We all know someone who is making an effort to improve their health. What steps are they taking? Exercising, not drinking sodas, and eating less processed foods are common first steps.
In my years of study and observation, I have come to the firm conclusion that health begins in the gut … and the flip side is equally true … that disease also begins in the gut.
The gut – or you may prefer to call it your digestive system – is a major protective frontier for your body. Food and drink coming into your body through your mouth encounter hydrochloric acid in the stomach and bile in the small intestines. These are just a few of the mechanisms by which your body protects itself from outside intruders, including germs and toxins.
Your gut is home to more than two-thirds of your immune system. In our antibacterial culture it can be a shock to learn that much of that immune system is based on the bacterial colony in your small and large intestines. Surprise! When good bacteria is supported, you benefit. Digging into this symbiotic relationship and all it represents for us and for them is a topic for another newsletter.
You may have heard it said that ‘we are what we eat,’ but really ‘we are what we absorb.’ Once you eat food you must rely on your digestive system to break it down into forms to that can be absorbed to fuel your body’s various functions, from cells to tissues to organs. Symptoms are signs that something’s amiss.
Constipation and diarrhea are symptoms of gut dysfunction, not diseases. Chronic diarrhea can cause malnutrition or dehydration, while constipation can build up toxicity in the body. When these are a regular part of your life, you need to seek someone who can help you find and correct the root cause.
Stress has an impact on digestive function by shifting your body into the control of the sympathetic nervous system which shuts down focus on digestion, thereby slowing secretion of digestive juices and motility.
Good digestion is dependent on proper levels of stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes working together to break food down into its nutrients which are then absorbed to build your body one cell at a time. These functions can dwindle with age, but are also hindered by dietary and lifestyle choices.
Your health is dependent on choices you make every day. Some of these are clear and some may require the guidance of a functional medicine practitioner – a coach like me who can educate and support you as you incorporate changes to support your body.