Kombucha, probiotics, and dietary fiber.
The trifecta of gut health supplements that have been taking over the industry recently.
You know that they’re supposed to help improve your gut health because that’s what all labels are saying, it’s what the dude at Vitamin Shoppe is saying, and it’s what you saw someone say on Facebook.
Are these things really improving your gut health though?
How do you know if your guy health even needs help anyway?
What even is your gut in the first place?!
The entire thing can get really complicated and there is all kind of misinformation out there which makes it even more complicated!
I’m going to help breakdown this whole gut health thing for you and help you find ways to improve it starting today (HINT: Drinking kombucha isn’t enough).
What is the Gut?
Before I get into the “how” I need to cover the “what”.
Your gut is the entire gastrointestinal tract starting at the mouth and ending with the large intestine.
That’s right, your mouth is apart of your gut too! Chewing your food is actually where the digestion process begins because you’re not only breaking down food while chewing but you’re also releasing enzymes in your saliva to help kick start the digestive process in the rest of your body.
From there the food travels down your esophagus where it ends up in your stomach for storage and further breakdown.
Afterwards, the food makes it’s way through a host of other organs including the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, and large intestine before making it’s way out as waste.
During this entire process the food is being broken down and absorbed so that it can be used across your whole body for virtually every function!
It’s way more than just a system to break down and pick apart the food you eat though.
The Gut-Health Connection
You’ve probably heard, or even have had, a “gut feeling” in different situations that cause you stress or creates anxiety.
Is that “feeling” all in your head or does your gut actually know what’s going on?
The entire gastrointestinal system is – as you already know – how your body breaks down food and absorbs nutrients for use across all other systems of the body.
That’s the obvious job of your gut but that’s only part of it. It’s been found that our gut is actually a critical communication center between the brain and your central nervous system!
In fact, your gut has its own nervous system all together known as the enteric nervous system.
It’s through this communication system that our gut can create and protect our bodies front line of defense to fight off diseases and other illnesses.
2/3 of your body’s immune system tissue is actually located in the gut!
Not to mention that the gut also plays a huge role in:
- General Immunity
- Mental health
- Skin health
- Production of Sex hormones
- Production of Thyroid hormones
- Protecting your body against the microorganisms in your food
Just to name a few things!
As you can see, your gut is crucial to all kinds of health functions in your body and if your gut health isn’t working the way that it should – you’re going to feel it in more ways than one:
- Poor skin health
- Brain fog
- Low libido
- Constantly getting sick
- Irregular bowel movements
- Food sensitivities
- Swelling of hands/feet
Are all different symptoms that you could experience on a day to day basis as a result of poor gut health.
Having poor gut health is something that can really affect your day to day life and make it hard to actually live and enjoy life!
There can be all kinds of reasons that this could happen to you too, with some of the most common being:
- Eating too quickly
- Sugar over-consumption
- Overuse of antibiotics
- A nutrient lack diet
- Chronic stress (mental, emotional, physical, etc.)
- Overuse of NSAIDS or PPIS (prescription and non-prescription drugs like aspririn, ibuprofen, advil, motrin, prilosec, and nexium)
The good news is, you can actually do things to help improve your gut health!
The bad news is, it’s not quite as simple as having a probiotic and drinking some kombucha.
How To Improve Your Gut Health
When looking to improve your gut health there are a few things that you can begin implementing in your day to day life.
Chewing Your Food More Thoroughly – Like I mentioned earlier, digestion begins in your mouth. If you’re not chewing your food properly that means your gut has to work a lot harder to break down the food you’ve swallowed and that only adds stress to your gut. Start slowing down your chewing and being more mindful of how you eat so that you can make digestion easier on your gut.
Reducing Lifestyle Stress – Your body has a hard time differentiating different kinds of stress. Stress from your gut and stress from your job elicit the same inflammatory response from your body. Find relaxing outlets to ease your mental stress, tone down your training volume to manage your physical stress, and eat fewer pro-inflammatory foods
Proper Sleep – Also a way to manage stress but sleep is important for improving gut function among other things. Get 7-9 hours of sleeps every night.
Add Nutrients To Your Diet – Greens, fruits, vegetables, fiber, all the foods that you know you need but aren’t getting enough of. Get more of those.
Elimination Diet – This topic can get an entire blog of its own if I’m being honest. In short though, you eliminate foods – one at a time – and see how your body responds to this. If you’re removing a food that you are sensitive to or causes you gut distress you’ll feel the difference. After giving your gut time to recover you can reintroduce the food into your diet to see how you respond. This can be a difficult process so I would recommend getting help from a professional to guide the process.
Supplements – This is where kombucha and a probiotic COULD be helpful. Truth be told though, if you’re not doing any of the other things mentioned above, this won’t help much. Drinking kombucha while avoiding sleeping, thoroughly chewing, following an elimination diet, or adding nutrients is like trying to tape up a flat tire.
Hopefully, you now better understand some of the roles that the gut plays in the body and how it can be impactful to your life.
If you think you could be experiencing poor gut health and aren’t sure what the best first steps are, you can email me here so that I can help point you in the right direction!