You may have heard terms like “leaky gut,” “gut bacteria,” “healthy gut floral,” etc., but what does it all mean and how important is...

You may have heard terms like “leaky gut,” “gut bacteria,” “healthy gut floral,” etc., but what does it all mean and how important is your gut to your overall health?

The answer is: more important than you probably realize.
Skin rash? It may be related to your gut health. Other signs of concern may be bloating, belching and burning sensations in your abdominal area. These are the more obvious signs, but some you might not think about are; weak or cracked fingernails, dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose, iron deficiency, easily bruised skin and fatigue. These are just a few.

Everything about your gut has to do with how efficiently and effectively your body digests food. Digestion is the process of breaking down food into smaller molecules so that the nutrients in the food can be absorbed into our body and used as energy. Nutrients are most often taken into our body as food, but if our food isn’t giving us an adequate supply of the nutrients we need, there are a boatload of supplements on the market that claim they will supply us with the ones we are missing. But don’t be deceived. Always read labels.

I was stunned a few years back to discover that one of the top three ingredients in the vitamins I was taking was sugar, and another ingredient was a preservative. Not helping my gut. Antibiotics and prescription drugs also play havoc with a healthy gut biome. They can kill the friendly flora (good bacteria) that helps break down food, leaving a toxic environment that impacts the stomach and intestinal lining and compromises your immune system.

It is hard to know what vitamins and minerals your body is lacking without a lab test, but keeping a food journal might help you evaluate if you are consuming nutrient-rich foods.

“Beans, greens and berries” is my mantra. I try to have one or more of these every day. Beans are versatile and can be used in multiple ways, rice bowl, chili, soup, on a salad, etc.; greens in salad, on sandwiches, in soups, etc.; and berries with yogurt or cottage cheese, in cereal, just plain or frozen as a Popsicle (without added sugar).

Keep food as fresh as you can without additional processing. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the middle to find fresh ingredients. Processing tends to reduce nutritional value. Frozen foods are better than canned or boxed foods and are less processed.

Did you know that your gut has been nicknamed “your second brain?” That’s because it impacts your mental state in addition to your digestive health. If you have ever felt butterflies in your stomach, it is because your stomach contains 100 million neurons that respond to environmental threats that can cause fear and anxiety. Ever heard someone say they were guided by their gut instinct? Well, if you are depending on your gut to call the shots, you better make sure it is in good health.

Eat a variety of fresh or frozen foods. Eliminate, or at least reduce, processed ingredients, and get more exercise to keep things moving along your digestive tract. What goes in should also come out without a lengthy delay. A good resource and easy read about gut health is “The Everything Guide to Gut Health,” by Linday Boyers.