Gut Health, Leaky Gut, and How the Holistic Medicine Approach Can HelpOct 24, 2022
Gut Health, Leaky Gut, and How the Holistic Medicine Approach Can Help
“Gut Health” is more than just a buzzword in the holistic health community. Your gut is doing much more than digesting your food and is a crucial pillar in your overall health and well-being.
When we’re experiencing poor gut health, it can lead to a number of health issues ranging from mild symptoms to autoimmune conditions. To begin working on gut health, we need to understand why it’s so important and how it works. So, let’s look at what gut health is and how a holistic medicine approach can help you maintain a happy and healthy body.
What is Gut Health?
To understand gut health, we need to look at the gut microbiome. Simply put, the gut microbiome is the microorganisms living in your intestines. There are around 200 different species of them living in your digestive tract that work to keep everything in balance. These microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. Don’t let those words scare you!
There can be good and bad bacteria in the body. Good bacteria play a significant role when it comes to gut health. Your body has around 40 trillion bacterial cells and about 30 trillion human cells. So, you could say you’re made of more bacteria than human.
Think of your microbiome as a little city working to keep balance in your body. Everyone’s microbiota is unique and determined by your DNA. We are exposed to the microorganisms that make up our microbiome the moment we enter the world. As we grow, environmental exposures and diet can change the microbiome.
The good and bad bacteria live together and generally have a balance that keeps you healthy, but if the balance is thrown off it can result in health problems.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Another issue to look out for in regards to gut health is leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is a theory that refers to intestinal permeability. This means that your small intestines could be letting unwanted substances through their walls and into your bloodstream.
Your intestines have good bacteria known as probiotics that reduce the amount of harmful bacteria and fungi in your digestive system. Probiotics also produce chemicals that protect the lining of your gut. Antibiotics, stress, poor nutrition and toxic chemicals kill off your probiotics and damage your gut lining. The harmful bacteria and fungi also increase in number and release toxins which damage your gut health. All this leads to leaky gut syndrome - a condition where excessive toxins now leak into your blood stream from your gut and cause inflammation everywhere in your body.
Leaky gut is a territory that’s still being explored and isn’t a firm medical diagnosis. What research shows is that autoimmune diseases like Chron’s disease, IBS, mental health issues, asthma, eczema and other chronic diseases are closely linked to leaky gut syndrome.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
The gut is essentially the foundation of your health. It performs all sorts of functions such as aiding in digestion, absorbing nutrients, and turning them into fuel. Without your gut, you’d have no energy to get anything done!
When your gut isn’t balanced, your immune system won’t work properly. This can affect basically everything in your body, including hormones and serotonin levels. The gut is also where your body gets rid of metabolic waste and toxins. Signs your gut isn’t in good shape can include:
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
There are several factors that can affect gut health, and there is no one-size fits all approach to healing them. What you can do is focus on a holistic approach to start healing your gut and get to the bottom of why you’re experiencing an imbalance.
What Affects Gut Health?
When you determine that your gut health is off balance, it’s important to look at the factors that can affect it.
Stress not only affects the mind but the entire body. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to eat junk or unhealthy food, creating inflammation in your gut and an imbalance of gut flora. Stress also increases cortisol levels, which reduces the strength of the lining of your gut. Chronic gut inflammation as well as imbalanced cortisol levels can both lead to leaky gut syndrome, which we will discuss a little later in this article.
Poor nutrition is a major cause of leaky gut syndrome and poor gut health. If you eat inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, excessive coffee, alcohol and sugar, these foods can trigger inflammation in your gut, leading to leaky gut syndrome.
Let’s face it, we all like to eat junk food once in a while, but it’s important to be mindful of how much we’re eating and to maintain an overall healthy diet
One of the biggest factors when it comes to gut health is your liver health. The liver produces and releases bile into the gut which plays a huge role in digestion. Not only that, but bile helps to remove toxins and aids in killing off bad bacteria.
When your liver is in good health, the liver sends a message to your stomach to release the right amount of acid for digestion. When your liver is in poor health, digestion doesn’t happen properly and the toxins and bad bacteria will stay in the gut causing gut health problems.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
An unhealthy gut can present itself in many ways. It’s important to know the signs of an unhealthy gut so you can restore balance. Some of the most common signs of an unhealthy gut are:
If you start to notice yourself having food intolerance, it could be a sign of poor gut health. This can actually be caused by bad bacteria in your gut, and you’ll have trouble digesting certain foods which can cause discomfort, bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain.
If you find yourself craving sweets, this can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. When we eat too much sugar and processed foods, our body gets used to them. The bad bacteria that feed off these sugars send chemical messages to your brain to crave more sugar to feed them, leading to sugar addictions.
Believe it or not, skin conditions can be related to poor gut health. Acne, eczema, and psoriasis may be related to gut health because poor gut health and leaky gut syndrome lead to inflammation all over your body. Inflammation is the leading cause of chronic health issues, including skin problems.
Unintentional Weight Changes
When your gut microbiome is off balance, it can result in trouble absorbing nutrients properly, which means you might have a slower metabolism and have trouble burning fat. Chronic inflammation from leaky gut syndrome also leads to water retention and trouble regulating blood sugar, both of which lead to weight gain and fat storage issues.
You Have Frequent Migraines
Research has shown a link between headaches and gut health. If you are having migraines that are accompanied by nausea and vomiting, it could be related to your gut.
You Have an Autoimmune Disorder
Having poor gut health can lead to a number of health conditions, including autoimmune disorders. If you are dealing with thyroid problems such as Hashimotos, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or diabetes, it may be related to your gut health.
Holistic Medicine and Natural Remedies for Gut Health
Finding the right solution for maintaining gut health can be overwhelming. The good news is that there are several holistic remedies that will get that gut into tip-top shape. Let’s go over some of the basics to get you started.
Stop Eating Processed Foods
Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for your gut health. So much of the food we eat is full of sugar and preservatives that can wreak havoc gut health and cause many more problems. When you can, try to opt for all-natural foods with minimal processing.
Probiotics and Prebiotics are Your Best Friends
While you’re eliminating processed foods, try to replace them with foods rich in pro and prebiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that your gut needs to stay balanced, and the prebiotics are foods for them to have the energy to keep you healthy.
Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are great for adding probiotics. As for prebiotics, banana and garlic could be beneficial.
Practice Stress Management
Remember the gut and brain connection we talked about? A happy mind means a happy gut and vice versa. When you’re stressed, it can take a toll on your overall health. Relaxing is a lot easier said than done with the busy lives we lead, but practicing self-care for stress management is an essential part of holistic gut health. Try out these methods:
- Mindfulness Exercises
It’s never a bad thing to stay hydrated, but drinking plenty of water will help you maintain a healthy gut. Try to drink 64 ounces of water a day. It can be easy to forget to hydrate during a busy day, but bringing a water bottle with you can ensure you’re getting your daily dose of H2O.
Improve Gut Health With a Holistic Medicine Course
If you’re interested in learning more ways to improve gut health, sign up for our Free Holistic Medicine Course! There are many moving parts when it comes to gut health and leaky gut syndrome, and this course will teach you everything you need to know.
Our course includes videos, downloadable content, and much more to make sure you always have access to the tools you need to practice this holistic approach. The course materials were meticulously curated by naturopathic doctors to assist with your transformation and deeper healing.
We cover topics such as inflammatory foods to avoid and an in-depth look at just how important gut health is to your overall well-being. If you sign up today, you can get the free holistic medicine course and eBook to start learning! Your gut and your mind will be happy and healthy before you know it.