Do you know how to improve your gut health naturally to positively affect your everyday life? What do you know about how your digestive tract works? Your gut is your second brain!
Your Second Brain…
“Your digestive tract is technically known as the enteric nervous system. This second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut. That tube is called the alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters from end to end. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system”. (According to Dr. Michael Gershon. He is the chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Gershon is an expert in the nascent field of neurogastroenterology and author of the 1998 book The Second Brain (HarperCollins).)
100 million neurons! That’s incredible! And this is all done systematically. No, not by precise thoughts from the brain in your head to the digestive tract. It is a complex and effective system that does more than just breaking down foods. Researchers believe that even our emotions are influenced by what is happening in our gut.
It’s not just an upset stomach…
When I was a kid I used to get an upset stomach when I got really excited, especially before field trips and such. As I moved on with my day, the stomach “butterflies” would usually settle down and I would enjoy my day. How I wish I had had essential oils to help me out back then!
What do I do first to improve my gut health naturally?
First, a lot depends on the specific issues you are having, but almost always beginning with WHAT you are eating is the best place to start. This won’t come as a big surprise to you that eating lean meats and dark leafy greens is where to begin. To have good gut health, you have to feed it nutrient dense foods. However, one thing I have noticed as I am getting older is that I often don’t break down my food as efficiently as I once did.
This happened to me…
When it comes to breaking down protein and fats, some of us struggle. That struggle is painful. This is what happened to me. My family and I went out for a special steak dinner and over-nighter up at resort near us. I was so excited!
We went to a lovely steak dinner with all the heavy trimmings. I have had meals like this before and never had a problem. But this night things changed. After dinner, my stomach started to get bloated, then cramping and finally excruciating pain that wouldn’t go away. I could find nothing to help. Even my essential oils I often used for digestive issues didn’t help. So, finally my husband and son “carried” me out to our car and we went to the emergency room! I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even sit in the wheelchair. Not exactly how I had envisioned the evening going!
At the emergency room they did an MRI and gave me some pain killers. That was a great relief! However, they were never able to actually figure out what had gone wrong. While I was so grateful for their skilled help, I needed to find out “why” that had happened to me, and make sure it NEVER happened again!
Has this ever happened to you? Something similar perhaps?
Sometimes you have to do some research!
After meeting with a nutritionist I learned more about my gut health, and I discovered a few things. One, my gall bladder didn’t seem to be working to digest any fats I ate as well as it should be. If this is too much info, I apologize, but we are talking gut health here which means we have to include how the body is dealing with waste. Yep, your poop. Gross but necessary. It’s just true, if your poop floats, that’s a dead giveaway that you are not breaking down your fats. Fat floats in water, thus if it isn’t being broken down and used, it will make your poop float.
One recipe I use for gallbladder health is to eat sauteed beet greens with sea salt every day. Thank you Kaylene McCrary, nutritionist! (Check her out here: https://www.kalenentp.com/) And guess what? It made a difference! Less floaties…it was a start!
Then I learned more about digestive enzymes. So…I started using Terrazyme much more religiously! In fact I use it several times a day. And guess what? No floaties! Success! And I know and can feel I am getting more nutrients out of the food I am eating because I have more energy and less bloating. Yay!
One of the things that really makes a difference is to keep a food journal on what you eat and then how you feel afterwards. This will help you identify any foods that may not be serving your body as well as you might like. Big culprits are usually packaged foods with preservatives, or highly processed foods.
Eat more fresh, and organic foods as much a you can. Keep processed sugar out or to a minimum too. This will really start to pay off.
The Dirty Dozen
That being said, here are some foods that it is recommended you ALWAYS buy organic if possible to limit your exposure to pesticides and other toxins. My nutritionist friend suggested this list, so I’ll share it with you:
Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, Nectarines, Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Cherries, Pears, Tomatoes, Celery and Potatoes. I’d also include hot peppers and sweet bell peppers.
Buy these organic because you often eat the skins. That’s where the pesticides are. So take note! If you are eating the outside, you want it to be organic. Pesticides mess with your gut… pure and simple. It upsets the balance and can cause all sorts of issues from diabetes and varied gastrointestinal issues. So do the best you can. I recognize that it is more expensive to eat organic, so buy organic when you can and wash these fruits and veggies extra well.
The Clean 15
On the other side of the dirty dozen are these foods that you don’t have to worry about so much when it comes to buying organic. Here is the list of the Clean 15.
Avocado, Corn (actually keep this veggie to a minimum), Pineapple, Onion, Papaya, Asparagus, Eggplant, Frozen Sweet Peas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Cabbage, Honeydew, and Mushrooms.
This list will get you started. We have a lot more to talk about for your gut health. Just know it’s not “normal” to have bloating, upset stomach and discomfort. There are natural, safe, effective things you can do. I will share more in upcoming blogs. In the meantime, you might want to check this one out on “What Supplements Should I Take Daily?”. This will also aid in your gut health. For now, you have the basics. You are on your way to a healthier gut!