We all have smile lines around our mouths – well I am hoping everyone does! If not – you need to get smiling! But it is when these smile lines are dark looking, or the skin has lost a lot of elasticity so around your mouth seems to sage, or you have chronic breakouts in this area, eczema, around the mouth and on other areas of the face, then you know something is just not right with your intestinal system, otherwise known as the gut.
First let me explain how your intestinal system works. Firstly you have the small intestine, which feeds into the large intestine. The small intestine is a narrow tube and is about 6 metres long. Here the major food groups, protein, fats and carbohydrates are broken down into amino acids, sugars and fatty acids, which are then absorbed into the blood stream. It can take between 2- 6 hours for a meal to be processed in the small intestine.
Once the food is processed in the small intestine, it goes through to the colon otherwise known as the large intestine, which salvages unabsorbed material from the small intestine. This can take 12-48 hours. It extracts salt and water from the solidifying contents, while the trillions of colonic bacteria ferment unabsorbed sugars, starches and proteins and turn them into short chain fatty acids, which are utilised as a source of energy. That which is not needed is removed from the body as faeces.
Besides skin issues, what are the other symptoms your intestinal system (or gut) will show that it is not in great health?
So many people today have digestive issues such as reflux or heartburn, irritable bowel, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, or colitis. In fact, digestive problems account for over 200 million doctor’s visits and billions in health care costs annually. But gut problems cause disease far beyond the gut. When things are not quite right down below, it affects the health of our entire body. Many diseases are linked to imbalances in the digestive system.
Normalizing gut function is one of the most important things you need to do for complete health, and it’s so simple. The “side effects” of treating the gut are quite extraordinary. You will find relief from allergies, food intolerances, acne, arthritis, headaches, migraines, autoimmune disease, depression attention deficit, foggy brain, those ‘dementia moments’
There is so much research going on today linking gut issues with chronic illnesses. Scientists compared gut flora or bacteria from children in Florence, Italy who ate a diet high in meat, fat, and sugar to children from a West African village in Burkina Faso who ate beans, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts. The bugs in the guts of the African children were healthier, more diverse, better at regulating inflammation and infection, and better at extracting energy from fibre. The bugs in the guts of the Italian children produced by-products that created inflammation, promoted allergies, asthma, autoimmunity, and leads to obesity.
In the West, our increased use of vaccinations, and antibiotics and, enhancements in hygiene, have lead to health improvements for many. Yet these same factors have dramatically changed the ecosystem of bugs in our gut, and this has a broad impact on health that is still largely unrecognized.
There are trillions of bacteria in your gut, and they collectively contain at least 100 times as many genes as you do. The bacterial DNA in your gut outnumbers your own DNA by a very large margin. This bacterial DNA controls immune function, regulates digestion and intestinal function, protects against infections, and even produces vitamins and nutrients.
Can bacteria in the gut actually affect the brain? They can. Toxins, metabolic by-products, and inflammatory molecules produced by these unfriendly bacteria can all adversely impact the brain.
When the balance of bacteria in your gut is optimal, this DNA works for you to great effect. For example, some good bacteria produce short chain fatty acids. These healthy fats reduce inflammation and modulate your immune system. Bad bugs, on the other hand, produce fats that promote allergy and asthma, eczema, and inflammation throughout your body.
Another recent study found that the bacterial fingerprint of gut flora of autistic children differs dramatically from healthy children. Simply by looking at the by-products of their intestinal bacteria, researchers could distinguish between autistic and normal children.
Think about this: problems with gut flora are linked to autism. Can bacteria in the gut actually affect the brain? They can. Toxins, metabolic by-products, and inflammatory molecules produced by these unfriendly bacteria can all adversely impact the brain.
Autoimmune diseases are also linked to changes in gut flora. A recent study showed that young people who use antibiotics for acne may alter normal flora, and this, in turn, can trigger changes that lead to autoimmune disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or colitis.
Even obesity has been linked to changes in our gut ecosystem that are the result of a high-fat, processed, inflammatory diet. Bad bugs produce toxins called lipopolysaccardies (LPS) that trigger inflammation and insulin resistance or pre-diabetes and thus promote weight gain.
It seems remarkable, but the little critters living inside of you have been linked to everything from autism to obesity, from allergy to autoimmunity, from fibromyalgia to restless leg syndrome, from delirium to eczema to asthma. In fact, the links between chronic illness and gut bacteria keep growing every day.
So what can you do to keep your gut flora balanced and your gut healthy, and thus overcome or avoid these health problems?
Five Steps to a Healthy Gut (and a Healthy Body)
Follow these five simple steps to begin re-balancing your gut flora:
- Eat a fibre –rich, whole food diet—it should be rich in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, all of which feed good bugs. I recommend also making up a green blend mixture of Spiriulina, Chlorella, Kale, Broccoli, Wheatgrass and Barley grass every morning. You can make up a fresh blend of this using organic vegetables, or cheat and buy a organic already prepared blend such as Vital Just Greens. This will not only support you nutritionally, but will also create a healthy environment for healthy bacteria to grow. Take unprocessed organic apple cider vinegar once to twice daily – all you need is a teaspoon or two. It must still contain the ‘mother’ for it to be effective. Apple cider vinegar is ultra rich in enzymes, pectin, nutrients, B vitamins, folic acid, and potassium. It promotes digestion by creating a healthy alkaline state for the digestion and intestinal bacteria. It supports bowel regularity and therefore removes all toxins from the body and is rich in malic acid which kills harmful bacteria in the gut.
- Keep sugar, processed foods, animal fats, and animal protein to a minimum—these provide food for unhealthy bugs.
- Avoid the use of antibiotics, acid blockers, and anti-inflammatories—they change gut flora for the worse.
- Take probiotics daily—these healthy, friendly flora can improve your digestive health and reduce inflammation and allergies. I recommend Caruso’s Nourishing Flora, it is a potent and affordable probiotic. Drink Kobucha Tea regularly, it is much better than eating yogurt for probiotics. Do not eat yoghurt with sugar for its probiotic value, as the sugar is counteractive to the probiotics.
And if you have a chronic illness, even if you don’t have digestive symptoms, you might want to consider what is living inside your gut. Tending to this area of your body could be the answer to many seemingly unrelated health problems.
With thanks to Dr Mark Hyman for the above information.