Lately it seems like everyone is talking about the gut. Aside from a location where you digest food and where some instincts come from, why is the gut suddenly so important?
People are finally realizing that gut health is very closely tied to overall well-being. So if your gut is a trash heap, your overall health is probably…well it’s suffering.
But just because you ate like a college kid, or you enjoy flame-broiled, cheesy goodness occasionally doesn’t mean you’re condemned to an unhealthy future. Gut health is dynamic! You can make up for bad habits and lost time by rebuilding your gut in a healthy way. The important thing is to get started.
How Do You Define a Healthy Gut?
So, what is gut health? Most natural health enthusiasts would probably say it’s a state of balance where everything flows along properly, and nothing is urgent…or strained. Think of it this way: when your gut is healthy and feeling good, it doesn’t hold you back from life.
Signs of a healthy gut:
- You feed your body nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils.
- Your body breaks down your food efficiently, providing needed energy.
- You eliminate waste easily and regularly. No half-hour potty sessions playing games on your phone. You don’t even keep magazines in the bathroom!
- You have plenty of friendly flora in your gut microbiome. If this sounds like a foreign language, don’t worry. Just keep reading.
- You feed gut flora with the fiber it loves to munch.
- You feel a normal sense of energy throughout your day and enthusiasm for life. One gut health specialist says that you have a 90% chance of feeling “grumpy and sluggish” if your gut is not healthy. You ain’t got time for that!
- You’re able to participate in the things you love—whether that’s travel, camping, shopping, going to a show, visiting friends or eating out—without worrying about where the nearest bathroom is or if you have antacids in your purse.
Gut health is NOT:
- Plagued with gas
- Riddled with discomfort, nausea or malaise
- Benefited by stimulants like coffee, soda pop and certain medications
- A reliance on laxatives or bicarbonates
- The same for every person
- Daisies and unicorns
How Do You “Get Gut Health”?
In general, most people looking to strengthen their gut benefit from certain habits and dietary suggestions.
Diet Sets the Stage for Gut Health
- Eat more fiber. Bring on the whole wheat and other grains, and even the fiber supplements. The American Heart Association recommend that adults consume 25-30 grams of fiber each day. But most of us get far less.
- Think fresh. How’s your fresh veggie and fresh fruit intake? Salads might not be your thing, but they might be exactly what your gut is craving! Add fresh every day to support your gut.
- Fantastic Flora. Your gut is teeming with trillions of bacteria. Some are good guys, some are not. When you’re sick and take antibiotics, you lose lots of your friendly bacteria too. And that does a number on gut balance. Replenish the good flora with probiotics from fermented foods like tofu, kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut. Not your flavors? Take probiotic supplements.
A Clean Gut is a Happy Gut. So Let’s Detox.
- Greens are naturally detoxifying. Chlorophyll, the pigment found in green leaves, has a natural ability to freshen, energize and help support pathways in the body that remove toxins. Give your gut something green every day.
- Water is essential. It makes everything move along properly and reduces transit time (the time it takes for waste to move through your colon and be eliminated). It also helps with the flushing of toxins. Find a delicious water source (consider a filtering pitcher) and get your H2 Oh yeah!
- Moving your body helps move your bowel, so elimination comes more easily. This helps you get rid of waste and toxins that can otherwise weigh you down and cause havoc in the gut. Moving can be as simple as walking 20 minutes a day. When it’s nice out, go hiking, biking or throw a frisbee around in the park. When it’s not, plan indoor workouts like swimming, dancing, yoga, core work or cardio. If that sounds challenging, just walk around the block or go up and down your stairs. Make it a habit to move every day and see how well your gut responds.
Benefits of Gut Health
- Feeling better. Seriously, if you don’t feel good, it’s most likely a function of your gut. Start making changes and see how quickly you begin feeling better.
- Smelling better. An unhealthy gut can be linked to noxious body odor and bad breath.
- Sounding better. In this case, it’s a reduction in sounds we’re going for…
- Less time in the bathroom. Less sitting, straining or exploding.
- More freedom in life. Think about travel and certain hobbies. Gut issues can make some normal activities very difficult.
- Clearer thinking. Believe it or not, your gut is connected to your brain. Some experts even refer to the gut as the second brain. Gut instincts are real. Keeping your gut healthy may actually help you think better.
The Signs of Good Gut Health
In many ways, the signs of good gut health are the absence of the signs of bad gut health:
- Not rushing to the bathroom within 10 minutes of eating a meal.
- Not spending too much time on the toilet. Two or three minutes really should do the job.
- Lack of unusual or heinous odors emanating from your body
- Less belching
- Feeling energetic
- Clearer thinking and focus
- Clear skin. When your skin erupts, something’s not right in your gut.
- Good mood. Yes, a happy gut helps you feel happier.
While not necessarily the greatest benchmark, a waist measurement under 40 inches for men and under 35 inches for women is associated with better heart health. (Mayo Clinic) And it’s a good general yardstick for gut health, as is a BMI between 18-24.
Support Gut Health with Simple Supplementation
- Probiotic Eleven. Provides 11 strains of friendly bacteria to rebalance your gut microbiome.
- Liquid Chlorophyll ES. Helps detoxify the gut, reduce body odor and improve well-being.
- CleanStart® Mild. This 14-day program gently cleanses waste from the body to support energy and promote well-being.
- Psyllium Hulls. Non-GMO psyllium from India supports elimination with soluble fiber.
- Proactazyme®. Vegan-friendly enzymes help reduce bloating and indigestion.
- Intestinal Soothe & Build. This traditional botanical blend relieves occasional bloating as it supports detoxification and cleansing.
- Gentle Move. Softens stool and supports regularity in 3 different ways.
- Bowel Detox. This unique blend of fibers, cascara sagrada, charcoal and other ingredients supports digestion and promotes regular waste elimination.
Gut Health Hits Home
Several years ago, our high school-aged daughter told us she hadn’t been feeling well. She said that she felt nauseated or gross a lot of the time. She had always been a meat and potatoes kind of kid who also loves pizza, chocolate and soda. Knowing she isn’t much of a veggie eater, we asked about her diet and her bathroom routine. She assured me that she was going #2 every day.
To show we were concerned and devoted, we took her to the doctor and had a few basic tests done. They all came back normal. So we stepped it up a notch and did the next few tests the doctor suggested. Each test seemed more specialized…and expensive.
Eventually we saw a gut specialist who recommended a scan of her body after she drank some delicious barium. 😨 The scans came back, and we met with the doctor again. It all came down to severe constipation. She was full of poop. I couldn’t believe my eyes at the appearance and size of her colon on her scans. The specialist prescribed a fiber drink and a laxative for a few months to help her eliminate better. And we received a nice fat bill for the scans and visit.
If your teens eat like my teen, chances are good that they are not eliminating well and that their gut might be making them feel sick. Help them change their diet and feel better.