Stuck on coming up with a New Years resolution for 2022? Or maybe you have one already but well… it’s not quite working out the way you imagined already. Well look no further, I have one that isn’t too often talked about but will have a dramatic effect on your overall health- healing your gut!
Gut health is a trendy topic these days and for good reason. It truly is the “center” of optimal wellness. Want to know why and how? Here are 5, I must admit, very convincing reasons to prioritize it:
Boosts your immune system
Unfortunately we are still in a long pandemic that I’m sure everyone wishes was over back in 2020 when we thought the summer heat would somehow make COVID magically disappear. Almost 24 months later, here we are…sigh… BUT the good (and sometimes bad) news is that there is a link between good gut health and severity of COVID symptoms due to its influence on immune function (1).
The focus here of gut health is the microbiome, the community of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and others) that live in our bodies. Over 100 trillion microbes set up shop in our gut and outnumber human cells 10:1! A healthy microbiome is crucial in that it makes up around 70-80% of our immune system. One way is that certain immune cells are activated by the microbiome to help fight off bacterial infections and viruses, in turn leading to a strong immune response that attacks invaders.
It only makes sense then that healing your gut will boost your immune system! Whether it’s fighting the flu, the common cold, or COVID, a diverse and strong gut can save you a lot of sick days.
Gives you glowing skin
Do you struggle with annoying rashes, psoriasis, or acne? Poor gut health could be the cause. The gut-skin axis (yes we have one) is a bidirectional pathway between the gut and our skin. If our gut is off balance or inflamed, it will show up through our skin as well.
Dysbiosis, or the imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in our microbiome can lead to the breakdown of our intestinal wall lining (leaky gut). An overgrowth of bad bacteria can produce harmful substances that can then seep into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in our skin (2). This inflammation shows up as acne or other annoying skin flare-ups.
Healing your gut and intestinal lining, however, will do just the opposite. I have worked with several clients who have gained healthy, glowing skin once they started focusing on gut health.
Improves your mood and mental clarity
Have you ever had a “gut feeling” about something or felt “butterflies” in your stomach? This is because your gut and brain are in constant 2-way communication. Neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals responsible for calmness/agitation, mood, focus and attention, are produced by gut bacteria. In fact, the majority of your serotonin, that feel-good brain chemical, is made in the gut. So guess what happens if you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria or a GI disorder? That’s right, it can cause you to be in a poor mood! There is a strong link between dysbiosis and mood disorders .
When looking at communication from the brain to the gut, chronic emotional stress can lead to slowed digestion, leaky gut, decreased mental clarity, and suppress immunity (3). This is why one of my main areas of focus when I work with clients is tackling stress. While it’s not usually possible to rid of all stress completely, having powerful ways to cope can greatly improve GI symptoms and brain function.
Helps to flatten your tummy
Healing your gut can help combat bloat and leave you feeling more comfortable in your skinny jeans. Bloating can happen for several reasons including:
- Bacterial overgrowth
- Slow motility or constipation
- Food sensitivities
- Eating too much or too quickly
- Chronic stress
Getting to the root cause(s) of your bloated belly is key, and as an integrative and functional dietitian that is my goal when working with clients.
The small intestine is where about 90% of nutrients from our food is absorbed. If your gut health isn’t “up to par”, this can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Low vitamin D and B12, for example, can lead to sluggishness.
An overgrowth of bad bacteria or gut infection can also zap your energy. One clear example is found in people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, who experience twice as common fatigue compared to healthy people (4).
Lastly I wouldn’t be a very good dietitian without mentioning the effect of diet on energy levels. The Standard American Diet (SAD) contains inflammatory fats and processed sugars which beat up the gut lining and can lead to energy swings. Eating more real, whole foods and healing the gut can help balance energy levels throughout the day and even help you sleep better!
Key takeaways: Healing your gut for your New Years resolution
As you can see there are many benefits to hone in on gut health this year. Having a strong immune system may be enough of a reason, but if you’re looking for healthier skin, a mood uplift, flatter tummy, and/or more energy I would love to help! Contact me to see how I can best support you with your health goals.
Do you want to stay in-the-know on how I can help you find the root cause of your symptoms and heal your gut? I would love for you to join the Sustained Roots email list! Join HERE. I promise no spam, only useful and thought-provoking info 🙂