“What goes in the gut doesn’t stay in the gut. It’s not like Las Vegas. What goes on in the gut affects your whole body,” said one of my favorite celeb doctors, Dr. Frank Lipman. Gut health doesn’t sound like the sexiest topic, but it’s a topic that relates to every single one of us and is one I’m extremely passionate about. Fun fact: I am a certified holistic health coach! Yes, it’s shocking to learn that make up is not my only passion *gasp.*
Behind closed doors, our gut is responsible for putting our body to work. It breaks down the foods we eat and absorbs nutrients that support our body's functions. Yep, from energy production to mental health, and hormone balance to toxin and waste elimination...that’s all our guts work. In fact, 70% of the immune system takes shelter in the gut. Keeping our gut in prime shape can solve many of our bodily concerns, both externally and internally.
Our Gut Is Our Second Brain
Our bellies go far beyond just processing what we eat. In connection with the brain in our skulls, our stomach “brains,” partly determine our emotional/mental state and feelings of well-being. It can also lead to brain fog and interrupt our thought processes. It informs our state of mind in much more complicated ways. I’m sure you’ve heard (and felt) the saying, “I have butterflies in my stomach.” Or, heard (or experienced) a “gut feeling” about something. Well, it's explainable...A big part of our emotions is influenced by the nerves in our gut.
Besides your brain, the gut has its own nervous system. In fact, the small intestines have as many neurons as your spinal cord. OMG! Think of all the junk food we are exposing our gut neurons to...that can’t be good! Did you know that 95% of our serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy, is made in the gut? And if our gut isn’t doing well, we’re more likely to not feel well, mentally and physically.
I have personally struggled with my gut health for my entire life. I have Celiacs Disease, an autoimmune disease where if I eat anything with gluten, my immune system attacks my small intestines. I have also struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life. This is why I focus so much on keeping mine, and my families, gut in good health.
What Is Our Microbiome?
Our (three to five pound) Microbiome lives in our gut and basically houses trillions of both good and bad bacteria. Along with the other things I listed, the gut, and more specifically, the microbiome helps with digestion, regulating our immune system, producing important vitamins, assists in preventing aging, etc. When the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your microbiome become unbalanced, you can have some very impactful health issues. To avoid this, keep it balanced with healthy foods, managing stress levels, probiotics and avoiding too much sugar.
Sugar x Skin Breakouts
Keep your gut glowing, and your skin will follow! Are you still breaking out even after trying new skincare products? If you answered yes, you’re most likely in need of revamping your diet, specifically steering clear from sugar. Foods with high sugar content cause insulin levels to spike, which results in oil production. AKA clogged pores and pesky breakouts. The best solution is to cut out high-sugar foods.
There are other foods, like dairy, gluten, tomatoes, etc., that can cause skin breakouts and rashes. A Functional Medicine Doctor is well-versed in gut health and can get you some proper tests to determine if you have any food intolerances that are causing these gut-related skin issues. Telehealth has become popular since quarantine began so don’t limit yourself to just the area you live in! As with any doctor, make sure you do your research, check credentials and read reviews.You all should know I'm big on research by now!
Starter Tips on Getting Your Gut Health In Check
Probiotics - Say hello to friendly bacteria. It is no coincidence that beauty and wellness come hand in hand. Many skin care gurus and businesses such as Gisele Bündchen and Net-a-Porter, have added probiotics into their product line. Probiotics contribute to improving our gut by feeding it healthy bacteria, which results in the improvement of skin health. Make sure to read the labels and reviews to double-check that it’s a quality probiotic! Dr. Mark Hyman recommends when looking for a probiotic, “Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5 to 10 billion organisms per capsule. Lactobacillus plantarum and spore forms of Bacillus are the best for immunity.” Here are some of my top recommendations:
I am personally on medical grade probiotics and will be for the rest of my life. There are a few reasons why, including my Celiacs Disease, but that is for another blog…😊
Check for food intolerances - If you experience cramping, bloating, acid reflux, or anything that feels abnormal, you have a high chance of suffering from a food intolerance. Try eliminating common trigger foods to see if any of these symptoms improve!
Exercise - Ah, the common fix of it all. It’s common for a reason! Physical activity gets your colon moving around, which is a great tip for regulating bowel movements. Cute!
Drink water and limit alcohol and caffeine - Make sure you’re hitting your necessary water intake, daily. Alcohol and caffeine are both digestive stimulants, so try to cut down!
Increase fiber intake - Gradually increase the fiber in your diet to help regulate your digestive system. It’s important to eat at least 20-30 grams of fiber a day. The key is to start with small servings and gradually increase them to avoid extra bloating, gas, and discomfort.
Stay away from processed foods - It tastes good, but it ain’t good. Processed foods are full of sugar and things your gut really doesn’t need in its life. The added sugars kill the good bacteria that your gut needs
Eat slowly - Chewing thoroughly and eating slowly can help promote full digestion so that your body can properly absorb the nutrients!
Manage stress - Too much stress is never good for you, or your gut. Try managing your stress levels with activities like yoga, meditation, therapy, and sitting outside. Literally, anything that soothes you
Bottom line, your gut communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones. The healthier the gut, the better your general health and well-being...not to mention, the more glow in your skin! I highly recommend reading up on my favorite books on all things gut health:
The Inflammation Spectrum: Find Your Food Triggers and Reset Your System, by Will Dr. Cole and Eve Adamson
- Younger Skin Starts in the Gut, by Dr. Nigma Talib
If you have any questions, please slide in the DM’s and ask!