You know the saying, trust your gut. I never really thought about taking this literally until it affected me. Earlier this year, I had struggled with some health issues, which I never knew was actually all related to my gut health. In fact, I didn't even know anything about gut health, period. I always thought I was the poster of a healthy person in their 30s - I ate fairly well, I worked out religiously and made sure I drank a minimum of eight glasses a day. In my mind, I was doing everything right.
In December 2018, out of nowhere, I started to break out in hives. At first I thought they were just allergies from a new body wash I used. But then the hives started to spread all over my body and the itch was unbearable. I had no idea what was happening and where this was all coming from.
After seeing multiple doctors and specialists as well as paying Dr. Google a visit, I saw a trend in my research. Gut Health. It kept popping up. Article after article popped up on How your Gut Health affects your whole body and Why the Gut Microbiome Is Crucial for your Health. I was hooked. I had no idea that everything in your gut was connected to your overall health and how the food you ate contribute to its well being.
Shortly after my research, I was referred to a Gut Specialist (At the time, I didn't even know this was a profession) who came highly recommended. I picked up the phone, gave him a call and after just 10 minutes of telling him my symptoms, he was able to connect it all back to my gut and pretty much gave me a rundown of my medical history, i.e. past symptoms I may have experienced due to an unstable gut. I was mesmerized. Those unbearable, painful periods I experienced in high school? Possibly connected to my gut health. Did you know the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle are influenced by your gut?
I knew I needed to know more. I also knew the answers to my health issues were connected to my overall gut health so it was a no-brainer to start working with Bharat Oza from B Elite, a team of fitness experts who specialize in stress-reduced fat loss. Their purpose is to educate people on stress factors that cause weight gain as well as health issues and find ways to make sure their bodies have minimal reasons to add body fat and damage health. Not only do they go to the root of the stress but they also use different tools like Biosignature Modultation, nutrition, personal training, FST (Fascial Stretch Therapy), registered massage therapy and energy medicine to resolve them.
Bharat himself is a Gut and Hormonal Health Expert. When we started working together, he shared an incredible wealth of knowledge when it comes to poor gut health and how it affects everything from digestive problems and fatigue to what I was experiencing - skin issues like eczema.
I sat down with Bharat to give us The Scoop on Gut Health and what we need to know.
Can you talk to us about Gut Health and why it's something we should be more concerned about?
The gut is basically the entire gastrointestinal tract; the tube that starts from the mouth and ends at the anus. It includes the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon. This is pretty much where food gets broken down and processed, nutrients absorbed and finally eliminated well.
Your gut is where the majority of your immune system resides
Your gut is also where the majority of your immune system resides and it is responsible for making chemicals (called neurotransmitters) that the brain uses for energy, memory, focus, calm and moods. So you can see why you need to care about your gut health.
What are some telltale signs of bad gut health?
Gut health is becoming increasingly important, sadly because so many health issues have their roots in the gut being inflamed. Have you ever burned your finger? It gets red, irritated, sore and even painful. Now imagine the organs of your gut being like that. That is what inflammation of the gut is. It can be caused because of the foods we eat, pesticides and chemicals in them, medications, stress, nutrient deficiencies and even poor quality sleep.
It can be caused because of the foods we eat, pesticides and chemicals in them, medications, stress, nutrient deficiencies and even poor quality sleep.
Some common symptoms include digestive challenges such as bloating, gas, lack of appetite, constipation, and diarrhea. It also causes autoimmune challenges like rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, Crohn's, Celiac, Hashimoto's. People with skin issues like psoriasis, eczema; yeast, fungal and parasitic infections; brain fog, anxiety, depression, lack of focus, poor memory; falling sick frequently; trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, can all attribute to poor gut health.
You can even find that bad breath, random joint/muscle aches, acne, weight gain (especially around the waist), dry hair and skin, and weak nails can be linked back to the gut.
What kind of practitioner should we see in order to help us improve our gut health?
A well-experienced Holistic Nutritionist or Functional Medicine Doctor would be ideal. Naturopaths can be great too.
What steps should we take to take care of our gut health?
We like to manage various factors that affect gut health - food, lifestyle, stress and sleep. Here are our top tips to protect and improve your gut health.
Eat good quality food. Organic, hormone and antibiotic free food is critical for your overall health and well-being.
Do your best to not eat in front of the televison or while using your cellphone. Rather enjoy the meal with people around you. Distracted eating makes us not chew the food properly, we make poor food choices or even over-eat.
Chew your water and drink your food. Meaning take your time drinking water rather than chugging it down. Also, chew your food well so that it can be absorbed effectively by your digestive system.
Be mindful of how specific foods make you feel. Do you feel energized after a meal or sluggish? Does a spcific food give you any reactions? Avoid these foods.
Come of the most common foods that stress the body and immune system are gluten, dairy, corn, sugar and soy. We recommend eliminating these foods for 6-8 weeks and see how you feel.
Get tested for food sensitivities (not food allergies) through a Naturopath or Functional medicine doctor for a quicker way to determine which foods work for you and don;t. Another good test is the Viome stool test. They give you food recommendations based on your gut bacteria.
Stop eating about three hours before bed.
It may be beneficial for some people to fast or do a meatleass day, 1-2 times per week.
Take supplements like enzymes, Hydrochloric acid, curcumin, aloe vera, glutamine can help repair and support gut health
Avoid drinking too much water with your meal. Preferably keep a gap of 15-20mins before or after food so it doesn't dilute your stomach acids.
How do Probiotics work and how do we know which is the right one for us?
Probiotics are basically good bacteria that can help fight infections (fungal or parasitic) and/or help rebalance the gut's bacteria. Ideally, it is a good idea to do tests like Viome or work with a practitioner to figure out if you need probiotics and which ones.
Probiotics are basically good bacteria that can help fight infections
This is because, taking good bacteria is not necessarily always a good thing. It can throw off the balance of bacteria in your system. However, the average North American usually reports benefits from supplementing with a good quality probiotic. Our preferred brand of probiotics is Genestra.
In addition to probiotics, what type of supplements should we be taking?
Supplements like enzymes, Hydrochloric acid, curcumin and glutamine can help repair and support gut health.
As your symptoms improve, you know your gut is improving.