Your Gut Has Something To Say (and Why You Need to Listen).
If you’ve been reading my blog, you might have noticed the topic of digestion, elimination diet, or the FODMAPS approach. To give us a quick refresher, I’ll quote from an earlier blog that I wrote:
Let’s start with a real example: I was working with a client who was continuing to suffer from upset stomach and bowels, even after she incorporated health advice from her naturopathic doctor. She was miserable. To find the culprit, I designed a personalized Health Plan that used the Elimination Diet, following a FODMAPS approach. I walked her through the program for a little over a month. (While you might only need a few weeks to reset, some people, like this client, needed time to reduce inflammation and go through potential foods that might be triggering the digestive reaction.) Over those weeks, we put on our detective hats and found what her body did and did not like, and we successfully removed the foods, like grains, dairy and gluten, that were causing the reaction, and her stomach and bowels return to normal.
You and I will probably react differently to stress, food, lack of sleep, inflammation, etc., but we will find our bodies reacting to stressors, and a lot of that stress can appear in how well or poorly our intestinal tract and digestive system is functioning. Scientists, researchers, dietitians, and doctors (you get the idea) are finding that your gut is a key indicator and gateway to your health. Here are four examples of why you need to pay attention to your gut.
“With our study we originally wanted to study the role of bacteria in the intestines in the development of intestinal inflammation,” explains Professor Dirk Haller from the Department of Nutrition and Immunology at the Weihenstephan Science Centre of the TUM. “However, the surprising result for us was the discovery that bacteria together with stress in cells caused tumours (exclusively in the colon) and without the involvement of inflammation”.
“Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the University of North Carolina in the USA have mapped out the cell types behind various brain disorders. The findings are published in Nature Genetics and offer a roadmap for the development of new therapies to target neurological and psychiatric disorders. One interesting finding was that cells from the gut’s nervous system are involved in Parkinson’s disease, indicating that the disease may start there.”
“Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a serious condition affecting the small intestine. It occurs when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine. That causes pain and diarrhea. It can also lead to malnutrition as the bacteria start to use up the body’s nutrients.”
“Research on the gut-brain connection has shed light on how the state of our gastrointestinal system can impact brain function and play a role in cognitive function and mental health. Long story short: a thriving gut microbiome is essential to overall wellness—important when you want to get the most from your life and work.”
How to Listen to Your Gut
I personally have dealt with gastrointestinal issues and reactions to food for a long time. Decades in fact! Recently, I’m returning to the “SIBO diet” to try to calm down some reactions I’m observing (like skin issues and tummy upset) However, after all this time and searching, I have just been given a diagnosis of EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome). I will talk more about this in my next blog! But it explains a lot!
Because our bodies are never static, it helps me to remember that good health is an ongoing pursuit. If health issues (like IBS or skin rashes) continue to appear, we have to start asking questions that will help us find and deal with the root cause. It will also help you collect data and observations to share with your medical provider.
Some Big-Picture Questions to Get You Started:
- Am I running on a deficit, like lack of sleep, limited water, food, good fiber, etc.? How long? What type?
- Is it possible there are some hereditary aspects I’m not aware of or considering? If possible, do I need to ask more about family history?
- Do I experience eczema/rosacea/noticeable skin issues? When?
- Do I have an upset stomach? When? What was I eating/not eating/doing/thinking/drinking?
- How often do I deal with acid reflux, diarrhea, and/or constipation?
- What foods do I eat? (Maybe do a food journal.)
- What specifically do I do or not do for physical activity? How often?
- What stressors are in my life right now? (Make a list or ask a trusted friend to help.)
Once you have this information, you might start recognizing your unique patterns or connecting ideas. For example, maybe you’ll see in the food journal that every time that you eat dairy you are constipated (a very common issue). Or, maybe you’ll start to realize that your manager has been adding to your stress in unreasonable ways for years?
At this point, you’ve listened to your gut(s) and you’re ready to start forming your unique plan to address that root cause. To make that plan, you’ll need to learn more about the specific issues and advocate for yourself by enlisting help and guidance from the right people and experts (from an MD and the HR manager to the counselor and pastor).
Next month, we’ll talk more about ideas for helping you take care of your gut. To get you started, you’ll find more information about leaky gut syndrome and bacteria in this month’s reading highlight. And, as always, I’m available via phone or email to collaborate with you.
This month’s reading:
Learn more about bacteria and how it affects your health. Plus, what is Leaky Gut Syndrome and and Dysbiosis?