The concept of “gut health” is relatively new and was not known and/or taught back when I was in pharmacy school. A few years ago I spent an ENTIRE day learning about the importance of the “gut-brain” axis. I learned that virtually ALL disease starts in the gut, which was noted by Hippocrates 2000 years ago. The gut and the brain are part of the enteric nervous system (ENS), which is a meshwork of nerve fibers that innervate the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas and gall bladder. The ENS reports to the brain in a two-way communication about many mechanical and chemical reactions, including the secretion of over 40 neurotransmitters. In fact, 80-90% of the body’s serotonin can be found in the gut, which is why it’s often referred to as the “second brain”. Additionally, the gut houses between 70% of the body’s immune cells. Much of the chronic diseases we face today can also be traced back to our gut health.
Photo. Accessed on August 6, 2015 at: http://modernhealthproject.com/new-scientific-discovery-probiotics-and-prebiotics-may-hold-the-key-to-curing-neuropsychological-disorders/
A happy brain = a happy gut. See my tips below for maximizing your gut health:
1. Chew your food SLOWLY. We’ve all heard of “you are what you eat”, but really, you are what you absorb. Try to maximize digestion by being in a relaxed state while eating, taking small bites and thoroughly chewing your food.
2. Identify any inflammatory triggers like medications or foods that could contribute to inflammation. Chronic medication use with antibiotics, antacids and steroids can disrupt the gut permeability. Additionally, inflammatory foods can also cause damage to the gut. The most common allergenic foods include corn, wheat, soy, dairy (casein), eggs, nuts and fish. If this seems too overwhelming, consider food allergy/sensitivity testing or contact a practitioner to help you address.
3. Consider probiotic foods and/or a quality probiotic. See my post on Nutritional deficiencies in ADHD for more information on finding probiotic foods or choosing a supplement.
4. Minimize stress. Say what? Stress is a MAJOR contributor to inflammation and gut health. Whenever you’re feeling stressed, try this simple 6-7-8 breathing technique. I’m also a fan of a quick meditation. Check out the Headspace app (for 10 days of free meditations).
Want to read more?
Sanders, H. What is Serotonin and Signs of Serotonin Deficiency? Accessed on June 21, 2016 at: http://www.healthambition.com/serotonin-signs-serotonin-deficiency/
Christner, M. The gut brain axis: fix your gut, fix your brain. Accessed on August 6, 2015 at: http://empoweredsustenance.com/gut-brain-axis/
Kresser, C. 5 uncommon uses for probiotics. Accessed on August 30, 2015 at: http://chriskresser.com/5-uncommon-uses-for-probiotics/
Kresser, C. 9 Steps to perfect gut health. Accessed on August 7, 2015 at https://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-5-heal-your-gut/
Marquis, D. Inflammation affects every aspect of your health. Accessed August 30, 2015 at: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.aspx
Nett, A. Heal your gut, heal your brain. Accessed on July 30, 2015 at: https://chriskresser.com/heal-your-gut-heal-your-brain/
Sanfilippo, D. Healthy digestion. Accessed on August 30, 2015 at: http://balancedbites.com/healthy-digestion
Functional Farmacist. Gut Health and Microbiome Pinterest board. (I’ve got over 50 articles to read here).
Prefer to listen? Check out these podcasts:
Kresser, C. The gut-brain access. Accessed on July 30, 2015 at: https://chriskresser.com/the-healthy-skeptic-podcast-episode-9/
Immunology in the Gut Mucosa. You Tube. Accessed on August 6, 2015 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnZEge78_78