6 Secrets Your Gut Troubles Are Trying to Tell You
By Karen Azeez
Do you sometimes wish you had two brains? Well, in a way, you do!
Your gut actually has its own nervous system (the enteric system) that is in charge of digestion – moreover, it’s linked with your central nervous system via the vagus nerve at the base of the brain. When you’re afraid, anxious or tense, your brain sends messages to your gut that can affect and cause constipation, cramping, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms. It’s also home to 70-80% of your immune system!
But these messages go both ways – a healthy gut helps regulate serotonin and keep you more relaxed and happy (95% of your serotonin actually resides in your gut!). Millions of bacteria teaming in the gut – collectively known as the microbiome – can affect not only your digestive system, but can influence neural development, emotional behavior and pain perception.
That means when you say that you have a bad feeling in your gut, listen up! Your “second brain” may actually be telling you something you need to hear.
So how do you keep your gut – and your entire body – balanced, happy and moving along? If your gut could really talk to you, it would tell you these 6 simple “secrets”…
1. Feed It Well – Fresh food with lots of fiber – such as nuts, beans, leafy greens and whole grains – moves waste out quickly and feeds the healthy bacteria that strengthens your immune system.
2. Keep It Hydrated – Aim for at least 70 ounces (or half your bodyweight in ounces daily) of clean, filtered water, fresh homemade juices or herbal teas to properly digest solid food and distribute nutrients efficiently. When our bodies are able to absorb nutrients properly, our digestion and overall health is enhanced. And you need liquid to move all the healthy fiber through your system, which flushes out the toxins, etc.
3. Move It – Aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your breathing and heart rate) stimulates the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, helping to move food through your intestines more rhythmically, which helps you avoid constipation and other digestive issues. Exercise also helps prevent weight gain that can lead to acid reflux and other digestive issues.
4. Cut Down on Sugar – Too many sweets feed the yeast that causes excess Candida, a fungal overgrowth in the lower intestine that leads to brain fog, skin, vaginal and chronic intestinal problems. Those suffering from chronic Candida need to eliminate all sugar from their diet for a period of time in order to completely treat the condition.
5. Repair It – Heal an imbalanced gut by increasing the population of “good bacteria.” Prebiotics from fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha and probiotics in the form of supplements (aim for ones that offer at least 10-25 billion live bacteria) can create a happy, healthy balance and ward off a host of digestive ills, including diarrhea, constipation and diverticulitis, while strengthening your immune system. This is especially important after a course of antibiotics.
6. Just Breathe – Practicing meditation, breathing and other relaxation techniques can also quiet those negative gut messages in times of stress. So, even if you’re far away from the nearest restroom, you can always gently place your hand on your belly, breathe deeply and try to quiet your mind to banish unwelcome cramping.
The digestive system is really the cornerstone of our well-being, as it is involved in so many processes. When your digestive system is in order, you feel great – both in body and mind. You’ll feel like you can tackle the world.
So, if you suffer from chronic digestive issues, try changing your diet, increasing your exercise and adding probiotics then see what happens. And, most importantly, don’t forget to always listen to your “second brain.”
Health Coach, Wellness Expert and Freelance Writer
at Well Beings
Karen Azeez is a health coach, wellness expert and freelance writer. Karen helps busy men and women incorporate simple lifestyle changes into their daily routine to address issues such as weight gain, insomnia, stress and digestion problems. Karen enjoys cooking healthy meals, hiking with her husband and border collie and watching way too many TV shows about wedding dress shopping.
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