This is a guest post written by Joe Struhs, INHC.
Did you know that you have trillions of microorganisms in your body? Almost 3% of your body mass is made up of living creatures – lumped together, that’s about the size of a large guinea pig!
A good portion of these microbiota (a living cocktail of fungi, bacteria, yeasts, and microbes) live in your gut. Understanding how this microbiome interacts with your gut (and in turn, how your gut affects the rest of your body) is key overall health!
Let’s explore four different ways your gut influences your health – for better and for worse.
A healthy gut will absorb the nutrients from the food you eat properly. However, an imbalanced microbiome can affect how your body processes your food, and can result in nutrient deficiencies. You could be eating the healthiest diet for you, but if your gut bacteria is out of whack, you could be missing out on the nutrition you need.
Emerging research is revealing that weight gain and genetics may not have to do so much with genetics as it does the critters that live in your gut. A lack of healthy gut microflora and an excess of the wrong kinds of bacteria may “set the stage for obesity and diabetes from the moment of birth.”
An imbalance in the gut’s microbiota can result in an overactive inflammatory response. This inflammation can show up in many ways, such as skin problems, migraines, achy joints, and, if left unchecked, can result in chronic disease, autoimmune dysfunction, and food allergies.
Research shows that changes in the gut’s flora can have a direct link to brain chemistry. These studies draw a correlation between concurrent digestive issues and anxiety or depression, and illustrate how some psychiatric illnesses can be connected to an imbalanced gut.
If after reading this you find yourself overwhelmed by the negative symptoms – don’t you fear! There are plenty of simple, natural ways to rebalance your gut and to be proactive about your gut health.
As an integrative health coach, I work with my clients to help them better listen to their bodies and achieve a balanced gut microbiome.
- Try an elimination diet to reset your gut, and then reintroduce foods to pinpoint sensitivities. The Whole30 is one of my favorite protocols I recommend to clients, and I follow it myself twice a year. It’s amazing what happens when you simply remove inflammatory foods from your diet, such as added sugar and alcohol.
- Focus on whole food nutrition. Crowd out processed foods and added sugars with colorful veggies, leafy greens, sustainably sourced protein, and plenty of healthy fats.
- Consume probiotic-rich foods, such as kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, and incorporate gut-friendly foods like bone broth and collagen.
- Use a high-quality probiotic supplement to encourage a healthy bacteria balance.
- Reduce your stress load. Excessive emotional stress can take a toll on your gut, so give yourself some TLC and practice self-care.
As you’re more mindful of your gut and learn to listen to your body, you can take a more effective approach to a happier, healthier you.
Joe Struhs, INHC is an LA-based certified health coach and educator who teaches about gut health, emotional aromatherapy, and positive psychology. Connect with Joe on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for nutrition facts, recipes, and nontoxic living tips!