Have you lost your energy? Are you dealing with joint pain? Are you bloated even though you’ve been counting calories and getting to the gym? All these health issues can be traced back to the health of your digestive system. Good health begins in the gut, so find out what makes yours happy, and how it can keep you healthy and thriving!
What Your Digestive System Needs
Good Digestive Bacteria
Humans have a busy ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that inhabit almost every part of us. We find the highest concentrations on our skin, and in our digestive system. In the most recent estimate, we are home to about 0.2 kg, or approximately half a pound of bacteria (1). In exchange for living in our digestive system, these microbes perform many functions, including some we wouldn’t be able to do without them.
In the digestive system, this ecosystem of organisms–that we call our microbiome–control many bodily functions including immune function, synthesizing neurotransmitters and vitamins, and of course regulating metabolism and weight (2) (3).
Research has taken a much more detailed look at how the gut microbiome influences health. Imbalanced intestinal bacteria affects almost every system in the body, and can drastically increase risk for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, some cancers, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimers (4).
A Clean Liver
The liver’s role in overall health is the most commonly overlooked when trying to lose weight or get healthy. The liver excretes bile to help us break down dietary fat, but it also helps absorb vitamins and minerals. On top of that, it plays a big role in hormone production, the regulation of blood glucose, insulin levels, and cholesterol. Traditional Chinese medicine recognized the importance of liver health and it’s pivotal role in balancing hormones, removing toxins, and even storing toxic emotions.
The role the digestive system plays with acne, and other skin breakouts begins primarily in the liver. While some foods can cause inflammation and result in acne, the liver’s ability to properly metabolize and excrete toxins directly affects how clear our skin is (5). If the liver can’t process toxins effectively, they’ll find another way to leave our body, such as through our sweat, and that’s when irritation and breakouts can occur. The skin is often a mirror for liver function.
Because of all it’s activity, the liver can become overworked, and that’s when we notice toxin and fat deposits in the form of inflammation. A strained liver can cause fat to build up around the midsection, and that means that no matter how much we restrict calories, weight loss is almost impossible unless we clean up our liver. Often, a liver fix can be a great addition to a belly fix!
Healthy Intestinal Lining
The lining of your intestine is made up of millions of cells tightly joined together to form a barrier separating the digestive system from the rest of your body. A healthy intestinal lining is able to let good things pass through, like vitamins and water, and keep the bad things out, like waste and bad bacteria.
In response to food sensitivities or inflammation, this network of tightly joined cells becomes more “open” allowing larger cells to leave the intestine, where our immune system then sees them as intruders and initiates an inflammatory response to rid them from the body.
In the case of Leaky Gut, improperly digested food is allowed to continually leave the intestine through junctions in the intestine, and our immune system is constantly recruited to identify and respond. The constant stimulation of our immune system in this way can lead to chronic inflammation, increased autoimmunity, and poor digestion (6).
We’re familiar with the phrase, “you are what you eat.” But “you are what you can digest and absorb” is really more accurate. And without a healthy intestinal lining, you’re doing neither.
Do I Need A Belly Fix?
Poor digestive health symptoms range from mildly annoying to downright debilitating. Ayurvedic Medicine connects poor gut health with many symptoms including the following:
- Changes in mood
- Digestive discomfort (diarrhea, gas, constipation)
- Belly bloating
- Sensitivities to foods
- Autoimmune conditions
- Breakouts or other skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis)
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
These symptoms are your digestive system trying to send you a message. And the foods we’ve been told are healthy are some of the worst offenders for our gut health. Not only do they do harm to our digestive system, but they prevent it from healing, causing more problems even after they’ve left our system.
How to Fix Your Digestive System
Maintaining (or regaining) your digestive health can seem like a daunting task, but it’s a balance of many factors, and fortunately, our body constantly sends feedback! Due to our modern lives, many of our stressors manifest in the gut where they wreak havoc on our health (In Ayurveda, this is referred to as Pitta).
There are several things about life that can knock our digestive system off balance:
- Poor diet
- Unknown food sensitivities
- Getting sick
- Drinking alcohol or taking certain medications
If you suspect your digestive system if out of balance, sign up for the 21-Day Belly Fix course. You’ll get a step-by-step action plan to clean up digestion, heal your gut, and clear the way for weight loss and better energy.
In the meantime, follow these tips to improve digestion and heal your gut.
- Quit sugar. If there’s one thing you do this year, overcoming your sugar addiction is the most important. The bad bacteria in our gut love sugar, and they thrive off of it. If you want to starve your bad gut bugs, and feed the good ones, remove sugar from your diet. This goes for processed carbohydrates as well (which are converted directly to sugar in your bloodstream). Less sugars for your digestive system to process will support a healthy liver, microbiome, AND weight loss.
- Eat your greens. Dark, leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods we know of. And they pack with them a dose of fiber to feed your friendly gut bacteria. Greens upregulate Phase II detoxification pathways, which your liver loves. Use my favorite green juice recipe for reducing a bloated belly.
- Incorporate fermented foods. You might be familiar with fermented products like yogurt or kefir, but there’s a whole world of beneficial probiotics in foods like miso, sauerkraut, and beet kvass. Dairy-free and healthy!
- Use coconut oil. The fatty acids present in coconut oil are naturally anti-fungal, and can help fight the proliferation of bad bacteria in your gut (7). In addition, it contains healthy fats, which help absorb our fat soluble vitamins, and helps maintain the integrity of our intestinal lining.
Other Ways You Can Improve Digestion
Stress less. For those of us constantly on-the-go, we eat when we get a spare moment, and it isn’t always under the calmest circumstances–in the car with fighting kids, standing over the kitchen sink while cleaning up dinner, etc. This is bad for two reasons: our nutrition suffers, and our body doesn’t have a chance to properly digest food.
Digestion begins in the brain right when we think about eating. The brain initiates a series of physiological mechanisms to signal the production of hormones and enzymes, but stress significantly hinders these signals (8). The result is poorly digested food that can cause uncomfortable bloating, gas, and inflammation. Take a moment prior to eating to focus on being present, and calm your nervous system to prime for digestion.
If your digestive system is stressed out, it might be because YOU are, too.
Get to know your bowel movements. It might sound funny, but we can all become experts on our own stools, and it can tell us a great deal about how our digestive system is performing. The best way to figure out which food intake is right for you is to take a look at, well–output. Monitoring your stools involves being aware of consistency, frequency, color, and of course whether bowel movements are comfortable overall. Typically, going 1-2x per day is considered healthy, and stool should be firm, but not uncomfortable to pass.
Gut Health is YOUR Health
It’s hard to name a system that isn’t affected by the function of your digestive system. Scientists are now calling it our “second brain” because it regulates so much within our body.
If you’ve been struggling with your health, it’s time to go back to the root cause and fix what’s going wrong. The 21-Day Belly Fix is proven to help restore digestive function and heal your intestinal lining so you can see more energy, weight loss, and the best version of YOU.