Scientists have found anything under a molecular weight of 150 can seep into our body transdermally. Chlorine therefore is easily absorbed as it has a mw of 35.4! In fact, the university of Pittsburg did a study showing you can intake 10 times more chlorine via a 10 min shower, than drinking 8 glasses of the same water. The steam from the shower helps facilitate absorption.
Possible Solution: Install an under-sink water filtration system in the kitchen and bathroom showers so an unlimited supply of clean drinking and bathing water is available.