July 15, 2024
Gut Health for Weight Loss, Digestion, and Looking and Feeling Awesome

Gut Health for Weight Loss, Digestion, Looking and Feeling Awesome

Gut health… let’s talk about it. You’ve probably heard those health gurus throwing this phrase around, or your doctor mentioned it, am I right? Even some of the yogurt brands now focus on how they help gut health.

That’s smart, because gut health is basically at the heart of all of our ailments, health problems and even long-term wellness as we age.

The condition of your gut lining is important. Things like pH balance, digestive juices, and of course, good versus bad bacteria, all factor in.



A Healthy Gut is a Well Balanced Gut

What makes a good, strong gut? It comes down to science, pure and simple. The pH balance of the gut lining should be slightly acidic. This will help your gut process the food you eat, as well as fight infection.

You may recall 8th grade science class, learning about hCL or hydrochloric acid, and how it breaks down food. You may have performed an experiment where you poured hCL on protein and watched the acid “eat” the protein.

This same acid is present in your gut, meant to help break down your food — just like the protein in that test tube from science class. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach also kills bad bacteria.

After the gut breaks down the protein, the enzymes of your gut then split the proteins in the food so they may be assimilated.



The Healthy Gut Lining: Mucous, Enzymes, and Good Bacteria

Just like your mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, esophagus and lungs; and for women, the vagina; your gut has a mucosal lining.

When you think of what condition your gut must be in to fully digest your food and assimilate nourishment from food, consider your saliva. Your saliva contains enzymes that help to break down your food. That’s why we salivate at the thought, sight, or smell of yummy food. Our body is preparing for digestion.

To use a non-medical term, your gut lining works best when it’s slippery and juicy – again, think of what your mouth feels like when you’re salivating at the thought of a delicious meal.

A healthy gut is lined with a protective mucosal coating which is meant to prevent the acidic environment of your gut from harming the walls of your gut.

How does your gut work to digest food?

If all conditions are met (pH of the gut is more acidic; healthy mucosal lining; good bacteria winning the fight, enzymes are present and active)… your gut will be able to fully and completely process the food you eat.

The National Institute of Health explains it as such:

“There are lots of tiny glands in the lining of the stomach. These glands make digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, mucus and bicarbonate. Gastric juice is made up of digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and other substances that are important for absorbing nutrients.”



Good Gut Health and Why It’s so Important

What happens when your gut is healthy and processing all of your food completely?

  • Your body is able to use most if not all of the nutrition you intake
  • Optimal digestive function – food waste does not remain in the gut to cause digestive discomfort, unpleasant symptoms and side complications
  • You have more energy, less fatigue
  • Regular bathroom habits resume without discomfort
  • Quality of sleep improves because your stomach is calm
  • Immune function improves thanks to that first line of defense – your gut lining mucosa and stomach acid
  • Mood improves – we tend to experience things like headache, irritability, restlessness, fatigue and low mood when digestion is off
  • Reproductive health improves
  • All other body functions work better

Good Bacteria, Bad Bacteria, What’s That All About?

Also known as your microbiome, your gut serves as a breeding ground for both good and bad bacteria.

The good bacteria break down the foods that you eat. As a result, your body is better able to absorb the nutrition from those foods.

The “bad” bacteria thrive on sugar in your gut, and flourish when conditions are too alkaline. Bad bacteria “use” the nourishment from your food, essentially robbing your body of some of what it should be taking from your food.

Fun fact: you can “seed” your gut with good bacteria by choosing nourishing, whole foods as part of your regular diet.

Healthline advises the following to improve your gut health: “To combat leaky gut, eat foods that promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including fruits, cultured dairy products, healthy fats, lean meats, and fibrous and fermented vegetables.”



Gut Health, and What Not to Do

Your gut needs you to be kinder to it by choosing the right foods and having good self care. Here are some things most of us do that WON’T help your gut health:

  • Eating too many processed foods and not enough whole foods
  • Intake of sugar and alcohol – sugar changes the pH of our gut to alkaline, making it a place where bad bacteria and fungus like yeast thrive
  • Stress – being in “fight or flight” takes our body out of parasympathetic nervous system function which is needed for digestion, among other important background functions
  • Eating too fast, not chewing your food thoroughly, not giving your saliva a chance to begin breaking down what you eat

Leaky Gut: What You Should Know

Harvard Health defines Leaky Gut Syndrome as such:

“An unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the tissues beneath it. This may trigger inflammation and changes in the gut flora (normal bacteria) that could lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond. The research world is booming today with studies showing that modifications in the intestinal bacteria and inflammation may play a role in the development of several common chronic diseases.”

