Did you know the health of your gut also equates to the health of your immune system? Probiotic and gut health aren’t just buzz words, they are emerging essential components to our immune system health.
Gut health is an in depth conversation and has multiple facets. The gut itself has been shown to be like a “second brain” tied to our central nervous system. Our gut and the health of our gut impacts our immune system, nervous system, and mood.
Because the gut, gut health, and gut healing can be so complex, in this post I will only cover the basics of gut health. We could talk for hours on end reviewing and examining the multiple facets of gut health. For the sake of time, I will just cover what damages our gut and where we can find natural sources of probiotics (good gut bacteria)
what damages our good gut bacteria?
There are many things that can damage our gut and change the diversity of our gut bacteria. Usually our gut is damaged not by one, abrupt decision, but rather it is changed by a series of things or multiple things overtime. Some of the most common things that damage our guts can be:
- Overuse of antibiotics (prescription and in our food)
- Processed foods
- Not enough whole food diversity, fruits, vegetables, whole grains
- Too much alcohol
- Exposure to pesticides and environmental toxins
- Sugar, artificial sweeteners
- Genetically Modified Foods
- Overuse of antimicrobial/antibacterial cleaners & hygiene products (attempting to create a “sterile” environment)
- Birth control, hormone replacement, steroids, antacids, NSAIDs
- Stress + age
Each of these things plays a crucial role in our health and especially the health of our gut. Overtime the use of one or several of these items can compound damage to our guts and cause symptoms of gut damage.
How many “good bacteria killers” are you exposing yourself to often?
In our current culture, chronic disease and frequent ailments have become “just how it is”. We have slowly evolved in to thinking that it is normal for the body to be in a frequent state of illness, disease, or struggle.
Are you constantly fighting the common cold, infections like sinus infections or UTIs? Are your symptoms lasting for weeks at a time?
Do viruses, colds, or other immune struggles seem to constantly be something you’re battling?
Consider your gut health and the impact it has on your immune system. It’s possible that some of your frequent symptoms or complaints could be a result of a gut that needs more healing foods.
Good Gut Bacteria
As I mentioned earlier, there are many facets to gut health. Depending on the severity of the damage your gut and immune system are experiencing, a gut repair or healing journey might be in order for you. Some people find that going on a gut healing diet protocol is necessary.
If you are looking for a basic start to your gut loving journey, here are a couple suggestions I personally feel are beneficial.
Remove Gut Damaging Foods
Start by first reducing or eliminating the components that damage the good gut bacteria in your body. Take a look at the list I shared above of “what damages our good gut bacteria?”. Are there a few of these items that you could eliminate or find alternatives to?
Take antibiotics only when necessary and if possible, eliminate any foods that have antibiotics in them. It is common for animal products like meats, milks, yogurts, etc. to use animals that have been taking antibiotics. Not only is this in the animal product you buy in the cold section, but it is also found in prepackaged foods. Companies can use dairy from conventional cows that are fed antibiotics.
That leads me to, avoid processed foods and foods with sugars or artificial sweeteners. Processed foods can be loaded with anti-nutrients, sugars, and artificial sugars. Ingredients in processed foods can damage the gut and our immune system.
Consider a wide variety of in season, organic fruits and vegetables in your diet. Organic produce will reduce your exposure to pesticides and local, in season produce can mean healthier soil for your food to grow in. Diverse soil, typically found from farms that rotate their crops and plant seasonally, provide good bacteria to our foods. Sustainable agriculture and organic, local farming are both good topics to research.
Reduce Toxin Exposure
Reduce the toxin exposure in your home by using natural, toxin free hygiene and cleaning products. Remove harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances to help reduce your exposure to toxins. Chemicals in cleaning, cosmetic, and detergents can be extremely disrupting not only to your gut but also your hormones. I wrote an article about the impact of fragrance in your home, here.
Create Stress Reducing Habits
Practice self-care routines like journaling, exercise, breath work, or quiet time to reduce stress.
what foods have natural probiotics?
You can start introducing gut healthy probiotics and gut healing foods in to your diet.
Some foods that are rich in natural probiotics are
- sauerkraut or kimchi, forms of fermented cabbage
- Kombucha ( a great replacement for diet and regular soda)
- real fermented pickles (gherkin salted pickles)
- fermented fruits and vegetables
- raw apple cider vinegar
- fire cider tonic
- kefir (coconut, water, or dairy kefir)
- Yogurt (organic, grass-fed varieties made from goat’s or sheep’s milk)
Most of these things you can either make yourself at home or you can find at your local health food store. In addition, there may be local companies online or at your farmer’s markets that make these items for you to purchase.
If you are on the hunt for something you can make at home, check out my post about how to make your fire cider. Fire cider is a tonic created for immune health using raw apple cider vinegar and healing vegetables + spices.
I also have a recipe for you to make spicy sauerkraut at home, in your kitchen.
The Basics of Gut Health
This post only scratches the surface of how to support a thriving gut for overall health. The immune system relies heavily on a balanced gut and balanced nervous system. There are many options out there for repairing and nurturing the healthy bacteria in your gut. As with anything in health, everyone’s approach will be different and each of us requires something different.
My hope is that this post will help inspire you to research the various facets that pertain to your life and health.