In my own health journey and those of many of my clients, optimizing gut health has been game-changing. I want to share the experience of one client I worked with recently. She came to me with embarrassing bloating and gas, joint pain, brain fog, and anxiety. We worked on balancing blood sugar, removing foods that caused symptoms to increase (which we discovered by doing an elimination diet), and after identifying some gut imbalances on a stool test we treated them with herbs and nutrients for several months. Not only was she able to reintroduce some of the foods that had previously caused symptoms, but she was more productive at work, had more energy, less anxiety, and significantly reduced joint pain.
As a nutritionist, I believe that food provides information for our bodies. What nourishes each of us is individual and can be different. For example, a vegetarian diet might make your body sing, and mine break down or vice versa. Food can be good medicine and some of it can cause problems. Besides looking at what my clients are eating, when they are eating, and how much they are eating, I work with them to support better gut health.
It is not unusual for a client with joint pain, headaches, mood issues, or cardiovascular issues to ask why would we want to look at what is going in the gut. We are learning that gut health is critical to preventing and managing chronic health issues.
The health of our gut and microbiome is an exciting new frontier and we are still learning more about it. These statistics from Liz Lipski’s book, The Art of Digestive Wellness, 5th Edition provide some context. Our gut …
- if spread flat our digestive system would cover a tennis court
- houses roughly 70% of our immune system
- has as many bacteria living in it as we have cells in our body and 150x more DNA in our microbiome than in the cells of our body (are we really who we think we are?)
- is where 80-90% of our serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that plays a key role in mood, sleep, digestion, appetite, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting, and sleep and wake cycles, is produced
When I refer to digestive or gut health, I am including digestion and absorption, diversity and richness of the microbiome, overgrowth of bacteria, yeasts, and other pathogens, elimination, and inflammation in the GI tract. What we eat and drink, our relationship with stress, how we sleep and move, the medications we take, and our exposure to pathogens can affect our gut health.
When our gut health becomes compromised, we see health issues develop — sometimes we notice digestive symptoms, but often we notice symptoms in other parts of our body. Just like the old song (the hip bone is connected to the leg bone …) says, the different parts of our bodies are all connected.
Some of the chronic health conditions that can have their roots in gut health are:
- Allergies, sinus congestion, and asthma
- Autoimmune disease
- Brain health including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain fog, headaches, mood, anxiety, and depression
- Bone, joint, and muscle pain including fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteopenia, and osteoporosis
- Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome
- Digestive Issues including bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea
- Estrogen regulation conditions including PCOS, endometriosis, and menopause symptoms
- Fatty liver disease
- Food sensitivities
- Kidney disease
- Skin conditions including acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Unwanted weight loss
- Yeast infections
This is quite a list!
Wondering if your health issues are menopause related or rooted in an imbalance in your gut health? You can reach out to me for a complimentary call.
In the meantime, focus on eating non-inflammatory foods and balancing your blood sugar and hormones.