Why is gut health so important?
All parts of the human body work synergistically. The entire human organism benefits when organs and glands function correctly. If one part of the organism experiences dis-ease – the whole body suffers.
This is especially true for the digestive system. The gut is responsible to break down, process, and assimilate nutrition for the body, as well as to then eliminate the waste products from this digestive process. The human digestive system does this every day – making the health of the gut so vital. If the gut is malfunctioning or sluggish, vital nourishment cannot feed cells within the body needed to function correctly. Waste can accumulate, leading to autointoxication and contributing to the proliferation of dangerous pathogens. All of which can lead to a weakness for the many systems in the human body, resulting in ill health.
The gut is also home to a diverse range of microbes, some of them support radiant health, while others are detrimental to it. The beneficial microbes found in the digestive system are the primary support for a healthy immune system. Some of the more beneficial strains of bacterial actually help in the production of vitamins used by the body.
For all these reasons and more, Hippocrates himself, known as the father of medicine, stated that “all disease begins in the gut”.
So How Can You Improve Your Gut health?
A great place to start when looking to improve digestive health is diet. Eating a wide variety of high-fiber and fermented foods support a healthy microbiome. Taking probiotics and limiting antibiotics use can also be beneficial. Raw fruits and vegetables – especially those picked fresh – also contain an abundance of microbes highly supportive to the human gastrointestinal system.
Here are some of the common gut killers and gut-friendly foods that we suggest you consume on a regular basis to keep your gut healthy.
Keep in mind that taking care of the gut includes eating a balanced diet, exercise, water, and regular cleansing.
Antibiotics are used to rid the body of illness-causing bacteria. As an unfortunate side effect, these antibiotics also rid the body of the beneficial flora essential for a healthy digestive system and a robust immune system.
On one hand, medications can be lifesaving, allowing a person to manage various symptoms of the disease. The side-effects however can be extremely harmful to the digestive system. Some recent university medical studies have shown that many of the most used medicines have harmful consequences for the health of the gut. Drugs that may damage your digestive system include pain medications, anti-depressants, chemotherapy, proton pump inhibitors, diabetes meds, oral steroids, and even laxatives.
The major issue with the use of these medications is that they can have a significant impact on the delicate balance of microbes found in the gut; most importantly, its beneficial flora. Oftentimes, these medications contribute to an overgrowth of pathogenic microbes, especially the more dangerous and harmful strains of bacteria. This imbalance inevitably leads to disease – stemming from lowered immune function, a multitude of gut infections, and even overweight conditions. Perhaps even more alarming is that the regular use of many of these medications has to lead to increased resistance to antibacterial and antimicrobial drugs.
Unfortunately, most of the produce found in commercial supermarkets have been heavily treated and grown with the use of chemicals and unnatural methods. This can include genetically modified organisms, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, soil fumigants, and desiccants. These cause significant damage to the delicate tissues lining the digestive tract and alter the balance of beneficial microflora throughout the body. Without beneficial microorganisms, it can become difficult to digest and eliminate a wide range of foods. The body’s natural immune functioning will also suffer the more harmful pathogens are allowed to proliferate.
Pasteurized and homogenized dairy products are among one – if not the most – of the catarrh producing foods. An overproduction of catarrh, also known as mucous and inflammation, provides the ideal breeding ground for harmful pathogens. This is where sickness occurs, and it is in this mucous that infections develop and proliferate. Catarrh will also inhibit the digestion system from functional optimally. A digestive tract that is full of mucous cannot properly digest and absorb food. This makes it very difficult for the body to receive an adequate supply of nutrients essential for a healthy body.
Yes, the water coming from city taps is potable and considered safe to drink – but it is filled with chemical agents in order to ensure that this is so. Some of these treatment chemicals can include, but may not be limited to, alum, chlorine, ammonia, and phosphoric acid. Chlorine is added to water in order to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and algae that may be in the water. Although this is essential to ensuring everyone has access to water that will not cause illness, the chlorine will also kill the beneficial bacteria and organisms within the body that it comes in contact with.
Even with these additives other contaminates can finds their way into the public water supply. Recent investigative articles from Global News and the Toronto Star have outlined that much of Canada’s water supply is tainted by lead from city pipes, and in fact exceeds Health Canada safety standards for lead contamination. Lead toxicity is known to have adverse effects on the gut microbiome, as well as numerous other metabolic functions within the body.
Wheatgrass juice, blue-green algae, as well as all green vegetables, are rich in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll will simultaneously feed the beneficial microbes in the body while eliminating the bad. The chlorophyll found in plants is exceptionally beneficial for the gut. It is highly detoxifying, cleansing, deodorizing, and anti-inflammatory. Consuming foods rich in chlorophyll will go a long way in helping to keep the body’s intestinal environment clean and strong.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are some of the best foods that can be eaten to promote a clean healthy gut with a strong microbial constitution.
In general, most fruits and vegetables are alkaline – especially when consumed in their fresh natural state. The optimal healthy chemistry of the body should be alkaline. It is only in an acidic medium that harmful pathogens can flourish and where illness can occur. Alkalinity is maintained by the consumption of foods rich in minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium – all of which are found in abundance in the plant kingdom. Acidic-forming foods on the other hand are common in processed foods, proteins, and synthetic sugars. A good rule to keep a healthy balance of alkalinity within the body is to consume 80% alkaline-forming foods, and 20% acidic forming foods.
The high fiber content of fruits and vegetables is another essential component of gut health. Fiber is also a prebiotic, food that feeds beneficial bacteria. Also, when consumed, fiber will actually act as a kind of rough broom for your intestines. Sweeping away the waste matter that needs to be eliminated.
Live Fermented Foods
Live fermented foods contain probiotics that can increase the diversity of beneficial microbes in your gut. These live cultures will support a healthy digestive system, increase immunity, and aid in the creation of some important vitamins needed by the body.
Additionally, consider Colon irrigation – in the form of Colonics – as a safe and effective way of ridding the bowel of harmful waste and toxicity. A healthy bowel cleansed of poisonous impacted waste, will function better, and create an internal environment conducive to strong and diverse gut ecology.
Sandoval, David. The Green Foods Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Barley Grass, Wheatgrass, Kamut, Chlorella, Spirulina, and More. Freedom Press, 2008.
Jensen, B. Dr. Jensen’s guide to better bowel care. New York: Avery, 1999.