Welcoming back to the Naked Paleo blog, Functional Nutritionist and gut health advocate, Alicia Stanhope.
Gut health is bigs news at the moment. I've personally been on my own gut health adventures over the last 6 months but that's for another post.
I asked Alicia to bring some higher knowledge to the blog so we could all learn about our '2nd brain' and what it takes to really look after it. She also has a 7 Day Gut Health Challenge that kicks off on June 17th. More info at the bottom if you would like to get involved
Over to you Alicia...
Love Your Guts
First things first. What do I mean when I say “the gut”…
Along the digestive tract, there are enzymes that breakdown food, hormones to regulate digestion, bacteria to ferment fibre, immune cells to fight infection and muscles to move food through.
A lot is going on when you digest your meal!
What’s all the fuss about???
- The gut is the barrier from the outside world. It decides what gets into the body and what is eliminated.
- Your microbiome protects the body from infection and is where the majority of your immune system is located.
- The process of digestion breaks down food and absorbs nutrients. This provides energy and they are the building blocks of all cells, organs, hormones and neurotransmitters.
- As a part of detoxification, the liver sends toxins, hormones and dead cells to the intestines to be eliminated via poo.
- Serotonin is produced and regulated by the microbiome. Serotonin is the “happy hormone” (and neurotransmitter) and the precursor to melatonin, supporting mood and sleep.
The gut-brain connection
You have as many nerve cells in your gut than you do in your spinal cord. This is why we call the gut your “second brain”. The bacteria in your microbiome, hormones and neurotransmitters produced in your gut communicate with your brain affecting mood, emotions and appetite. And visa versa. The same goes for how your mood, emotions, stress, anxiety and depression affect your gut health.
Your immune system
The majority of the immune cells in your body live in your gut. The lining of your gut and the diversity of your microbiome supports your immune system.
Hippocrates was onto something when he said “all disease begins in the gut”
In a nutshell, your gut turns food into energy and cells, gets rid of waste, protects from infection, supports good mood and sleep… these are all pretty vital pillars of good health and well being!
I spend most days talking to clients about their poo, stinky farts, having the runs and constipation. Gut health and digestion are not sexy topics... BUT it is so fascinating when you dive into the science (I’m that nerd) and realise that gut health is the basis of all health.
The convenience of our modern day lifestyle is undeniably great but it has created poor habits that run havoc on our guts. For example, eating processed fast food on the run, drinking alcohol to suppress emotion, taking medications to mask symptoms, having a poor relationship with food (overeating and under-eating), being in a constant state of stress and/or prioritising work or training oversleep.
Over time this causes wear and tear on your digestive tract causing leaky gut and dysbiosis. Symptoms that may appear are:
- Food Intolerances
- Frequent cold and flu
- Mood disorders
- Skin conditions like acne and eczema
The aim of the game is to be in tune with your body. Think of symptoms as the engine light in your car. When you experience any type of symptom, your body is trying to tell you that it needs some love.
Here are a few ways you can give your guts some love
- Eat your greens and fibre rich food
- Ditch refined sugars and processed foods with artificial colours and flavouring
- Manage stress and ground yourself in nature
If you want to learn how you can Love Your Guts, I have a 7 Day Gut Health Challenge that kicks off on June 17th.
Get involved & sign up here
Enjoyed this blog post? Want to grab some gut loving recipes?
Click below to grab a copy of our Little Big Book of Gummies, packed with gut loving gummie recipes perfect for the whole family