If you read this blog regularly you will know that we advocate good gut health as central to good health and wellbeing. We remind about the importance of diet to the point of being boring – sorry but it really matters!
We tell you about the importance of organic food, of not living on sugar and processed foods and of being mindful about what you put in your mouth. As the saying goes “rubbish in, rubbish out” this applies to your body as well as your computer.
In this time of constant busy lives we want to explore gut health a little more.
What there can be no doubt of is that the identification of food sensitivity has created an incredible surge in demand for specialised foods. People began to understand that food could dramatically impact their health either positively or negatively.
Gluten free, dairy free and sugar free foods and diets are no longer unusual. The popularity of the vegan diet has soared to the level that supermarkets are increasing their stocks of vegan ranges. People are recognising that some of the foods they are eating are not supporting their health and so looking to veganism as the answer.
Specialised diets have come to the fore because so many people are experiencing gut problems. We have to ask the question why we have so many gut issues.
Nutritionists and health professionals have been developing their knowledge of the gut and its impact on our overall health. An idea that has gained recognition over the last few years is that our gut is more than a food processor.
On a physical level there is no doubt in my mind that our gut health in imperative to our overall health. The gut processes food which provides our energy. If this is not working correctly how can we function to our best ability?
Now let’s consider the enteric nervous system which contains 500 million neurons lives within your gut, stomach and intestines. Neurotransmitters are whizzing messages all around the gut. It seems that these messages could include emotional responses and thoughts.
This makes sense consider how many times you have said or heard someone say “I have a gut feeling”, “It hit me in the guts”. These phrases are all part of our daily language and indicate that emotions are potentially expressed through our gut...
The gut has even been called the second brain – our emotional response centre. This makes a lot of sense to me. Working as a homeopath I see time and time again that emotions are frequently the root cause of many illnesses that my patients experience.
There is far more attention being paid to mental health now. Indeed, this is a subject we have written about on several occasions.
When we have an emotional issue we may feel:
- Tired because we don’t sleep well
- Driven to eat to make ourselves feel better
- Reclusive – we don’t want to be sociable
- Depressed or sad
- Frustrated or angry
Of course, there are many more reactions but this highlights the variety of ways emotional distress can express itself. For me, it stands to reason that these feelings will display themselves physically.
Emotions and our responses can cause different gut reactions:
- Stress increases cortisol, we need to pay attention because if this is not managed we risk adrenal or thyroid problems
- If we are upset we may comfort eat fatty foods, lots of processed food or drink too much alcohol. When we do we challenge our liver causing it to overwork and putting it under strain
- If we get anxious or depressed we may take medication. It is possible that medications can disturb the balance of bacteria in our gut leading to immune responses
- When we feel tired and need more energy we often reach for sugary products. High sugar diets can lead to a candida disturbance in our gut
- Busy lives and eating on the run can lead to insufficient chewing of our food. This leads to indigestion and the use of antacids which can stress our gut
How do we keep our gut healthy?
- Healthy diet obviously!
- Use probiotics to ensure a good balance of bacteria in your gut
- Limit or eliminate sugar and processed foods
- Chew your food at least 30 times per mouthful
- Avoid antacids and medication if you can
- Manage your alcohol intake
- Manage stress
- Read our blogs on stress
- Focus on a good work / life balance
- Be mindful
- Take time to breathe
There are so many conditions relating to the gut that clearly far more research is needed and indeed is ongoing. However, consider some of the diseases we have today:
- Food sensitivity and intolerance
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
All of these conditions involve inflammation which of course is the basis of chronic disease. Cast yourself back to Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, who said “All disease begins in the gut”. Now in the 21st century we seem to be recognising the wisdom of this understanding.
We plan to cover the various gut conditions in more detail so watch this space!
Our message for today is that you need to look after both your food intake and your emotions. By doing this you help yourself to maintain a healthy gut and therefore a healthy you.
We will keep you informed as we discover more. We would love to hear your views and experiences!