Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
Research shows more and more that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies and autoimmune conditions.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.
So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.
Our gut’s role in our overall health
Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.
This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.
For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.
FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.
A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.
The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.
So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!
How to improve gut health
There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.
You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.
By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.
The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.
Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.
And don’t forget the important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.
The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.
The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.
Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots
1 L warm water
4 tsp salt
4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)
Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.
Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top.
Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don’t float (you can use a “fermenting weight”).
Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.
Raw food has so many benefits. It’s rich in enzymes, all the vitamins remain intact, and typically it’s easier on the digestive system than cooked food. Until the gut lining is not inflamed. You see there are just some vegetables that are difficult to digest raw. Particularly vegetables in the cruciferous family- cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower etc.
They can be very irritating for our gut.
The reason these vegetables are difficult to process and often cause gas is because they contain high levels of sulfur and fiber. This is part of the reason cruciferous vegetables are so nourishing. The sulfur fights back against harmful free radicals and they have a powerful detoxifying effect.
While the enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants in vegetables are extremely beneficial, they’re useless if your body can’t process them. In the beginning of your digestive journey, when you’re working on rebuilding your gut flora and strengthening the intestinal lining, raw vegetables aren’t the best thing.
Too often, your body ends up spending more energy digesting these foods than they receive from them. As you work on strengthening your digestive system, take it easy with raw veggies.
Here are a few ways you can get the benefits of cruciferous vegetables without the gas and bloating…
- Ferment your veggies to unlock their nutrients, check out phickle for some great recipes
- Juice them
- Lightly steam, saute or roast your veggies and top with a bit of coconut oil or ghee for better nutrient absorption
- Blend them into a smoothie
- Chew your veggies thoroughly, at least 20 times before swallowing
- Digestive enzymes help me when I eat foods that might cause gas or bloating
Over time as you build up your microbiome and repair the lining of the intestines it’ll be much easier to process raw vegetables. These things take time so be patient with yourself and don’t let the process stop you from enjoying these health promoting vegetables.
If you’re seriously interested in getting healthy, restoring your digestion and boosting your energy then check out my new comprehensive program Restore your Gut Health, details here www.drilona.com/guthealth In the program you get a ton of delicious satisfying recipes as well as strategies that will help rebuild your intestinal flora.
Or join me on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/healthandvitalitywithdrilona where I’ll be sharing more information, tips and recipes to help you live a happier, healthier life.
To your wellness,
Detox is vital in this toxic world. For so many years as an MD and a health coach I focused simply on digestion because I do believe that good digestion leads to a healthy life. But then one day the light went off in my head. I realized that to have good digestion, you must be detoxing properly.
You see, detox is a natural step toward a better digestion. Good digestion leads to less inflammation, and less inflammation leads to less disease in this world. Let me say it again, decrease the inflammation and prevent disease.
If this is true and disease begins in the gut, aka your digestive system, then having a healthy and strong digestion is key. But let me share a secret with you – when the body is toxic, your digestive system is weak.
So even if you eat “clean” and only buy organic and hormone-free foods, you are still breathing toxicity in this world.
We live, eat and breathe toxicity every day. Look around your home and think of the paint on the walls, the rugs, the pesticides sprayed on your green grass, the exterminator to get rid of the bugs. Even if you are chemical-free in your home, is your chemical makeup free?
Even if you are doing your best to live a chemical-free life, we are still alive, and that means eating, breathing, and sleeping in a toxic environment.
Unless you feel that are ready to live in a bubble or a hyperbaric chamber, then it is time to wake up to what I call daily detox.
Now detox is not a curse word or anything to be scared about. Instead, it is exciting to think about your body and cells actually functioning. I do not tell people detox has to be living on juices, or water only, or only smoothies or just salad or soup. Detox is about lessening the toxic load in your body. As I say, “taking out the trash.”
When we are toxic, our body cannot perform its job. The body cannot metabolize properly, detox properly, absorb nutrients and minerals, or stay hydrated. It is a vicious cycle. See, detox is necessary to be healthy, happy and free of disease. We all have some low-level inflammation because again we breathe, but even more so we stress in this busy world.
Every time you stress you create acid in your body. Your body is then forced to pull minerals to buffer the acid waste. The liver, lymph and kidneys begin to work hard to filter out the toxic load.
But what happens when the body is tired and clogged? When your digestive system is not working and cannot break down these foods, it cannot focus on getting RID of TOXINS. That means you cannot get rid of bloat and fat and skin breakouts and all that jazz that keeps you tired.
TOXINS=>WEAK DIGESTION=>WEAK IMMUNE FUNCTION
- Difficult weight management
- Low energy
- Low sex drive
- Bad skin
- Get where I am going with all of this?
By detoxing you will improve digestion and free your body of inflammation and toxins in the process.
The foundation of this detox is NOT to ever feel deprived or starved.
The goal is to help you do what I have learned to do in my own life: learn how to EAT CLEAN and learn what foods are IRRITATING your body.
Click below and let’s change your life today.
