by Lara Zakaria, RPh HHC
So much emerging research has come up recently connecting the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) with many health concerns. Most notable studies on depression (“Gut Bacteria May Exacerbate Depression” and “The gut-brain barrier in major depression“), this article on dementia, and this study on risk associated with cardiovascular disease.
The new research doesn’t even scratch the surface but hopefully starts to illuminate the relationship between digestive health and the health of, well, just about everything else.
Conditions associated with poor gut health
- Frequent colds
- Seasonal allergies
- Food sensitivities
- Autoimmune disease
- PMS or PCOS
- Weight gain and bloating
- Metabolic syndrome
- Brain fog/difficulty concentrating
The intestinal tract
The GI’s main purpose is obviously digestion. However it also serves as a barrier keeping toxins, bacteria and viruses out of circulation. Intestinal permeability (aka “Leaky Gut Syndrome”) occurs when inflammation causes “leaks” or gaps in the gut membrane, allowing the passage of toxic substances into the body. Permeability also compromises the integrity of good bacteria that lines the gut. Furthermore, 80% of the body’s immunity is produced in the gut. Damage to the gut lining, bacterial flora, and inflammation are responsible for augmented immune response, ultimately leading to many of the health problems listed above.
Strategies to prevent “leaky gut”
- Enlist nutritional support by a nutritionist or someone trained in dietary gut restoration therapy.
- Eat a whole food based diet and avoid pesticide and antibiotic exposed foods
- Balance microflora (“good” bacteria) by increasing intake of good bacteria either through fermented foods or a high-quality probiotic.
- Limit use of gut-damaging medications like proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec), NSAIDS (Ibuprofen), or steroids (prednisone), to name a few.
- Minimize use of alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and additives since they cause inflammation to the gut lining.
- Manage stress – left unchecked, stress is one of the best ways to increase acidity in the gut and cause more damage to the mucosal lining.
Healthy digestion workshop
Join me at Yoga in the Heights on Sunday, February 22nd for a workshop dedicated to exploring the connection between gut health, digestion, and good health. We’ll learn some important dietary techniques to maintain healthy GI function, improve digestion, and prevent chronic disease.
- Learn about important links between the gut and overall health
- Learn what steps to take to healing your gut and improving digestion
- Find relief from bothersome or embarrassing symptoms of poor digestion