What is The Gut?
Your gut is: your esophagus, stomach and intestines. The gut starts at your mouth and ends at your, let us all pretend to be mature for a moment, anus. That is a huge amount of YOU!
If that much of you is unhealthy, a lot of things can go wrong with nutrient and fluid uptake, immunity, defense against infections, signaling to the brain, prevention of allergies, mood regulation (and more).
What is Gut Health?
You hear it often, “you need to heal your gut”, “gut health is important”, “it’s all about the gut.”
According to www.bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com: the five major criteria for a healthy gut are: "effective digestion and absorption of food, absence of gastrointestinal illness, normal and stable intestinal microbiota, effective immune status and status of well being."
I’d like to focus on supporting a healthy microbiome because we can adopt new habits that directly relate to the health of our microbiome and therefore improve our overall health right now. A very simplified definition of the gut microbiome is: the balance of good bacteria (microbes) and bad bacteria (microbes) in our gut.
In a healthy microbiome, microbes enter and our immune system (most of the immune system is found in our gut) develops a tolerance to the microbe. This give and take strengthens the gut microbiome and immunity. If outside microbes aren’t present, the body is unable to build certain immunities and is therefore left vulnerable and weak. To give an illustration, picture the gut with no incoming microbes as a muscle that doesn’t get used (it’s weak). Then, a gut that is challenged by and overcomes incoming microbes is a muscle that gets daily workouts (it’s strong). The gut needs this exercise to be ready to fight bigger microbes and viruses.
In general and more so during a pandemic, Americans use a myriad of antibacterial products: wipes of all kinds, soaps, sprays, cleaners, sanitizers. A search on Amazon for “antibacterial” produces over 7,000 results; products for hands, hair, pillows, carpet, jocks, feet, pets, babies, dishes, floors, windows, laundry, shoes and teeth.
If allowing certain microbes into our body helps us build a healthy immune system and we are over using products that wipe out these microbes, what is that doing to the balance of our gut? This overkill kills too many microbes in our environment. Thus, leaving our guts unchallenged, unbalanced and vulnerable.
How Do We Achieve Gut Health?