Studies show 30-40% of clinic visits are gut related, or 105 million visits per year in the US. That’s a lot of gut problems.
Some of the things that can get off track in the gut include:
· Poor digestion – this one is huge! Starting in the mouth with thorough chewing of food before swallowing, digestion is critical. The acid in our stomach is critical for breaking down food into small blocks that can be used as fuel and absorb the nutrients. A very common complaint is heart burn and the first thing people reach for is an acid blocking medication. This is often the exact opposite of what is needed. Did you know that 60% of people age 60 have little or no stomach acid? Supporting the digestion process with something as simple as apple cider vinegar before meals can make a big difference. Not everyone likes vinegar straight up, so you can mix it with an ounce or two of water and add a bit of honey or stevia to make it taste better, if you like. And when you get a flare of heartburn – reach for apple cider vinegar rather than the Tums or Prilosec first. You may find it works better!
· Good bacteria – did you know that we have 10 times as many good bacteria in our gut and on our body as we have cells in our body? Good bacteria is responsible for so many different things: making vitamins, managing the immune system, even affecting our weight. Eating a diet heavy in sugar and processed foods can decrease the good bacteria and leave us open for other problems. The good stuff thrives on vegetables and naturally fermented foods like good quality yogurt, homemade sauerkraut (like grandma made, not the the heat processed variety), kefir, and others. Feed those good bacteria to keep your gut balanced and you may find constipation and bloating improve, along with your general health. Another option is a high quality probiotic to get the ball rolling. Dosing varies from 15 billion units (yes, billion!) for the general population and much higher for those with more serious gut issues.
· Leaky gut – is the common term for intestinal permeability. This is a condition where the lining of the gut becomes irritated and will allow larger proteins from food to get into the blood stream. When this happens, the immune system is alerted and causes inflammation or, even worse, autoimmune diseases.
Hippocrates was a smart guy! Many diseases do start in the gut and that is why I am passionate about gut health. It really is the foundation to health.