Posted on 03-08-2017
March is Colon Health awareness month. In honor of Colon Health Awareness, I want to talk to you all about your GI system and ways to improve your gut health!
Did you know that the gut is the core of your immune system. Also, scientists call the gut “the second brain” because the GI system has hundreds of millions of neurons--more neurons than the spinal cord has--and produces 95% of the body’s serotonin. That’s why when you are feeling stressed out or anxious, you feel it in your stomach! The gut can affect our mood, mental state, skin, immune system, and overall health, so it is very important that we keep it functioning at its prime.
The biggest indicator of gut health is also one of my favorite subjects to talk about--poop! You can tell a lot about the state your body is in simply by paying attention to the frequency and consistency of your stool.
Below is a chart that shows the different types of stools and what they indicate:
Your stools should come out in a solid, but soft form. If you have to significantly strain to poop, or if you can barely hold it in, you may have some gut issues that we need to address.
Here are my top 4 ways to improve your gut health:
Probiotics, probiotics, probiotics! Your gut is made up of hundreds of types of good bacteria that help your gut function. When you get stressed out, eat unhealthy, or even take antibiotics to fight off an infection, your gut bacteria can become unbalanced and bad bacteria overtake the gut, which leads to a decreased immune system and inflammation. Probiotics reintroduce the good bacteria into your gut and reinstate your GI system to its top-functioning state again.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet that is high in fiber. Fiber speeds up the transit time it takes food to go through your digestive system. This results in decreased absorption of sugar and carbohydrates which lowers blood cholesterol and normalizes blood glucose and insulin levels. It also helps prevent constipation. Foods high in fiber include fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans. *One key note when increasing your fiber intake, make sure you also increase your fluids. If you increase fiber without increasing fluid intake, it can lead to increased constipation.
Decrease your sugar intake! Sugar is one of the most harmful things we put in our body. In addition to its negative effects on cholesterol, inflammation, blood glucose, etc., it also feeds the bad bacteria in your gut, which leads to gut dysregulation and therefore a myriad of problems ensue.
Exercise! Aside from the excellent benefits that exercise provides for cardiovascular and mental health, studies have shown that exercise plays a positive role on the diversity and number of good bacteria in your gut. It promotes the growth and health of the good bacteria in the gut and prevents the bad bacteria from overgrowth.
If you experience any GI irregularities, or have any questions, come into the office so we can further evaluate what is going on and work to fix it!
Happy Colon Health Awareness Month!
- Dr. D
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