Photo Credit: ALT/HEALTHY
I make it no secret that we believe that the gut is the single most important element affecting our overall health, our ‘second brain’ if you like and emerging science is continually proving this .
Research studies such as the Microbiome Project and scientists are repetitively confirming that our digestive tract is full of bacterial colonies making it their home. These bacterial colonies are being proven to hold important roles both our physical and mental wellness and that quite simply, if we nourish the bacteria – we nourish ourselves.
It is reported that these bacteria or microbes, influence and effect pretty much every bodily function/organ that exists in our bodies from extracting nutrients in our food, to our metabolism, hormones and even our genes. Good gut health has been linked to weight loss, mood, energy and mental function and many recent scientific findings are identifying that similarly to the Traditional Chines Medicine viewpoint; maintaining the health of the spleen and stomach through correct nourishment will indirectly nourish and tonify our bodily functions and thus overall health.
The good news is, we can take control of our gut health by replenishing, repopulating and reshaping our microflora with lots of friendly bacteria, as well as strengthening it with specific nutrients and methods for healing:
Nutrients to Replenish and Restore our Gut
Vitamin B1 – Vitamin B, otherwise known as thiamin, supports the digestion of carbohydrates proteins and cholesterol in the body.
Vitamin A, D and E: Collectively, these fat soluable vitamins strengthen your immune system and support your gut barrier.
Vitamin A has been reported to harmonize gut microbes and fight against infection.
Vitamin D can be found in certain foods such as fish oils and dairy. As a population we don’t eat huge amounts of fish oils and with so many following a dairy free diet due to intolerances, vitamin D deficiency is rife. Vitamin D plays a major role in absorbing calcium and deficiency has been closely linked to a number of gut disorders such as IBS. Probiotics have been linked to increasing vitamin D levels as well as acting as an anti-bacterial in the gut – fighting off bad bacteria.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant fat soluble vitamin responsible for tissue repair and healing. As it is a fat soluble vitamin, the presence of fat is vital to ensure you absorb it efficiently. If you struggle to digest fat properly, your vitamin E uptake is too likely to be affected.
Vitamin c: Our immune systems are often compromised, Whether is be from working out or often stressed. Vitamin C helps protect immune system, whilst also helps to clear cortisol from the body and speed up recovery ensuring our bodily functions continue to run smoothly.
Zinc: Digestive enzymes aid our digestion process yet rely on a number of minerals to do so. One of these required minerals is zinc. Zinc activates digestive enzymes, ensuring your meal is fully broken down and use and is also said to strengthen the barrier of the gut wall.
Magnesium: One of the most important nutrients for overall health, magnesium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and low levels within the body are associated with inflammation. It is this inflammation within the body that is directly related to digestive issues and symptoms such as IBS, bloating, indigestion and slow digestion.
Treatments/methods that aid gut restoration.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been aiding digestive disorders for hundreds of years by ensuring correct energy flow in the digestive systems in the right direction. If there is a problem in this directional movement which arise with gastric reflux, nausea, gastroparesis, or constipation, acupuncture can redirect the energy through the system in its natural downward direction. Acupuncture also helps with the functions of absorption of nutrients and elimination of waste
Eat prebiotics daily: Pre-biotics can be found in fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kimbucha, miso and encourage your native flora to grow. By adding these foods to your diet every day you not only restore the gut, you allow it to repopulate with lots of friendly bacteria making the community much stronger and adaptable.
De -stress: stress quite literally causes havoc in almost every area of our body. We have touched in previous blog posts, how stress and the release cortisol can slow bodily functions down whilst it works on dealing with the stress. The gut is also extremely vulnerable to both acute and chronic stress both in its physiological function of the gut and changes in the composition of the microbiota.
Although restoring and replenishing our gut is a complex area, with lots to get your head round, the most vital point is simple; Nourishing the gut and all its connecting systems quite simply nourishes health.
Blaser, M. 2014 Missing Microbes, How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, Henry Holt and Co. April 201 – See more at: http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/05/06/new-chinese-medicine-tools-replenish-and-repair-our-gut#sthash.aju5o632.dpuf
The human microbiome project: exploring the microbial part of ourselves in a changing world
Christian, P., & West, K. P. (1998). Interactions between zinc and vitamin A: an update. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,68(2), 435S-441S.
Jones, M. L., Martoni, C. J., & Prakash, S. (2013). Oral supplementation with probiotic L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 increases mean circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D: a post hoc analysis of a randomized controlled trial.The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 98(7), 2944-2951