Wellness Centre - Gut Health - Health Tea Box

Gut Health

Have you been experiencing symptoms like bloating, gas, or irregular bowel movements? Having difficulty focusing, feeling constantly fatigued or more easily irritated? Or perhaps you keep having skin breakouts that you just can’t figure out?

You may be surprised to know that these are all connected to a common theme: gut health. This month we’re talking about why it’s important to look after your gut and taking a deeper look at all the systems and symptoms that are impacted by poor gut health.

Why Looking After your Gut Matters

When it comes to issues with digestion, most people associate classic symptoms such as an upset stomach, constipation or loose stool. While these are indeed indicators of a poorly functioning gut, there are other signs that you may be less aware of that signal the need for gut healing. In fact, research continues to show an increasing number of aspects of health and human function that are impacted by the gut, even going so far as to say the gut is connected via an axis directly to the brain. In other words, you’re not wrong about having that gut feeling! Let’s dig deeper into some of the areas that the gut affects:

Gut and Brain – New research has overturned the existence of the gut brain axis: the idea that there is a connection between the gut and brain and that they are able to communicate between one another and send and receive signals.  Scientists are calling the gut the second brain, as the walls of the gastrointestinal tract are lined with nerve cells, which are extremely sensitive and able to communicate nervous signals from the intestines.  While the main role of these cells is to function in digestion, stimulating the release of enzymes, and controlling blood flow, they are also there to talk to our main brain.  It is this communication that sends information that can affect our mood, anxiety and happiness levels, cause hormones (like serotonin) to be released or not released, and which is having profound impacts on treating individuals with disorders such as IBS.

Gut and Immunity – One of the main functions of the gut is to process food, absorb nutrients and separate the digestible matter from the waste, before sending the waste along the path to be eliminated.  With a compromised gut, this process does not occur very smoothly.  An imbalance of bacteria within the gut, prevents the secretion of proper enzymes for digestion, and causes food to sit in the gut, undigested, putrefying and releasing toxins into the intestinal tract.  These toxins and undigested food are the cause of issues such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, but when they enter the blood stream (due to increased permeability), they can be viewed as foreign invaders, eliciting an attack by the immunesystem.  These are the early stages of allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Gut and Skin – When dysbiosis and toxic buildup occurs in the gut, typically leading to inflammation and poor mucosal membrane function, the lining of the gut also becomes more permeable and toxins are more capable of entering the blood stream, as detailed above.  Once out of the intestinal tract, the body will try to eliminate these wastes and toxins, and one method of doing so is via the skin.  Our skin is a very delicate organ and when toxins enter and upset the balance, it can result in skin breakouts.  This issue is exasperated by the fact that doctors often prescribe antibiotics to individuals who have chronic acne, and this further compromises the bacteria in the stomach.

More than how the gut impacts our health however, it is also important to understand the symptoms that are indicative of compromised gut health and how to know if you may be expressing gut imbalances.

How do I Know if I Have Compromised Gut Health?

Inside your gut are hundreds of thousands of bacteria.  They live, replicate, feed, drink, die, and essentially maintain their own living environment and complete biome within the walls of our intestine.  They exist in two main types, which we will refer to as good and bad bacteria.  Both of these types are required for our health, and both types are required in specific numbers to create the optimal gut environment, critical for maintaining health and wellbeing.

The healthy gut bacteria perform a a series of functions, including secreting enzymes for digestion, making vitamin K for skin health, detoxifying and cleansing the digestive tract, secreting certain B vitamins, helping absorb vitamins and minerals, and interacting with many of the systems as indicated above. But when the bacteria is out of balance or there are other problems occurring with gut function, you may experience any number of symptoms which can be indicative of a compromised gut:

  • Irregular bowel movements, including constipation, diarrhoea or irregularity in elimination schedule.
  • Gas, acid reflux or persistent “gurgling” sounds in the stomach
  • Stomach discomfort including cramping, nausea or bloating; alternatively, it may feel as if food sits in the stomach for an extended period of time and the stomach is slow to empty.
  • Recurrent fatigue, where the body feels particularly drained and every day tasks seem far more difficult.
  • Change in mood including increased irritability, shortened temper or symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Unexplained skin breakouts or change in skin complexion.
  • Inability or difficult concentrating, staying focused or recruiting optimised brain power to complete tasks.
  • Bad breath or unusual smelling breath.

This is just an example of some of the symptoms that can be indicative of gut distress. Everybody experiences different outcomes, but overall, most of us can benefit from focusing on improved gut health.

Natural Solutions to Poor Gut Health

And the good news is, that helping improve your gut and undertaking gut healing activities is something you can accomplish yourself through some dedicated time and effort, and with the help of some natural solutions. Use these tips in making dietary changes to facilitate improved gut function, healing and long-term gut health:

  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented vegetables.  These are a rich source of probiotics, helping to proliferate the healthy bacteria within the gut.
  • Mucilaginous foods, including okra, oatmeal, chia pudding and soaked buckwheat.  These are soothing to the gut lining and help maintain healthy mucosal production within the digestive system.
  • Kombucha, non-dairy kefir, apple cider vinegar or apple cider elixirs.
  • Gut specific superfoods like those listed below.
  • Prebiotics and resistant starch, including tiger nuts, whole grains and black-eyed peas.  These provide food for the healthy gut bacteria and encourage healthy growth as opposed to proliferation of the bad bacteria.

In addition to consuming gut friendly foods, as listed above, regular exercise and activity and adequate sleep are incredibly important. Focus on reducing your stress, as stress inhibits proper gut function and can further exasperate issues or symptoms. Finally, you can supercharge your gut by consuming herbs like those found in the Afternoon Blendtea we offer through our health hydration system. This blend includes the following ingredients, which all have positive benefits when it comes to gut health and enhancing digestion:

  • Turmeric – Found in the Afternoon Blend the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric are just as great for the digestive tract as they are for other areas of your body. Consume turmeric as a tea or add it to your favourite dishes in cooking.
  • Ginger– Ginger is a root traditionally used to treat indigestion and nausea. It also has anti-inflammatory actions and can soothe painful sensations associated with eating too much or eating too fast. If this happens, sipping on aginger teaafter your meal may be beneficial.
  • Peppermint– One of the Carminative Herbs, peppermint’s impressive role is in helping with gas and bloating. It has relaxant properties which help ease the walls of the intestine during digestion, allowing food to pass through more effectively, and reduce the build up of gas.
  • Cinnamon– Shown to aid in blood sugar regulation, cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree and is the perfect ingredient to have in a tea to help you feel satiated over an extended period of time. The cinnamon helps prevent spikes in insulin and blood sugar, which prevent crashes later that lead you to crave non-gut-friendly sugar!
  • Liquorice Root – This slightly sweet root is great for easing nausea and overall stomach discomfort as caused by poor digestive function or bacterial imbalance.

Ready to get started on improving your gut? Let’s go!