Now that you’ve learned a little more about the benefits of detoxing, how can you start bringing it into your daily life?
Here are a few of my favorite ways to stay healthy and detox naturally:
- Upon waking, drink warm or room-temperature water with lemon and 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar (if tolerated) and add a dash of cinnamon or cayenne.
- Start your day by being positive – find that daily affirmation that gets you fired up. I love Louise Hay, Geneen Roth, Gabrielle Bernstein and Marianne Williamson.
- Try getting quiet within yourself even just for one minute – and say “I release what does not serve me” – place your hand on your heart as you say this out loud. Scream if it you want, own that power.
- Drink fresh green juices or make your own green juice with 1 tbsp. chlorophyll and lemon and lime and water.
- Aim for one meal that is super easy on your digestion per day like a smoothie, green juice or soup. Give that digestion a rest.
- Get moving and shaking. Yes, exercise is one of the best ways to detox your body.
- Drink plenty of water and add lemon, lime or grapefruit to flush the toxicity.
- Skin brushing is my favorite way to support the liver and get rid of those toxins.
- Tongue scraping.
- Be happy and grateful for life.
All fresh fruits and vegetables contain magical powers when it comes to shiny hair, clear skin, and strong nails. However, the ones I’ve chosen below are perhaps not as well known for their powerful beauty benefits. Try and include these foods into your diet if you want to look your best without the need for botox or other unnatural remedies.
- Red Peppers. All red and orange colored foods contain beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Red peppers are particularly beautifying due to the minerals A, C, and K. Vitamins A and C can help prevent cell damage that leads to premature ageing, and they can also reduce inflammation, which can cause a puffy-looking face. Pepper also has Vitamin K, which is an excellent property for protecting our cells from damage.
- Spinach. All leafy greens are actually very powerful in terms of being a beauty food because of the chlorophyll they contain. There are also loads of other phytochemicals and fiber in spinach that help build blood that is super clean and which will show through in your skin.
- Turmeric. This yellow-colored, Indian spice has a load of powerful antioxidant qualities. Turmeric assists in protecting our cells from free radical damage and also contributes towards cleaning up metabolic waste in our systems. It is also great as a liver flusher to get rid of any poisons and chemicals which are stored there.
- Pumpkin Seeds. Wow, these really are powerful. What don’t pumpkin seeds have in them?! The humble pumpkin seed contains high levels of zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B, C, and E. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, all essential for healthy cell maintenance. Make a handful of pumpkin seeds a regular part of your diet, and you will definitely notice a change in your appearance.
- Parsley. Next time your plate is garnished with parsley, don’t push it aside. This is a pretty powerful herb when it comes to anti-aging, as well as purifying and cleansing the body. It contains vitamins A and C as well as anti-oxidizing flavonoids that protect our cells from free radical damage. Parsley also helps to purify the blood, kill bacteria, aid digestion, and cleanse toxins from the liver.
The best thing is that all these foods are easy to incorporate into your diet. Add turmeric to juice and combine the other foods with some other fixings to make a great, beautifying salad. Who said that beauty was hard to keep?
You know how nice it feels to drive your car home after getting a tune up? The oil is squeaky clean, the fluids have been topped off, windshield wipers have been changed, tire pressure is at that perfect level, and it’s been washed inside and out? Well, just like our cars need a tune up, a seasonal detox allows our bodies to become shiny and new again too. It allows our body to reboot our metabolism, boost our immunity, clears the cobwebs from our minds, gives our skin a chance to glow, and allows us to lose weight effortlessly.
Are you afraid that it will be too hard or that maybe you aren’t worth it? I know for a fact that you ARE worth it, because I know deep down you are just like me. You want to be happy. You want to feel energetic, vibrant, and full of joy. Do you remember what that feels like? You can be confident in the fact that you are worth it. You are enough! AND, I will be with you every step of the way supporting you, answering your questions, and cheering you on, because I know you can do this.
Maybe a little fear comes up for you at the thought of not being able to eat your favorite foods.
Are you concerned about giving up your daily coffee, chocolate, or evening cocktails perhaps?
Are you afraid I’m going to make you drink juice and smoothies all day?
Maybe you think that you will feel hungry or deprived. No worries, my friend, because I’ve created this detox so you can pick which level of detox adventure you want to go on. Having all these feelings are natural, but you know what is not natural? Feeling like we have to constantly count calories, not eat any fat, and go around in circles from one diet to the next. The thought of doing that for the rest of my life sounds just plain exhausting!
There is no reason to be scared because you will NOT feel deprived. We are going to keep it simple and eat wholesome, nourishing foods. The only thing you have to lose is some unwanted poundage, dark circles and puffiness under your eyes, and that feeling of lethargy that has been dragging you down. You will discover your blueprint for the foods that work for your unique body.
I have everything you will need: a step-by-step guide, the recipes, a shopping list and meal planner, as well as a transition recipe packet & food diary. I will be with you every step of the way with daily e-mail support and to cheer you on.
Register now and change your life forever!