Updated: Jul 13
Have you ever heard the saying “health begins in the gut?”
There is a lot of truth to this statement. This is because gut health impacts almost every other part of your health. The body systems with which medical research has associated with gastrointestinal health includes but is not limited to:
Neurological & Mental Health
Immune Health & Autoimmunity
Integumentary (Hair, Skin, Nails) Health
There are few reasons for this.
Your gastrointestinal system is basically a network of tubes extending from your mouth to your anus. In total, the length of these tubes is approximately 10 yards. In order to fit inside your body, these tubes are bent and coiled in an organized fashion. However, the length of your digestive tract (aka GI tract) makes it one of the largest sources of exposure to the outside world in your body. This means, it has a high degree of exposure to toxins.
Your gut is armed to deal with this insult in the form of your immune system. Fifty to seventy percent of the immune system is located in your gut. The good thing about this is the immune system actively monitors the contents of your gut to mount an immune response when necessary. The tricky thing about this is that there is only one, thin layer of tissue between the inside of your GI tract and your immune structures. This tissue is easily damaged by stress, unhealthy foods, and medications like over the counter pain killers and antibiotics. Once the tissue is damage, the barrier between the outside world and the immune system becomes compromised. Things that should not have access to the immune system, can now create immune activation that spreads to the rest of your body.
One of the ways that your gut regulates your immune system is through your gastrointestinal microbiome. This is the population of good, bad, and neutral bacteria that lives in your gut and helps educate your immune system. The microbiome can also be damaged by the same factors that damage the intestinal tissue. When the microbiome is damaged, you can get overgrowth of bad bacteria, death of good bacteria, and decreased microbial diversity (known as dysbiosis). Dysbiosis can also be more severe when the intestinal tissue is damaged because the destruction of tight barriers between individual cells of that tissue creates greater surface area for bad bacteria to grow on. Dysbiosis not only increases problems with gut health and immune activation, it can also create problems in the 6 health systems described earlier as related to gut health.
Not only is your gut intimately connected to your immune health, it is also directly connected to your neurological and mental health. Here’s how:
Seventy-five percent of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that allow your nervous system to communicate) are made in your gut. For some neurotransmitters, an even greater percent is manufactured in the gut. Disruptions in gut health can impact levels or neurotransmitters and manifest in ways like anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
The majority of your gastrointestinal organs are regulated by a nerve called the Vagus nerve, which is activated when you are in a rest and digest state. This means that, if you have chronic stress, unresolved trauma, or anything keeping you in fight or flight, you are susceptible to decreased gastrointestinal functioning.
Your gut has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system, which can control gastrointestinal functioning independent of your dental nervous system. The enteric nervous system does communicate with the central nervous system, sending it information, and receiving information from it through the Vagus nerve. The enteric nervous system helps regulate digestion and movement of digestive juices through intestines. It can be damaged when gut tissue is damaged, leading to decreases in gastrointestinal function.
The gut communicates heavily with the nervous system. The gut actually sends more information to the brain than the brain does to the gut! That means the gut has a role in educating your brain.
Want to get started healing your gut? Here are my top tips:
Remove things that damage your gut from your lifestyle. Reduce stress, eliminate junk food and work with your doctor to use natural approaches to healing instead of over the counter or prescription medications.
Add in things that help heal your gut: this includes eating a diverse array of vegetables, plenty of natural fiber, and probiotic foods. There are also a variety of natural products that help you heal your gut.
Test your gut to find out exactly what is going on.
Check out my GutOnTrack starter protocol:
Monpure: high quality, high potency fish oil to reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and immune activation. Not suitable for those on blood thinning medications.
GI Protect: glutamine to help repair the gastrointestinal lining and Ig26 to help reduce immune activation. Not suitable for those with anaphylactic egg allergies.
Enterovite: helps increase diversity of the gut microbiome.
For more a picture of what is going on in your specific gut:
Order the Vibrant America Gut Zoomer Test: this test looks for dysbiosis, SIBO, Yeast including Candida, Viruses, Protozoans, Short Chain Fatty Acid Status, Occult Blood, and markers of digestion, inflammation, bile production, food sensitivities, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and estrogen metabolism
Add To Aid Digestion:
Panplex-2-phase: contains enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile to aid all phases of digestion.
Add if Constipated:
Colon-X: helps increase gastrointestinal motility and draws water into the colon to make stool easier to pass.
Please consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen. Supplements listed may interact with medications or may not be suitable for your unique set of health conditions.
For more education on gut health, check out these social media resources:
(with functional medicine guru Dr. Pedi Mirdamadi, NMD, MSc, RHN)
Everything You Need to Know to Start Healing Your Gut:
How the Gut is Your Second Brain With Dr. Pedi Mirdamadi
Basics of Healing Your Gut:
Gut & Mental Health:
Gut & The Immune System:
Instagram posts about healing your gut: