By Staff of Forum Health Modesto
One of the pillars of functional medicine is that we look at our health as a holistic network of intricate factors, not just isolated health issues or symptoms and consequences. Functional medicine recognizes that the individual aspects of your health as well as the relationships between them play different roles in how we look and feel. Your gut health is one such factor, playing a myriad of different roles in your wellbeing, but also the look and feel of your skin.
Chances are, if you’ve ever had acne trouble or your immune system has been acting up, it could have something to do with your gut health. Let’s explore how your gut is connected to your overall vitality and how you can contribute to your gut health and thus your beauty!
The Many Roles of Your Gut
Before we move on to all the creative and delicious ways you can boost your gut health, it’s important to understand what kind of roles this part of your organism plays in your wellbeing:
- First and foremost, your gut microbiome (also known as the sum of microorganisms residing in your belly) helps with healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, which then contributes to your overall health.
- Your gut affects your hormone production, so keeping your hormones balanced requires a strong, healthy gut. That’s one of the main reasons your gut supports your healthy, radiant skin, as well!
- Lowering the risk of diabetes by helping with healthy insulin production.
- By impacting hormone and neurotransmitter production (such as serotonin, dopamine, etc.) and by being physically connected to the brain through hundreds of nerves, your gut protects your brain health.
- Your gut helps keep the unhealthy cholesterol in check, thus protecting your heart and cardiovascular health.
- Your gut microbiome is an inextricable part of your immune system, which means that you’ll be better equipped to ward off illnesses when your gut is healthy.
Eat the Rainbow
Probiotics and prebiotics are your microbiome’s best friends! By consuming a diverse menu of fiber-packed foods and probiotic-rich foods, you can enhance your gut health over time. The key component here to remember is consistency. You cannot expect results to be apparent overnight or to stay on track with a healthy diet for a week and then abandon your healthy eating habits. Instead, aim to stay persistent and consistent, and your gut will be grateful!
Pro tip: make sure you don’t have any food intolerances or sensitivities that affect your gut health. Perhaps some foods are healthy on their own, but your microbiome might not appreciate it that much, so tailor your nutrition based on your needs. If necessary, add healthy, gut-boosting supplements to your diet, to provide some nourishing reinforcements to your wellbeing.
What you eat does play an important role in your health. However, how you eat is equally essential, especially when it comes to your microbiome. Remember, digestion begins in your mouth, so eating slowly, carefully chewing your food, and taking your time contributes to the healthy digestion process and enables your gut to work more smoothly. Add to that, be mindful of what not to consume and what to add more to your menu:
- Too much sugar, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals and flavor enhancers aren’t good for your microbiome.
- Make sure to minimize your alcohol intake and smoking, as both have an adverse effect on your gut.
- Fermented foods are great for your health, so make sure you add some yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and the like to your daily menu.
De-stress Whenever Possible
Too little sleep and too much stress and anxiety can also affect the health and balance of your gut microbiome. That can wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns, leading to insomnia or continuous fatigue, and then a whole slew of additional health issues.
Too much stress changes your hormones, and that can lead to gut imbalances, let alone poor eating habits and sugar consumption when we’re stressed and allow ourselves to “eat our emotions”. To truly keep your gut resilient, focus on your mental and emotional wellbeing, too!
Trust Your Gut!
Since the microbiome is always trying to tell you something, be sure to listen. Sometimes, symptoms we don’t normally associate with gut health can actually reflect the balance of those good bacteria in your intestines, and your ability to absorb healthy nutrients.
- Your sugar cravings might be indicating that your body isn’t getting enough nutrients from your diet, so perhaps an imbalance is an issue.
- If your weight fluctuates, it could be linked to your gut health.
- Acne, zits, irritated skin, and anything you find unusual with your complexion could be the consequence of poor gut health.
- Feeling tired? Maybe you’re not giving your body the right kind of food, so your belly isn’t able to sustain your energy levels.
Functional medicine looks at your whole lifestyle to find the root cause of your health issues.