Thank you to my friends and neighbors at KrickFit for having me as their guest blogger; it was such a treat to dive into one of my favorite topics. Enjoy!
When we’re tuned in, we’re listening to them. When we’re brave, we’ve got them. When we’re honest, we’re spilling them.
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, noted that ‘all disease begins in the gut’ over 2,000 years ago.
Whether it’s clear intuition, big life moves, impactful art, courageous service or simply feeling better, that you’re after, gut health is a wise place to start.
A healthy gut positively impacts all of our body’s systems. Integrated with our nervous system, the gut plays a role in our reflexes and sends more information to our brain than it receives, guiding our mental states and energetic connections. A healthy gut supports robust immunity, shaping our reactions to viruses, parasites and fungus, toxins, physical and emotional stress. Good gut health ensures a peaceful, balanced response to life, even during hard moments.
Vibrant gut health lays the foundation for all over wellbeing.
What is The Gut?
The gut is the gastrointestinal (GI) tract running from the mouth to the anus, including the esophagus, stomach, colon, small and large intestines and is famous for its work in digestion and elimination.
Colonization of gut bacteria begins at birth, during the journey from the sterile womb through the vaginal canal, and is further supported by skin-to-skin contact, breast-feeding and first year of life nutrition. We inherit the blueprint for our gut health from our parents.
There are close to four pounds of hundreds of species of bacteria in the human gut, comprised of over 100 trillion microorganisms, carrying over 3 million genes (150 times more genes than a human being).
A balance of opportunistic and beneficial bacteria aids in digestive function and nutritional absorption, protects the intestinal wall, supports immunity, manufactures and regulates vitamins and hormones.
Tight junctions between the cells of the gut create a boundary between our body and the outside world. The integrity of this wall is greatly supported by balanced gut bacteria.
Stressed digestive function and poor diet support opportunistic bacteria and cause permeability in the gut wall, or leaky gut syndrome, allowing particles of undigested food, toxins and bacteria to enter into the bloodstream. Our wise body, sensing foreign substance in the blood, launches an immune response. A prolonged immune response leads to an autoimmune response, compromising our natural defense and leaving us vulnerable to sickness and disease. Systemic inflammation sets in, leading to more leaky gut, encircling us in a vicious cycle.
Is My Gut Leaking? Why?
Are you stressed?
If you are, it’s likely your gut could use some attention. Leaky gut syndrome is the result of stress from imbalanced diet and lifestyle and if you’re living a modern life, you’re likely over loaded with stress. Stress isn’t all bad. We need some stress to help us learn and grow, form community, sharpen our instincts and keep us strong. But these days, most folks are struggling day to day to achieve a low energetic baseline, totally overwhelmed by their stress load.
Digestion is a function of our parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘rest and digest’ branch. The body is designed to absorb nourishment and eliminate waste in a relaxed state. When we’re under pressure, in a sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ response, energy and blood flow are directed away from our core toward our limbs and digestion slows (if we’re running from a dangerous beast or hunting for food, we need energy to run without bathroom breaks).
Most people living a modern life are in a constant state of fight or flight:
Slam a cup of coffee while worrying about bills, sit in traffic for too long before doing unsatisfying work while sitting all day long, no breaks, no lunch, no fresh air, no natural light, more coffee and a donut at 3:00 pm just to make it to 5:00 pm, chug some water to relieve desperate thirst, race home for not enough time with loved ones, eat take out while watching the (bad) news and simultaneously checking emails, down a pint of ice cream at 10:00 pm, struggle with insomnia and anxiety until midnight before crashing, up at 6:00 am to do it all again.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Stressed living and eating equals poorly digested food. These large particles damage intestinal structure, causing the leak in the gut wall. Throw in chemicals, additives, dyes and flavors rampant in processed, packaged foods, tons of sugar and gluten found in the standard American diet (SAD), and your body is likely spending more energy processing toxins and fighting opportunistic bacteria than it receives from the limited nourishment food-like substances offer.
Talk about stressful! We’re basically going into energetic debt to eat garbage!
Here’s a checklist of symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. Our body is a collaborative system of systems; gut health plays a huge role in many of them. Signs of leaky gut syndrome don’t always appear as digestive trouble.
If you answer yes to a few or more of these questions, lifestyle changes focused on your gut will do you well.
How Do I Heal My Gut?
There is no magic bullet pill instant cure for improving gut health. Good gut health is the result of nourished, balanced living. If your gut is damaged, balance will require time and commitment to lifestyle changes. The great news is, as you heal, you’ll get to know your body’s needs and better know what’s best for you.
Incorporate these practices in your life to return to traditional, whole, organic foods and a slower, happier life.
Heal Your Gut to Hear Your Gut
Food, medication, environment, relationships and lifestyle are all potential healers or stressors. Conscious, balanced living is key to good health. When we live in balance with our rest and digest and fight or flight systems, we can navigate life’s twists and turns more gracefully and enjoy feelings of peace and serenity most of the time.
Maybe you’re thinking, ‘That sounds good, but do I have to live like a sequestered monk for the rest of my life just to heal my gut?!’
No. Not for the rest of your life. But, I do recommend strictly sticking with this outline for at least eight weeks and then aiming for 80% of the time. Once you know how great you can feel, you’ll never want to go back. Start slow if you need to. Do the best you can and don’t give up. A healed gut will change your life. You are worth it.
I coach heart-driven, ambitious folks who understand the importance of connecting with their truth before launching into impactful action.
Our truth is housed in our intuition – in our gut feelings. So, gut health is the first place I begin with clients. Every one of them who commits to cultivating a strong and balanced gut environment flourishes physically, mentally and spiritually, finding previously unknown wells of energy and joy. They get the guts they need to live their dreams.
My wish is for you to heal so you might hear your calling. Because we need you.
Have you healed from leaky gut syndrome? How are you feeling now? Leave and comment and let us know what has worked for you!