Let’s talk about your gut.
I know…this is a delicate topic. It can be super uncomfortable to talk about, and it maybe even feels a little taboo. Let’s be honest: It’s not something you even share regularly (or ever!) with your BFFs. But when we don’t talk about these types of issues, especially when they affect our health and overall well-being, we end up hurting ourselves and suffering—sometimes for years—in silence. I think this is especially true for us women, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
The topic of gut health is very near and dear to my heart—and my gut—because I personally suffered from the effects of poor gut health for years. It severely affected so many aspects of my life from how I felt to how I thought, and the scary part is that I didn’t even realize what was going on. I just assumed the side effects were part of life, part of aging.
I don’t want what happened to me to also happen to you! So consider this your opportunity to learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to suffer the same way I did.
First off, let’s lay some groundwork and discuss your gut.
What Makes Up Your Gut?
Basically, your entire gastrointestinal tract from your mouth all the way down to your anus (I know…not a word you commonly see on my blog, but remember, we’re getting real here!). This includes your stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, and large and small intestines.
What does your gut do? Why is healthy gut function so important?
To put it simply, your gut lets the good stuff (nutrients and water) in and keeps the bad stuff (toxins and antigens) out. How does this work? You have between 300-500 different kinds of bacteria living in your gut, and they are constantly being replaced through your diet. They combine with other things like viruses and fungi to make up your microbiota. Your microbiota is different from everyone else’s, and it’s determined by your mother’s microbiota, your birth environment, and your lifestyle and diet. In fact, diet can play a huge role in the health of your gut microbiota, which can affect everything in your body: your mood, your metabolism, and your immune system.
Since almost 70% of your body’s immune cells are in or near your gut (crazy, right?), if your gut’s not working properly, and if you’re not replenishing the healthy bacteria through a good diet, the good stuff (good bacteria and nutrients) CANNOT enter your body to fulfill its functions and the bad stuff (yeast, toxins, undigested foods, etc.) CAN enter your body. This is commonly known as leaky gut.
How Your Gut Affects Your Health
Curious if you have leaky gut? Well, when you have leaky gut, besides just not feeling your best, you can experience one or more of the following long list of symptoms. These first ones are what you’d probably normally associate with a troubled gut.
But you know what? There are many more you might not even think could be caused by an unhealthy gut! Check these out:
And even more:
- Respiratory infections
- Weight gain
And still more:
- Skin issues
- Cravings for sugar or carbs
- Memory loss
- Brain fog (now…that explains a lot!)
- Plus, one I’ve been very vocal about on social media—hair loss!
Let’s go back to that brain fog one for a minute. How can an unhealthy gut affect your brain function? Basically, your gut is like a 2nd brain! Your gut and brain are connected through what’s called the gut-brain axis. This means that your gut connects to your brain through your nervous system, your immune system, and through neurotransmitters, which are responsible for controlling feelings and emotions. #andstress! This sheds a whole new light on the sayings, “Follow your gut!” and “Love your guts!” 😉
You’re now probably wondering what can cause gut issues?
- Long-term use of NSAIDs, birth control, and corticosteroids
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Pathogenic bacteria
- Stress #ohmy
- Environmental contaminants
- Eating excessive sugar and/or refined carbohydrates
- Similarly, some other things we need to be careful about—processed foods and flavorings
“Heal the gut and you heal yourself.” ~Gerard E. Mullin, MD
So what can you do to heal your gut? Many of these suggestions shouldn’t surprise you:
- Lower your stress
- Get enough sleep
- Eat more slowly
- Drink enough water
- Eat healthy, whole, unprocessed foods
- Eat enough fiber!
- Take a prebiotic or probiotic
That last one has seriously changed my gut health AND my life—the proof is in the pudding for me! Here are a couple of stories to show you how!
Story #1: Three years ago—at the age of 33, I was losing my hair! I found out I had premature androgenetic alopecia, and if you’ve been following me for that long, you probably saw me post on social media how absolutely devastating this was for me. I was doing everything I should be doing to practice good self-care: working out very regularly, great nutrition, sleeping as much as I could, good skin care routine…but I was still losing my freaking hair!
I was also feeling foggy, had low energy, and was really just not feeling great. After meeting with my doctor and going through some testing, we discovered that my gut health was not good, which contributed to my early onset androgenetic alopecia. Of course, she gave me an immediate hair loss prevention protocol— lasers, shampoos, sprays, etc.—but also notified me that all these “emergency tools” were doing was bandaging the REAL problem...my unhealthy gut! We did some blood testing to identify allergies, etc., but she suggested I IMMEDIATELY start taking a probiotic to begin repairing some of my gut damage.
I must admit, it was a little embarrassing to be a “health and fitness expert” and admit the one of the simplest and most important multivitamins was NOT already a part of my daily regime! Needless to say, I began taking a daily probiotic, and I haven’t looked back since. While it’s tough to know the EXACT factors that have contributed to my health turning around for the positive, my mental clarity coming back, and my hair loss stabilizing, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this difference couldn’t have been made without incorporating a daily probiotic. My hair loss stopped (no regrowth, but hey, I’ll take it!), I had way more energy, the brain fog was gone, and I felt so much better in so many ways!
Story #2: We travel. A lot. And I’ve found that all that travel can really play havoc on my system, especially my gut. Being in different places, in different time zones, and often in different cultures with different foods can really throw my entire body (namely my gut) out of whack. For years, I struggled to find some kind of normalcy and digestive system regularity with my unpredictable, always-on-th-go lifestyle. And believe it or not, it wasn’t until I started taking a probiotic (thanks to my hair loss team’s recommendation) that I was able to feel normal…for the first time maybe ever. Keeping a bottle of probiotics in my carry one at all times helps remind me to take them daily, and it helps keep my system status quo so I can enjoy wherever we are and not feel like a train hit me when I get home.
What’s my fave probiotic, you ask? Renew Life Probiotics, hands down. Not only are they a very well-known and trusted brand that has been around for years, but their products are conveniently found at most high-quality health stores and grocers nationwide. As a busy mom, it’s hard for me to take the time to research what is good and what is not, but the proof is in the pudding with Renew Life Probiotics. My own personal experience with this brand for a year is solid, AND I love that I only need to take one pill a day! #win
Their probiotics strengthen your gut with three times more good bacteria and more strains to improve your overall digestion. This is three times more good bacteria and strains than compared to the leading brand’s 10B CFU Probiotic. All that said, please remember to discuss any probiotics with your healthcare team first, and then follow their recommendations regarding what is best for you!
Are you ready to heal your gut? Gut issues or NO gut issues, my suggestions above can definitely help you feel healthier AND happier! So let’s get started—choose just one thing to do this week:
- Start taking a probiotic (after you chat with your doctor, of course!)
- Drink an extra quart of water every day
- Eat more fiber! Remember this when looking for good sources of fiber: seeds, strings, stalks, and skins
- Get 30 minutes of extra sleep each night, and if you can’t do that, aim for at least 15!
- Actually enjoy your meals—slow down while eating!
- Practice stress reduction (or as mentioned in a previous blog, simply change the way you view stress!)
And if you have any questions about your own gut health, your healthcare team is only a phone call away! Talk with them and let them help you get your gut back on the road to health. And here’s a quiz from Renew Life that can help you choose the correct probiotic for you. Alright…choose one thing to work on, and comment below telling me what it is!
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**Thank you, Renew Life, for sponsoring this post! The opinions shared and discussed in this post are my own.**