The Clean team is a stellar group of nutritionists, wellness coaches, chefs, and medical professionals all helping Dr. Junger’s Clean Program clients through different levels of healing and detoxification. In his latest book, Clean Gut, a sequel of sorts to the best-selling and simply-titled, Clean, Dr. Junger and his team dial in even deeper on the importance of gut health – the root of so many illnesses and conditions.
We asked our friends Jenny and Jessi at Clean to unwrap the topic of gut health a little for us all. Too often, we assume that gut health relates only to those with gluten sensitivities or conditions related directly with bad digestion, but the truth is that what’s going on in your gut determines so much of what is going on through out your body and mind! Jenny Nelson and Jessi Heinze are breaking it down…
Why should we focus on our guts? Because a healthy gut means overall optimal health for the body and mind. When we say gut, we actually mean the whole digestive system, as outlined by Dr. Alejandro Junger in his new book, Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health.
Digestion begins in the mouth but it doesn’t stop there. Digestion is actually a long process through the body involving many factors. If something is amiss in your digestive tract, it can have far-reaching negative effects in the body and the mind. If digestion effecting the mind surprises you, consider this: A large percentage of serotonin is actually produced in our guts, or what is commonly referred to as our “second brains.” So when your gut isn’t functioning properly and serotonin isn’t being produced, or it isn’t reaching the “first brain” in your head, depression, seasonal-affective disorder, mood swings, lowered immunity, and nerve issues are quick to follow.
Serotonin isn’t the only thing produced in our gut. We also have a constantly changing population of bacteria, good and bad. We need both to keep our bodies in balance overall, but for many people in today’s modern world, an imbalance with more bad bacteria than good makes them sick. An overgrowth of bad bacteria can lead to yeast problems like candida, IBS, and general poor health.
Eating lots of fermented foods rich in probiotics, avoiding antibiotics whenever possible, taking a probiotic supplement, and avoiding refined, processed and sugary foods will help keep the good bacteria flourishing and the bad bacteria in check. If someone is seriously out of balance, a gut specific program, like the one Dr. Junger outlines, will really help.
Since our immune systems lie primarily in the gut, it also makes sense that an overgrowth of bad bacteria, and overall gut imbalance will lead to lowered immunity and we’ll be run down, sick and more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. Compromised gut health is a pre-cursor to any autoimmune disease. Probiotics, antioxidant-rich foods, eliminating trigger foods and toxins, healing the gut and rebuilding up the good bacteria are all part of supporting the immune system so you can stay well.
Chronic inflammation, as seen in arthritis, is also linked to gut health. Problems like leaky gut, inadequate beneficial bacteria, and an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut can all contribute to chronic inflammation, so add chronic inflammation to the list of all the overwhelming reasons for keeping our guts healthy and supported!
Our insides can also greatly affect our outsides. Chronic skin issues like acne, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis can be primarily linked to our gut health. In fact, one study has linked pathogenic bacterial overgrowth to acne, showing that those with a bacterial infection are ten times more likely to have skin disruptions. Probiotics and a nutrient-dense diet are a great way to combat problem skin and a compromised gut.
Proper nutritional support is key in healing and boosting the immune system. It is important to support our bodies with all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to fuel our system. The higher your nutrient reserves are, the stronger your immune system can be. Gut health is crucial for proper digestion, and the assimilation and absorption of nutrients through food. When the gut is in poor shape, you cannot break down and absorb food properly. Not only do you miss out on necessary vitamins and minerals when this happens, but it can also cause a lot of inflammation and confusion in the body. When a food isn’t broken down fully and the gut is damaged, larger particles of the food may enter the bloodstream and cause the immune system to launch an attack, because it sees your lunch as an intruder rather than a meal. Some food sensitivities and allergy-like symptoms can be caused by this chain of events. As you heal your gut with proper diet and some supportive supplements like digestive enzymes and probiotics, you may notice that you are able to tolerate more foods, and you no longer have seasonal allergy symptoms.
Toxic foods and chemicals are not the only causes of gut damage. Toxic thoughts can cause trouble, too. Stress has a major effect on your health overall, and it can really do a number on your gut. You may notice changes in your digestion or elimination when you’re stressed, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Chronic stress may lead to larger gut problems like IBS, GERD or ulcers. Some studies have shown that stress slows digestion and elimination, encourages overgrowth of bad bacteria, and even compromises the intestinal barrier – making it difficult to properly absorb foods and keep foreign invaders out – and can make you more susceptible to illness and disease by weakening the immune system.
Learn More….Win your own copy of Clean Gut!
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