Gut health is another topic which we see glossed over so often when it comes to articles online and fitness information given to people. You’re always told, “just exercise and eat healthy”.. but what if it isn’t that simple. If you have poor gut health, or leaky gut, your body isn’t even going to absorb the nutrients from your food correctly, which is why it’s so important to fix any problems in your gut as soon as you notice them.
Poor gut health is often associated with other illnesses such as fibromyalgia, and PCOS, where the stomach has gone on to develop food intolerances, most commonly seen are gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance. It can also eventually lead to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and other food sensitivities and bacterial imbalances.
So what does your gut depend on to stay healthy?
- A balanced intestinal bacteria;
- A fully intact mucosa lining; and
- A healthy immune system.
When the gut wall is irritated or has become inflamed it can lead to a condition called Leaky Gut. Leaky Gut is exactly as the name suggests, and the stomach mucosa lining has become permeable. This can lead to malnutrition, a bacterial imbalance, and as mentioned previously, food intolerances: gluten, casein, lectin, fructose, lactose. This lack of nutrients isn’t the only problem, the Leaky Gut can also act as a ‘vacancy’ sign to bad bacteria looking for a new place to stay, and once those guys are in your body is going to signal and immune or inflammatory response, and you can end up getting quite ill. Leaky Gut is often tied to other conditions such as allergies, type 1 diabetes, mental illness (depression, schizophrenia), skin inflammation, poor insulin signalling (leading to PCOS and type 2 diabetes), and even asthma.
Things that can cause a leaky gut include prolonged use of antibiotics (leading to the destruction of too much ‘good’ bacteria, excessive consumption of sugar or refined carbohydrates, bacteria, parasites, yeast, stress, and excessive alcohol consumption. The symptoms that your body will use to attempt to alert you of Leaky Gut will show up on the outside of your body and may be hard for a GP to diagnose because your new complaints seemingly don’t have a source. These symptoms include: joint pain, fibromyalgia, sleep disturbances, fever, anaemia, skin irritations, prolonged fatigue, regular headaches, arthritis, and nutrient deficiencies.
How to repair your gut
The following is a list of some things you can do to ensure the integrity of your gut good/bad bacteria balance and make sure that your body is absorbing all the nutrients possible from your food:
- Eliminate inflammatory foods or drinks: highly processed sugars, and alcohols are the best place to start looking.
- Balance your gut bacteria: speak to your naturopath or nutritionist about this one, but naturopaths will be able to find out which specific brands of bacteria your body needs to help repair itself, a general ‘probiotic’ is not quite good enough for this.
- Remove sugar alcohols from your diet: these are found in chewing gum, ‘sugar free’ products, some protein powders, and protein bars.
- Relax: consider slowing down. Stress can alter the state of your body dramatically.
- Bone broth: consuming bone broth in the morning prior to eating can help repair the mucosa lining in your stomach.