- Tara Perverseff
It's not all in your head, but it might be in your gut
Updated: May 29, 2022
Have you ever been told the symptoms that you have area "all in your head"? How about this: "oh, you are just tired" or "oh, that's what happens when you get older" or "you have positive markers for autoimmune disease but it doesn't really mean anything; there are millions of people that have it"? Hand up over here! What if it's not all in your head, but partly in your gut? What if things are out of balance?
I wrote in this blog post how 70-80% of your immune system is in the gut. Its influence over our health cannot be overstated and the trillions of little microbes that make up our microbiome in the gut can influence how we look, feel and think. The gut microbiome (communities of bacteria) that live in our digestive tract can influence if we feel good or bad. They can even influence if we feel anxious. Generally, we want our microbiome to be in balance and to be a beautiful, blossoming garden. Think warm sunshine, nice soil, flowers and leaves on the trees. When that garden gets out of balance and is full of weeds and hard soil that cannot absorb any moisture, this is when the problems happen.
An out of balance microbiome can lead to switching on possible disease processes in the body. These issues may seem like they have nothing to do with your gut, but I can tell you that it's very possible that they do. Gut issues can include things like leaky gut, yeast overgrowth (candida) and bacterial imbalances. If we have an overgrowth of certain bacteria, that could cause issues with everything from autoimmune disease to weight gain.
What are some things that can cause poor gut health?
Poor diet: processed foods, sugar, and gluten can impact our microbiome and cause leaky gut. Leaky gut happens when the gut lining is damaged and things like food particles and toxins leak out into the blood stream when they should not. The body recognizes that those things should not be there and can turn on an inflammatory response.
Antibiotics: I don't know about you, but I had strep throat as a kid more times than I can count. Sinus infections, tooth infections plus who knows what else were all treated with a lot of antibiotics. We need antibiotics, for sure, but when we take them, they destroy all of the bad AND the good bacteria. This can cause things to get out of balance and allow the bad bugs to take over. Tip: if you do take antibiotics, try taking a good quality probiotic to replenish some of the good bacteria that has been killed off by the medication.
Stress: when stress is chronic, it can impact our gut. Have you heard of the gut-brain axis? Think about butterflies in your stomach when you are nervous. Chronic stress and turmoil can impact gut inflammation and cause issues with the balance of our microbiome. Stress is one of the hidden sources of inflammation found in this free guide. I invite you to find out what the other hidden sources of inflammation are and take the inflammation quiz to see what your level of inflammation is.
Imbalanced hormones: there is no doubt that hormones can have an impact on gut health. If hormones are out of balance, it can have an impact on the gut lining.
What are some things you can do to improve your gut health?
Elimination diet: Hidden food sensitivities and intolerances play a huge role in gut health. If we are eating foods that are causing damage to our gut that in turn causes inflammation, finding out what these foods are and removing them (even for a period of time) can help. There is a very specific process of how to follow can elimination diet. Doing an elimination diet is not forever, and while the goal is to identify the foods that are causing you issues, it is also to introduce healing foods into your body.
Probiotics: A good quality probiotic can help to support gut health. Tip: look for one that is refrigerated.
L-Glutamine: I can tell you from personal experience that L-glutamine helped to support my gut health. It helps to support gut permeability (leaky gut). Food sources of L-glutamine include bone broth which is another things you can use to try improving gut health.
Eat more fiber: Eating fiber helps to build up and support good bacteria. Healthy bacterial love good fiber.
For more information, I talk about how gut health is connected to disease, what an unhealthy gut looks like, and a journey of gut healing from a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach in this video. I talk about what I did to work on improving my gut health and what the results were. For someone with multiple autoimmune issues, it was an eye opening experience! When I went on a journey to heal my gut, I started with a lot of testing, but even in absence of that, there are things you can do to get started on improving gut health. Things like identifying food sensitivities and working on mindset are key. Reducing inflammation will help support better overall health and for me, I am focused on how I want to feel and what having good health will allow me to do! It certainly is a process and I am still working on it.
Of course, make sure to check with your physician on all of these things before starting a diet or supplement program.