Chances are people have been telling you for years to "listen to your heart.” It’s a soulful sentiment. But what about your gut? You may also have been told or have encouraged others to "trust your gut”, notably less poetic than anything having to do with the heart. How often do we actually trust our guts, or nurture our innards or even think before we eat, or react?
So many catch phrases refer to the guts. Guts and glory! They got me right in the gut! I felt gutted! Gut instinct. To spill one's guts. Gut response. Gut feeling. Blood and guts. The list goes on. When one utters the word "guts" it's a visceral thing. Yet despite the weight of the topic, gut health often gets tragically overlooked when it comes to our well being.
There has been significant research to suggest that our overall sense of well being has a lot to do with the health of our guts. Let's break it down a bit. (That’s what is supposed to happen in our tummies after all). We have tons of bacteria in our system, both good and bad. This is actually a positive thing. We need both for balance. Bacteria make up our Microbiome. "Our Micro-what?”, you might be saying. Microbiome is the new black! Well, that may be a bit of a stretch, but it is certainly one of the new medical buzzwords, and for good reason. Microbiome basically refers to the complex eco system inside your gut. It's a magical thing. But can turn into a tragical thing if you do not pay mind to what's happening.
For the most part, you are the custodian of your microbiome. How's that for poetry? It is up to you to eat the foods that make you feel good, and eliminate the ones that make you feel lousy. Here's where "trusting your gut" comes in. If you are eating gluten and feeling lethargic and bloated and awful, your gut may not be appreciative of that gluten. In fact, it might be pleading with you to lay off the stuff. There are many foods that are quite inflammatory like vegetable oils, refined carbs, added sugars, trans fat etc..
I'll distill this. Sugar, white flour, fried foods, highly processed foods, dairy, alcohol and too many refined carbs can actually be making your sick. These foods could very well be affecting your complexion, your composure, your sleep, and just about everything else. It's serious business.
On the other hand there are amazing edibles that can contribute to a greater sense of well being all starting in your gut. Veggies, fruits (especially berries and citrus) sea vegetables, green tea, turmeric, ginger, probiotics, fish oil, coconut oil, legumes, and fermented foods. The list goes on. There are so many ways to improve gut health where food and supplements are concerned.
If you knew that poor gut health could contribute to some of the worst health issues, wouldn’t you take your gut more seriously? Of course your would. Today is great time to start.
But, there's another very weighty component here. That's the philosophical, metaphorical and often intangible sense of your gut. What does it actually mean to trust your gut? Well, as a heath coach, a mom, singer, and citizen of this great planet, I believe a lot of it has to do with intuition. And, it is my deep feeling that every time we kick our own intuition to the curb we are contributing to our own dysbiosis. Dysbiosis typically occurs when bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines) become unbalanced. Doesn't sound like a good look, does it? Each time we allow things to tear us up inside, and twist up our insides, that may be precisely what's going on within our bodies.
Breathing is another talking point. Many of us are merely breathing for survival but not ever really filling our bodies with the oxygen it needs to maintain a true sense of health and calm. Diaphragmatic breathing can make all the difference.
The wikipedian definition of Diaphragmatic breathing:
Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing, is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity. Air enters the lungs and the chest rises and the belly expands during this type of breathing.
Here's where yoga, mediation, hiking, biking and taking more time to breathe comes in. Aside from the fact that it can calm your nerves, fill you with positive energy and make you feel more alive. It can also be very good for your digestion and help your system to perform its greatest miracles.
There are so many wonderful recipes and books about gut health. You might want to add some of them to your summer reading list. It's no 50 shades of anything, Murakami gem, or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But it could be a complete game changer for you and yours.
So, the moral of all this is to give you healthy food for thought and to encourage you to steer clear of chemicals, toxins, and evil ingestibles. Watch out for GMO's, and pesticides. If you choose to eat animal protein, go with grass fed and antibiotic free. Look for organic produce (free of harmful pesticides). Exercise, so your body can process what you put in. Breathe. Get enough sleep so your body can do its job. And don't hoard negative energy that can only burden your gut. Let go of anger. Use optimum gut health as an excuse to cast out people who bring you down. Use your intuition. It will serve your well. It will tell you what it likes and what it loathes. It's that smart! Rock on with your beautiful body and nurture it as if your head, your heart, your soul and your gut depend on it. It. They truly do!