A Healthy Gut A Healthy You

Hey guys! I am finally back to blogging! I took some time off for the holidays and then spent the last few weeks figuring out how I wanted to move forward with my blog. I have some exciting things coming up this summer, so stay tuned! 
Anyways, I am trying to stay on the subject of health this month, so today I am kicking things off with a post focused on Gut health! I have done a ton of research and even recently sat in on a lecture about the subject. 

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Gut health has been something that I have gained interest in since becoming pregnant with Liv. When trying to decide what we were going to do about vaccinations, I was doing a TON of research and kept coming across the subject of gut health and how it plays a role in most diseases. The more I read on the subject, the more I became obsessed with it. I couldn't believe that your gut health affected not only digestive issues but also brain and mental health issues! 

People are starting to realize that when the digestive system isn't working well, nothing is going to be working well. The gut interacts with every single system, organ, and cell in the body, many practitioners, even believe that the gastrointestinal tract qualifies as a second brain because it is an autonomous nervous system- the only part of the body that functions on its own.  Neat, huh? Well, this next part is really what struck a chord with me because, as I said I started doing this research trying to decide what was best for my baby.  So I was hooked when I come across research that found that diseases such as obesity, Parkinson's, osteoporosis and autism(?!?!) seem to display early symptoms in the gut!

I am not going to get into the science behind it all because well, a lot of it is over my head and I would do an awful job trying to explain it. All you really need to know is that we are made up of hundreds of thousands of species of tiny microorganisms, called the microbiome. Our gastrointestinal tract is home to a large population of diverse bacteria, called the gut flora. (Are you getting flash-backs to 4th-period science class yet?) Well, through diet and lifestyle we can either promote healthy gut flora, or we can create a hostile environment for good bacteria. 

The more I learn, the more I see how it all comes full circle. Eating healthy and working out makes you feel better right? Well, both of those things are affecting our gut health (studies show that people who exercise regularly have a greater diversity of gut bacteria) which then affects our mood. Digestion, mood, health and even the way we think are all linked to our "second brain" (our gut). 

Okay, so I have I stressed the importance of good gut health yet? Are you ready to do everything in your power to restore your gut flora? 
Well, here is a list of things you can start today! 

How to promote a healthy gut:
- Mindful eating
        Eat foods rich in prebiotic fibers
        Don't stuff yourself
        Choose animal protein wisely (animal fats feed bad bacteria)
        Consume alcohol in moderation
        Consume natural bacteria in cultured dairy and fermented foods
- Physical activity  
       This promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. 
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce stress
       Excess stress can reduce gut flora diversity
 - Taking a probiotic supplement
         This one is a bit controversial...as this entire subject is I guess. But I am personally pro probiotic and I also give Liv a daily probiotic

What should you be avoiding:
-Red meat and processed/cured meats (limit red meat to once weekly)
- Processed foods
- Artifical sweeteners
- Exposure to powerful antibiotics and medications
       Antibiotics not only affect bad bacteria but also the good bacteria, which can lead to harmful changes in the composition of the gut flora. 
              * I have to say I was guilty of this one, always thought I should get antibiotics just in case. Now I only use them as a very last resort. 
- The overuse of antibacterials. Over-sanitization causes a lack of exposure to the bugs that help create immunity. 
              *Yeah, guilty of this one too, I love my hand sanitizer. 
- Pesticide residue
- GMO's

So funny, everything that I have been preaching and trying to incorporate into my life over the last few years....I just never made the connection between it and my gut health. 

Much Love,

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