Gayle Griffith, RN, BSN Nutrition & Wellness Consultant
The gastro-intestinal system or, gut is much more complex and relevant to good health than previously thought. Because of current research we have a better understanding of how our gut microbiome can greatly impact our health in a positive or negative way.
If any of the following indicators apply, you could most likely benefit from improving your gut microbiome:
- GI distress. Such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal pain and cramping. These symptoms can be caused by many different things including taking antibiotics, IBS, food-poisoning, medication side-effects, poor nutrition…. All of the above can cause an imbalance of the “good” v “bad” bacteria in our microbiome resulting in an immune reaction, inflammation and the creation of toxins that can cause these problems.
- Immune System. If you get sick often you may need more good bacteria in your gut. The immune system functions in the gut in two major ways. First, chemical messengers are secreted that activate T-cells (immune cells) to protect us from disease-causing pathogens and foreign substances. Next, when our gut is loaded with good bacteria there is less available space for the disease-causing pathogens to grow.
- Weight gain. Current research shows the microbiome of a healthy weight person is different from that of obese people. There is a gut-brain connection where appetite regulation and the feeling of being full receive signals more effectively from the healthy gut.
- Joint pain. Certain types of arthritis are autoimmune disorders characterized by inflammatory changes that can cause pain and the deterioration of joints. An unbalanced microbiome allows overgrowth of bad bacteria, this in turn causes inflammation. People with rheumatoid arthritis have a higher incidence of IBS and celiac disease which are also autoimmune disorders associated with gut health.
- Depression/Anxiety. Current trends in research are studying the gut-brain connection. Cortisol (a stress hormone) levels decrease with probiotics. Conversely, people reporting higher levels of anxiety and depression appear to have unhealthy microbes in their gut. Brain chemistry is regulated by these gut microbes specifically in how we respond to stress and anxiety. Many other neurological conditions are being researched in relation to the gut-brain connection.
- Neurological disorders including Parkinson’s, Autism and Alzheimer’s to name a few are being closely studied and initial findings suggest (you guessed it) a strong correlation between a healthy microbiome and diminished symptoms.
So, I guess you’re seeing how a healthy gut has a major impact on your health in general. Recipe for a healthy gut: Eat more fruits and vegetables and eat less sugar and processed foods. Eat plenty of prebiotics (feeds the good bacteria), probiotics (good bacteria) and/or supplements. Prebiotic foods include apples, asparagus onions and garlic. Probiotics are found in yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and other fermented foods.
(Dr. Lintala’s note: If your picky autistic child won’t eat fermented foods, or is on the GFCF diet and cannot eat yogurt, check out The Un-Prescription for Autism, the award-winning book for supporting health on the autism spectrum.)
For more info or to schedule a consult email Gayle directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out #wellnessnutrition.health.blog
(Dr. Lintala’s note: If your picky autistic child won’t eat fermented foods or fruits and vegetables, or is on the GFCF diet and cannot eat yogurt, check out The Un-Prescription for Autism, the award-winning book for supporting health on the autism spectrum that works around these issues.)