Your Gut Health and You!

A simple search online will demonstrate that gut health is a key component to our overall health and wellness. But how? What is the gut brain axis and why is it so critical and what can you do to improve your gut health?

I see many patients in clinic that suffer from anxiety, depression, irregular bowel movements, fatigue and generally feel unwell. Everyday, we discuss the importance of gut health and how to improve your gut health naturally.

The brain functions off of neurotransmitters that play a critical role in balancing a multitude of functions in our bodies, and about 85% of these neurotransmitters reside in our gut. Several studies have demonstrated that presence of “good” bacteria is necessary to trigger normal immune responses and a balance gut microbiota is important for the mucosa’s immune defense.  

That means that when our gut is inflamed, it causes our immune system to dysfunction and causes an imbalance in hormones and the balance of our human body.

An inflamed gut can lead to several disorders such as: 

Acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, can be associated with Crohn’s disease and even Parkinson’s

What are some of signs of a healthy gut?

  1. Regular bowel movements. 
  2. Clear skin
  3. Energy
  4. Waking up refreshed in the morning. 

On the contrary, if you are suffering from any of the following, you might be suffering from poor gut health, or leaky gut syndrome.

  1. Discomfort in your stomach: frequent abdominal pain, bloating or discomfort
  2. Fatigue
  3. Unintentional changes in your weight: weight gain or loss
  4. Untimely food cravings
  5. Allergies
  6. Skin Irritation
  7. Mood swings
  8. Autoimmune conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis
  9. Migraines

So, how do we improve our gut health naturally?

Again, the internet can provide plenty of resources, and these can be overwhelming and confusing.

Generally speaking, focus on a vegetable rich, protein-based diet. Limit greasy, fried, inflammatory foods with lots of preservatives.

Here is what I recommend to my patients:

  1. Consume more vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts to increase your fiber intake
  2. Maintain your oral health and limit your sugar intake as your teeth are the first step in your gastrointestinal tract.
  3. Consider consuming fermented food like probiotic yogurt or Kimchi salad that has more beneficial bacteria. These bacteria help in the conversion of sugar to alcohol and acids.
  4. Consume more food options with polyphenols and dark chocolate.
  5. Add a blend of spices to the meal you cook.
  6. Say no to artificial sweeteners and preservatives.

What is an ideal diet for a healthy gut?

I have a program in clinic where I help coach patients to better understand what foods affect them and how.

We can try a “generic” program or after some studies, we can determine a very specific diet designed based on your needs. We can do stool studies and some lab allergy testing and pain free allergy skin testing to see what foods you should avoid.

A healthy gut diet plan is about balancing the good bacteria, prebiotics and probiotics in your gut to help balance the microbes in your gut and body.

Some pointers when thinking about how to adjust your diet:

  • Consume more of leafy-vegetables
  • Avoid highly processed food
  • Use probiotic foods and supplements
  • Avoid antibiotics
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid preservatives in your foods

This information can feel overwhelming and leave you thinking, so what next?

I recommend a consult with your healthcare provider to discuss what is right for you and your diet for healing your gut health. A focus on replenishing vitamins you might be lacking, supplementation with multivitamins, probiotics and Vitamin D and focusing on your diet are critical to your gut health.

Asma Bhaidani