People often think of food as fuel, which isn’t that far off the mark. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The food you eat helps support a healthy microbiome in your gut. And these microorganisms support immune cell production — the very first line of defense against infection.
But food isn’t the only thing involved in a healthy gut.
Dr. Adepero Okulaja helps people in Edina, Minnesota, take steps to reach optimal health with whole-body medicine. An essential aspect of her approach at The Doctor’s House involves fostering good gut health to support total wellness.
In this blog, Dr. Okulaja explains the importance of a healthy gut and three ways people kill this delicate microbiome.
Digestion is only the beginning when it comes to your gut. In reality, this part of your body is so complex, it’s often referred to as your body’s “second brain.” But why?
Approximately 80% of the serotonin your system produces gets made in the gut — not your brain. Plus, the gut regulates numerous bodily functions. In the grand scheme of things, you should consider your digestive tract as largely responsible for your physical health and mental well-being.
Unfortunately, few people understand the role the gut plays in everyday life. As a result, they often do things each day that throw this delicate microbiome off balance.
Signs of an unhealthy gut microbiome include:
If these issues sound familiar, here are three things you could be doing to damage your gut microbiome.
The most obvious culprit for gut health often involves diet. That’s because food contains the nutrients your microbiome needs to thrive.
Foods that negatively affect the gut include:
Instead, focus on colorful fruits and veggies and get plenty of fiber. You can even add fermented items, like yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi to your diet.
For best results, eat regularly and try to keep your diet varied. After all, variety is the spice of life — especially for microbial diversity!
How often do you use nonsteroidal drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, Advil, and Motrin? These popular over-the-counter medications can offer game-changing relief when you have pain by blocking eicosanoids and cytokines — substances that promote inflammation. However, they also block the same substances that promote healing.
On top of that, using these medications regularly can damage the lining of the gut. When that occurs, toxins, food particles, and microbes can pass into your bloodstream — an issue known as leaky gut.
Some prescription medications can also damage your microbiome, including antibiotics. This drug may save lives, but it often kills the “good” bugs in your body, too.
If you take medication regularly, Dr. Okulaja can offer guidance on whether it puts your gut health at risk.
How can stress impact your gut microbiome when you don’t eat it? Believe it or not, chronic stress is a leading cause of poor gut health. And it’s even worse if you also experience sleepless nights.
Research shows that chronic stress can put your health at risk. First, it causes you to produce less secretory IgA. Consider this substance as one of your first lines of immune defense. And it doesn’t stop there. Your body also produces less DHEA, an antistress, anti-aging adrenal hormone.
Additionally, stress causes your body to slow digestion, leading to less blood flow to your digestive organs and higher production of toxic metabolites.
Skimping on sleep also increases a person’s stress levels, causing a spike in cortisol levels — a direct link to leaky gut. To fully repair your gut tissue, the body needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
So, whether you have chronic stress or stress due to lack of sleep, your gut health suffers.
This is only the beginning when it comes to gut health. But if your microbiome seems off-balance, you don’t have to solve the problem on your own.
Dr. Okulaja has the tools and expertise to find the root cause of your symptoms. She can also offer personalized guidance on how to treat them, using her unique blend of collaborative wellness and lifestyle coaching.
How is your gut health? Contact The Doctor’s House by phone or online to learn how to restore your microbiome today.