The gut is like the "second brain" because it controls so many vital functions of the body such as your digestion and immunity.
The problem is that when your gut health becomes imbalanced, it can lead to all kinds of dysfunction and dis-ease.
In fact, the famous ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, first recognised the importance of gut health by teaching and proclaiming that, "ALL dis-ease begins in the gut".
Since gut health is so important to your overall health and wellbeing, it's important to understand the main threats to gut health so that you know what to avoid.
Here, we reveal the most common signs of gut health imbalances and five of the most significant threats to your gut health, which unfortunately, most health care practitioners rarely talk about.
Signs & Symptoms Of An Unhealthy Gut
Your digestive system plays host to over 100 trillion bacteria, also known as your “gut microbiome”, which when thrown out of balance can easily cause many different health problems.
It's important to know that there are "good" and "bad" bacteria and the key is to ensure that the colonies of "good" bacteria are sufficient enough to keep the "bad" bacteria at bay.
Additionally, your exposure to certain foods and lifestyle conditions greatly impacts the "good" versus "bad" bacteria balance.
Some of the most common signs that you have access bad bacteria in the gut include:
- Ongoing digestive problems
- Acne and skin conditions
- Food sensitivities and intolerances
- Irritability and anxiety
- Low Energy and constant fatigue
Over the longer term, poor gut health can even lead to more serious diseases such as:
- Auto-Immune conditions
- Leaky Gut & IBS
- Stomach Ulcers and
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
So, What Are The Main Threats To Gut Health?
There are many factors which can cause poor gut health and in turn, some of the symptoms we've just described, however these are 5 of the most common threats:
1. Poor Diet
You are what you eat. Which means, the food you eat over time and distance has the greatest impact on your gut health and overall wellbeing.
A poor diet is one that is loaded with packaged and processed foods that make up about 80% of the products you'll find in supermarkets these days.
This means, unless you are truly conscious of the foods you buy and consume, chances are you'll be eating foods that are a big threat to your gut health.
Some of the foods that are the biggest threat to your gut health include:
- Refined grains - such as white bread, white flour, white rice, packaged cereals, cookies, cakes and pastries
- Refined sugars - such as white and brown cane sugar, corn sweetener, syrup, fruit juice concentrate, soft drinks, energy drinks, or any ingredient that ends in "ose" like fructose, dextrose and sucrose
- Processed Meats - such as salami, ham sausages, hot dogs and deli meats
- Factory-Farmed Dairy Products - such as homogenised and pasteurised milk
- Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils - such as corn oil, canola, cottonseed, sunflower, soy and grape seed oils.
All of these foods can plan havoc with the gut microbiome and should be replaced with whole food substitutes that have not been processed and refined.
When it comes to your diet, prioritise fresh, seasonal whole foods and shop locally whenever you can to avoid many of the chemicals that are used in transportation and storage from farm to supermarket.
Be sure also, eat plenty of "good" fats such as extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, avocados and even grass-fed butter. If you are going to consume animal products, only source pasture-raised, organic and hormone-free products.
For more on the types of foods to eat visit our blog, What Are Whole Foods? 7 Benefits Of A Whole Food Diet
Finally, for a healthy gut it's really important to include a variety of fermented foods in your diet because they contain natural probiotics that feed and strengthen the colonies of "good" bacteria in your gut.
Learn more in our blog, 6 Fermented Foods For A Healthy Gut
Unfortunately, along with the dramatic rise in use of prescription medications, antibiotics have become an overly used treatment in the health care industry as a remedy for even the most minor infections.
For all of their value as a medical invention, the problem with the unnecessary use of antibiotics is that they act like a "blanket bomb", wiping out ALL bacteria in the gut, including the good ones mentioned earlier.
This paves the way for the PH balance within the gut to become too acidic, encouraging the overgrowth of “bad” bacteria. As we now know, this is what throws out the gut health balance, impacting your digestive system, and in turn, your overall optimum health.
Some of the best natural foods with anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities include, garlic, ginger and oregano. Additionally, earth-made remedies such as colloidal silver and fulvic acid have been used for centuries as "natural" antibiotics due to their similar immune-boosting qualities. For this reason, these ingredients are the primary inclusions in our Nature's Silver Bullet immunity product which you can find in our store at tolmanselfcare.com
To repair any damage to the gut caused by antibiotics, it's important to eat a clean diet and include plenty of probiotic-rich fermented foods to help replenish and restore the levels of good bacteria in the gut.
Learn more in our blog Probiotics: Health Benefits & 7 Powerful Food Sources
3. Environmental Toxins
If you live in a city or urban area, unfortunately there is constant exposure to a range of environmental threats in the form of chemicals, heavy metals and EMF's present in the air, water, food and even structures and buildings that can be detrimental to your gut health.
Even though they may seem inescapable, it's a good idea to be conscious of your level of exposure to the following elements:
- Cigarette smoke
- Chemical and stagnant air environments
- Fluoride-treated town water
- Wifi & mobile phone use
Additionally, it's a good idea to limit factors in your immediate daily surrounds that cause you to feel constantly anxious or stressed if you want to take good care of your gut health.
Stress and anxiety are well known intangible factors that can greatly impact the microbiome/gut-health balance, so it's vital to embrace simple practices that help to reduce stress such as walking, moderate exercise, deep breathing and meditation as part of your daily routine.
You can learn more about ways to reduce your exposure to toxins in our blog, 5 Environmental Toxins To Avoid
Drinking too much alcohol, especially “distilled” types such as spirits, cocktails liqueurs, can be damaging to the good bacteria in your gut.
However, thanks to its polyphenol and natural ferment content, drinking a small amount of naturally brewed preservative-free beer and wines can actually be beneficial for your gut flora balance.
For thousands of years, these types of drinks have been considered sacraments that are actually beneficial to health when consumed responsibly and in moderation, so there's no need to totally avoid alcohol - just be conscious the types you choose to drink and don't over do it.
5. Lack of Exercise
It goes without saying that regular exercise is key to your long term health and well being.
The problem is that with all of today's conveniences and digital habits, many people have become accustomed to not exercising anywhere near as much as they should and wonder why they end up overweight, depressed or constantly feeling fatigued.
Regular exercise is vital to your gut health because of how it influences your metabolism, supports healthy digestion and promotes higher levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Not to mention, the impact that exercise has on your emotional wellbeing and as a remedy for stress relief.
Dedicate at least 30 minutes each day to exercise. It can be as simple as walking your dog to the park or along the beach, or as rigorous as doing a circuit or interval training class - based on your level of fitness and your goals.
The most important thing of all is to stay consistent with your daily exercise routine if you want to take care of your gut and support your overall health and wellbeing.
The Main Take Away
Your gut health is worth paying attention to because a healthy gut is one of the key factors that supports so many vital functions of the body and your overall health.
It starts with being conscious of the symptoms that may indicate that your gut health is out of balance in the first place.
Next, be aware of the main threats to your gut health (like we've shared with you here), and limit or avoid these threats by replacing them with better diet and lifestyle choices.
When you do these things, your gut health will become more robust. And this in turn will help you to develop stronger immunity, more energy, a greater resistance to sickness and dis-ease and healthier and happier you.
Tolman Self Care.