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

  • Digestive discomfort after eating, including pain, bloating, gas, nausea, loose stools, diarrhea and constipation
  • Irregular bowel habits – pooping too often or too little
  • Chronic fatigue and/or irregular sleep habits
  • Headaches and stomach aches
  • Frequent hunger, not feeling satiated after a meal
  • Irritability, moodiness
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Sores in the mouth or on the tongue
  • Food sensitivities (this may be cyclical – the more foods you eat that you’re sensitive to, the more stomach troubles you experience, therefore the more foods you become sensitive to)
  • Inflammation in the body
  • Anxiety or depression

Clinical Herbalist Cheryl Karcher of Hilltop Herbals blends herbal teas that help the body heal naturally. Her Gut Health Tea Blend contains the following: Gotu kola, Yarrow, calendula, plantain, sarsaparilla, peppermint, linden- long infusion.

She says, “Gotu Kola, Centella asiatica, is best known as an effective brain tonic, but among other therapeutic virtues, it is an effective vulnerary, for tissue that is hot, and inflamed . As such, the tissue of our gut mucosa, when irritated, inflamed due to leaky gut, IBD, Chrohn’s, etc, will benefit from our plant ally, Gotu Kola.”

Follow Cheryl on her Facebook page here.

How to Improve the Mucosal Lining of Your Gut:

If you are concerned about health effects of having a leaky gut, consider talking with a doctor or holistic practitioner who can guide you.

  • A gastrointestinal specialist may run tests and recommend a course of action.
  • An allergist can help you identify food sensitivities.
  • A holistic practitioner can identify herbal remedies to help you alleviate symptoms, soothe and heal your stomach.
  • Other wellness experts can guide you in self-care and wellness practices that relieve stress, such as yoga and meditation, to bring your body into the restful state required for healing.



Healing Your Gut: Other Good Health Practices to Try

Healing your gut will be a gradual process that starts with taking better care of yourself. Here are some good health practices to incorporate into your routine, along with any medical or wellness care you may be receiving from professional sources.

Limit or eliminate sugar. This includes foods that contain table sugar, such as desserts and sweets. Eating too many foods like white bread and pasta can also cause a rise in blood sugar, which changes the pH of your gut lining and can cause bad bacteria to grow.

Limit or avoid alcohol which will increase your blood sugar and throw off your gut balance.

Eat whole foods, including lean meats, lots of vegetables and fruits, plant-based protein, healthy fats, and whole grains, as part of your gut-friendly daily food intake.

Add a probiotic supplement, or eat plain yogurt with live, active cultures, to increase the amount of gut-friendly bacteria.

Gut Feeling Probiotics from Love Wellness – Order on Amazon

Stay away from processed foods – boxed mac and cheese is a good example of non gut-friendly food.

If you take medications, ask your doctor how these may be affecting the health of your gut, and what he or she recommends.

Mama’s Lemonade Recipe for Good Gut Health – from MPoweryogawellness

Wellness Coach and Warren County, NJ Yoga Instructor Mary Walker-Golden shares her recipe for gut-health boosting Mama’s Lemonade.

Gut health lemonade recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1.5c warm water
  • 2 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tb honey
  • .5 tsp sea salt

To Make:

  • Heat the water on the stove top to warm or just under boiling.
  • Add the lemon, honey and salt to a mug.
  • Pour the warm to hot water over the mixture. Stir and sip.

Join Mary’s Worthy Goddess Club online for more great wellness tips like this one.



Add in Foods That Nourish and Heal Your Gut

  • Try a supplement like Slippery Elm which coats and protects the lining of the gut, giving it time to heal and recover.
  • Aloe vera may be taken daily, either as a liquid supplement, or directly from the leaf of the aloe vera plant, taken with water.
  • Fresh ginger, added to food, or brewed in a tea, can improve the health of your gut.
  • Add bone broth to your daily diet. Bone broth is rich in collagen which repairs the cells of the body. Combine with vitamin C, or vitamin C-rich foods, to activate healing properties of the collagen.
  • Eat garlic to improve the health of your gut by eliminating bacteria and fungus, such as yeast.

Slippery Elm Helps Heal the Gut – Order on Amazon

Garlic for Gut Health

Stanford Medicine cites garlic as having the following properties:

“Garlic has been used as an antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. It may help the body resist or destroy viruses and other microorganisms. It does this by boosting the immune system. Garlic is also claimed to fight infections.”

Other foods that coat and protect the gut lining: oatmeal, banana, apple, kiwi, okra, papaya, pomegranate. Think of any whole foods that have a slippery texture to coat and protect the stomach.

Simmer a mix of whole cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, and black pepper and drink with tea and milk, to help heal and balance your gut.

Drink antioxidant green tea daily to promote healing of the body, including your gut. Green tea also calms the nervous system, which will help to settle your stomach if it’s over-active.

Choose healthy oils, such as olive, coconut and avocado, to balance your gut bacteria.

Get Yourself Some Good Gut Health

Here’s a summary of steps to take in the name of helping the health of your gut:

  • Change your diet to include mostly whole foods, lean meats, healthy fats, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Add in gut-friendly foods, herbs, teas, supplements
  • Take a probiotic and/or eat plain yogurt with live, active cultures
  • Avoid sugar and alcohol
  • Reduce and relieve stress
  • Talk with your doctor(s) about how to improve the health of your gut

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