When you’re thinking about losing weight and getting healthy, you’re likely not thinking of the millions of microbes in your colon…
…but as it turns out, poor gut health can be the exact reason why you’re not seeing results from your hard efforts in the kitchen and the gym.
The balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract plays a huge role in our overall health. We are finally starting to understand how important those bacteria inside our gut actually are (or how detrimental they can be if unbalanced…)
All disease begins in the gut, and the bad bacteria in your gut can dictate to your brain what they need to be fed to survive, can you guess what it is?…
The bad bacteria in our gut thrive off of sugar in order to survive, creating an imbalance with the good bacteria. Overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria makes us crave the wrong foods and triggers inflammation.
Poor gut health can lead to chronic disease, weight gain, abdominal pain and bloating, gas, diarrhea/constipation, rashes, migraines, joint pain, nasal congestion, and chronic fatigue (and that’s just to name a few)
Other than being extremely uncomfortable, many of these symptoms can also be embarrassing and frustrating – and we don’t link many of these symptoms to our digestive tract.
Poor gut health is caused by overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria as well as inflammation and other external factors that compromise the integrity of the intestinal lining. These external factors include (but aren’t limited to):
- Food intolerances
Eventually this can lead to a damaged intestinal lining and something called “leaky gut”. It creates gaps between the follicles in your intestinal lining that are supposed to provide protection, and harmful things like toxins, undigested food particles, yeast, and bacteria get into the bloodstream. Your body recognizes this as a threat, and starts attacking them and creating even MORE inflammation – creating a vicious cycle.
70% of our immune system lies in the digestive tract, and 95% of our serotonin is actually produced in the small intestine, not the brain. So when you think about the mind-body connection, there is a HUGE connection between our gut health and our moods during the day.
The bottom line is that without proper gut health, creating and maintaining any sort of weight loss is extremely difficult.
So what can you do to start improving your gut health and balancing out those good and bad bacteria? Here are 6 things you can do right now!
1. Fermented Foods
Consuming fermented foods is one way that you can start balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your digestive tract. They contain probiotics that help support gut health and slowly rebalance the gut flora (good and bad bacteria). They can help increase antibodies and strengthen the immune system, regulate appetite, reduce sugar cravings. and treat candida in the gut.
Here are 6 fermented foods that you can try now (start with one and slowly work your way up to more):
- Kombucha (look for one with no sugar added, GTS is a good brand, avoid brands fermented with black tea)
- Pickles (look for a manufacturer that uses organic ingredients)
- Miso (made from brown rice if you are avoiding gluten)
- Yogurt (look for organic, goat or sheep milk, and grass-fed)
2. Ginger shots
I take a ginger shot every morning before I do anything else, it’s a healthy and refreshing way to start the day and the health benefits are numerous.
The ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, can help with the fat burning process, and aids in digestion and proper gut health. The lemon contains vitamin C to support the immune system and is actually an alkaline food (most people assume it is acidic). I also add a bit of turmeric to mine, which has anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants that can help to fight against cancer.
Check out the recipe below to make your own ginger shots!
HOMEMADE GINGER SHOTS
- juice of 5-6 large lemons
- 2-4″ ginger root, depending on how strong you want to make it
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/2 tsp dry turmeric (can also use fresh)
Blend together in blender or food processor and store in the fridge for up to 7 days. I pour mine into a shot glass every morning and take it that way.
3. Take a good quality probiotic
Probiotics are a type of bacteria that aid in digestion and restoring gut flora to proper balance. Taking a good quality probiotic every day can help to stimulate the growth of good bacteria and help you start to feel better.
4. Include L-glutamine in your regimen
L-glutamine is the one amino acid that makes up the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. Supplementing a healthy diet with a therapeutic dose of L-glutamine can help regenerate the mucosal cells in the digestive track to improve absorption of nutrients and reduce stress response associated with digestive irritants. Try mixing 1 scoop (1 tsp) with water 3 times a day (3 scoops=15 grams). It is a colorless, tasteless powder.
5. Remove the processed sugars from your diet
The bad bacteria in the digestive tract feed off of sugar in order to thrive and grow exponentially. If you are voluntarily feeding it the sugar they crave, you are creating a vicious cycle of sugar cravings, bacteria overgrowth, inflammation, and possibly weight gain and major health issues.
Cut out the processed sugars from food items like ice cream, candy, soda, coffee drinks, etc. Sugar hides in everything, so be really careful when you read food labels. Even something labeled as “sugar free” can still contain hidden sugars, and artificial sweeteners still contribute to poor gut health. Look for words like maltodextrin, anything “syrup”, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, tagatose, acesulfame K, sugar alcohol, agave nectar, etc. The bottom line is sugar is sugar, regardless of the alias it hides behind, and they all contribute to poor gut health!
6. Get tested for food intolerances
Food intolerance occurs when our bodies cannot properly digest and convert the foods we eat into the necessary nutrients that fuel our systems.
More simply, food intolerance occurs when you eat something but it fails to be properly broken down in the intestines. The main reason for this failure is due to a lack of digestive enzymes – it’s their job to break down food molecules so that they can be properly absorbed into the bloodstream.
When fighting a food intolerance, serotonin production (95% of which originates from the cells in our intestines) decreases dramatically, leading us to intense carb and sugar cravings.
This process sends our bodies into a vicious cycle of mood swings, depression, and unwanted cravings, all stemming from the body’s fight against food intolerance.