Our health originates in our gut. The microbes that reside in our digestive system are responsible for manufacturing essential nutrients, protecting us from disease and producing chemicals that communicate with the rest of our body. In fact, there are more bacterial cells in your body that human cells!
All human being’s have roughly the same microbiome bacteria species – some thousand or so – but each of us has a unique and individual makeup of those species. We will have more of some species and less of others. And all of them have been with you since birth, colonizing and living symbiotically with you. We have a beautiful relationship based on mutual benefit. So what do we do when out gut gets out of balance?
The gut can become balanced for a variety of reasons (most of them are man-made): antibiotic use, medications such as NSAIDs, poor diet, chronic inflammation, stress, and invasions of viruses and bacteria. Some of these are unavoidable in life. But there are steps we can take to get the gut healthy again.
Step 1.) Remove inflammation-causing agents from your diet. This could be any number of things and it can be different from one individual to the next. If you are continually running things that your body cannot handle through your system, you will live in a state of chronic inflammation and the cells of your intestinal lining will have a very hard time healing.
Step 2.) Fortify your diet with nutrients that are known to support a healthy gut lining. Again, this could be any number of herbs or amino acids. A few examples are one broth, which is rich in collagen and the amino acid l-glutamine, which can help repair cells. Slippery elm is a soothing mucilaginous herb that can help heal the gut. Almost all culinary spices are beneficial as well.
Step 3.) Feed the good guys! The beneficial bacteria residing in your gut love fibrous foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But the food they most love as fuel is something called resistant starch. This starch is a pure food source for them. It can be found in cooked and cooled potatoes and rice, and in green tip bananas, among other foods.
Step 4.) Reduce stress. I know, easier said than done. But look critically at your own life and see where there are stressors that are unnecessary, that are not contributing to your best life on this planet. Stress is often unavoidable, to take steps to reduce the effects of stress on your body. Eat well. Sleep well. Get outside and move in the fresh air. Practice yoga, tai chi or meditation. Yes, it takes time out of your schedule to to these things, but the pay off is worth it.
Regardless of what conditions you are suffering from, the gut is the optimal place to begin healing. All health links back to a healthy gut. Start here, and you will only feel better!