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Gut-Brain Connection

The following is written by Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Kevin Coughlin.  He discusses the importance of gut health, and how to maintain a healthier digestive system.  Feel free to contact him directly if you have any questions or would like to further the discussion!

 

Believe it or not more study has been done on the Gut/Brain connection in the last couple of years than in the previous 100 years.  Scientists and microbiologists are studying the “gut microbiome” and trying to figure out what role it plays in our mental health and our overall health in general.

What is the Microbiome?

‘Gut microbiota’ is the name given to the microbe population living in our intestines.  We have between 10 trillion and 100 trillion microorganisms living in our digestive system.

What is becoming more apparent is gut microbes affect mood, sleep, attention span, energy, immune system function, thyroid function, stress, skin issues, and overall brain and mental health.

A healthy gut is critical for a healthy mind and healthy body.  It was Hippocrates who said, all disease starts in the gut.  If a person is suffering from leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth(SIBO), irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), or any type of auto-immune disease it is all gut related.  The list of auto-immune diseases is a lengthy one, but rest assured it all starts with a compromised digestive system.

We can have too much of less desirable bacteria growing in our intestines.  We can also not have enough variety of bacteria growing in our system because aggressive bacteria have been allowed to take over.  This can happen because of anti-biotic use or poor food choices.  Eating too much sugar or too much processed food can allow bad bacteria to flourish.

Three Tips to help our overall gut health and thus improve our brain, physical, and mental health:

Chew your food!  Do not gulp it down.  Chew!  Solid foods should be able to be ingested through a straw after you are done chewing.  Slow down and chew!

Sit down and relax.  We are always racing around eating in our cars, working while we eat, gulping down meals on the fly.  Take the time to eat properly.  It will change your life.

Eat with mindfulness.  Pay attention to how food tastes.  Slow down and actually observe what you are eating and how it tastes.  It will help you relax and take the burden off the rest of the digestive system when you chew your food in a relaxed state and enjoy what you are eating.

Fixing the Issue

What if you need to clean up your gut?  First, clean up your diet.  Eliminate the added sugars.  Eat whole foods and add more vegetable in to your diet.  Fruit sources should be mostly berries.  Get rid of the processed food.  You don’t necessarily need to eat ‘Organic’ to clean up your diet.  Cost does not need to stand in your way of getting healthy.

Second, a good and simple detox is a great way to start and get the junk or “bad microbes” out of your system.  A detox is a great way to help you feel better fast!  Detoxes do not have to be complicated or exotic.  No water and with lemon and cayenne detoxes.  No starvation detoxes.  Being on a detox can clean up your system in three weeks or less and does not have to be a major sacrifice.

 

Kevin Coughlin

Performance Nutrition

612.644.6465

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