Until a few months ago I can admit with full honesty that I had no idea the importance that my gut had in my life. I had always heard about people taking probiotics but the truth is that I never understood why. I only took probiotics when I was on an antibiotic because I was once told it would help prevent me from getting a yeast infection. As you can see; clueless. As those of you know who have been reading along with me through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and weaning my skin has been of major focus. I felt that I couldn’t keep up with the changes that my body was going through and my skin, aka my facial acne, was to show for it. I visited dermatologists who wanted to put me on hardcore meds, got a number of skin care treatments/peels/facials at medical spas, and then went on to spend more money than I’d like to admit on skin care… and, I will say that the facials and skincare products did and continue to make a difference, but the underlying issue all along was never my skin– it was my gut.
I would be lying if I told you that I remembered exactly the day that I put it all together but I feel like it was around 3-4 months after I stopped nursing Lennon (February of this year). I remember thinking to myself that there was no way that four months after weaning that my body was STILL adjusting to the hormones that come with that… so, I started my research. For considering myself to be a health conscious and healthy individual, I remember feeling like I had lived under a rock for my entire life when I started reading about the impact that our guts have on our entire lives.
I have been debating on the best way to lay this post out and how to avoid it from getting too wordy/lengthy/keeping it as straight forward as possible I’ve decided to utilize sections and bullet points. I figure this way you can look for the facts that speak best to you and your current situation. As with anything that I write/share, please always DM or email me if you have additional questions and I’ll do my very best to get back to you! I pray that there are answers to some of your questions in the info below! xo, G
WHY GUT HEALTH MATTERS
What is happening in your gut is affecting:
- Depression: more than 1/3 of those diagnosed with depression have leaky gut, or gut permeability– which essentially means that bacteria is seeping out and into the bloodstream.
- Anxiety: prebiotics (foods that we eat that also feed the bacteria that live in our guts) can have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects. consuming beneficial bacteria can change the way the brain responds to it’s environment.
- Obesity, diabetes: a number of studies have linked instability in the gut to obesity and obesity-related health issues.
- Colon Cancer: the sugar-loving microbes in the gut, along with the carbs that feed them, can fuel colon cancer.
- Ulcerative Colitis: imbalances in the gut flora may be the main factor is the onset and continuing symptoms.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: there is a definitive link between IBS and an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
- Mental Health: have you ever heard of the gut-brain connection? The bacteria (or lack of) in your gut, play a role in your overall mental health status. Did you know that 80% of your serotonin is produced in the gut? Which means that what’s going on in your gut is going to affect your mood–anxiety, depression, and overall mood.
- Immunity: 80% of your immune system is in your gut.
- Irregular Sleep Patterns: or simply, difficulty sleeping.
- Ability to become pregnant.
- Inability to lose weight.
COMMON SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY GUT
- Constipation or diarrhea.
- Excessive bloating/gas.
- Food sensitivity.
- Bad/unpleasant taste in your mouth.
- Foggy/erratic brain.
- Mood swings.
- Skin problems– acne, eczema, etc.
Before you start to panic that you have symptoms from the above list please know that appearance of a few of the symptoms simply means that you can fix yourself with a few simple steps. If you notice that you have the entire list going on in your life, it may be time for a full-on diet/gut reset.
TOP 10 COMMON CAUSES OF GUT IMBALANCE
- Antibiotics: antibiotics cannot distinguish between the good and the bad bacteria… so, you may be treating that strep throat, but you are killing off all of the good bacteria in your gut.
- Birth Control: I have talked SO much about birth control on my IG lately and I have been transparent with why I chose to remove my IUD http://grace-allen.com/2018/04/why-i-chose-to-remove-my-copper-iud/
- Poor Diet: the more processed foods that are in your diet leaves less room for health-giving foods.
- Glyphosate (aka, roundup): this is found on so many of the fruits and vegetables that we eat… which is why it is so important to buy Organic when you have the option and to always wash your produce. This chemical is sprayed on the produce to keep bacteria and things from eating it, but the problem with that is that when we consume the produce that chemical is then free and rampant in our systems killing off all of our good bacteria.
- Chlorine: Chlorine is added to tap water to prevent the overgrowth of pathogens (similar to the way antibiotics work to kill off all bacteria). Do your best to drink filtered water when possible, or choose to invest in a water filtration/purification system for your home.
- Lack of Fiber
- Alcohol use: “beer gut” or “beer belly” isn’t just a coincidence– many studied have shown the connection between chronic alcohol use and gut issues.
- Frequent use of antacids.
- Overuse of antibacterial soaps/sanitizers.
- NSAID’s like Aspirin and Ibuprofen.
BEST FOODS TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR DIET TO HELP YOUR GUT
Diversity in our diets allows for diversity in our guts. If we don’t eat enough good prebiotic foods that allow for an overgrowth of the “bad” gut bacteria– candida/yeast, etc. It is very important to incorporate a few of these into your daily diet and to continue to switch it up so that the gut is diverse.
- Dark Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, etc.
- Flax & Chia Seeds
- Squash & Zucchini
- Legumes** this may irritate some people so pay close attention
- Nuts & Seeds
- Fermented Foods: kombucha, kimchi, apple cider vinegar, pickled foods, etc.
- Non-dairy yogurt
HOW TO DO A TOTAL GUT RESET
So, chances are you might be freaking out by now realizing that you have completely abandoned your gut and it’s health. It’s okay, I felt the same way. The beautiful thing about our guts is that they don’t take too long to start showing drastic changes.. like, I am talking only 2-3 days! I notice a huge change in my body and my digestion when I am on top of my daily probiotics, kombucha and consuming plenty of greens. Even if you feel that you’re a pretty healthy person it never hurts to take your health to the next level… or as I like to say “when you know better, do better!”
- Say goodbye to conventional dairy, processed foods, and alcohol.
- Limit the consumption of sugar, gluten, soy, and caffeine.
- Find the right probiotic for you. Don’t be alarmed when you’re looking at $30-$50 for a bottle– the price will reflect the quality. Also, be sure to find a probiotic that is diverse in what it has inside. Whole Foods and Amazon both run good monthly specials, keep an eye out.
- Drink warm lemon water every morning and tea every night.
- Get into bed earlier and be sure you’re getting 7+ hours of sleep each night.
- Only take antibiotics when it’s absolutely critical.
- Evaluate your birth control situation…
- Get adequate amounts of omega 3’s and collagen: wild caught fish, bone broth, etc.
- Drink enough water.
- Remove stress and toxic relationships (this is more important than you may think).
I hope that this post was informative and that you learned something new. Our health and our lives are an individual journey that each of us on. It’s important to always remember that the solutions are never going to be a one size fits all. Having said that, my approach is to always share the knowledge that I have just in case it can help even one person. The truth is that we have to start paying better attention to ourselves and our health. We are meant to feel good, to sleep well and to flourish… and when we feel that our bodies are acting otherwise it is ALWAYS for a reason. I truly believe that today’s world doesn’t quite understand how amazing our bodies are meant to feel. You can be healthy. You can glow from the inside out. You can make the necessary changes to be proud of the life that you live and as always, I am here on this journey with you.
we all deserve to live in a body and in a life that we are proud of. xo, G
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