Feeling it In Your Gut
The digestive system, or gut, is a group of organs that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. The gut is responsible for the breakdown and elimination of food and liquids.
When you consume food, “good bacteria” in the gut goes to work to reduce food and liquids into chemical components, using them for nourishment, energy, and cellular repair. Good bacteria does more than just help with digestion. It regulates “bad bacteria”. Like all systems, the digestive system strives to maintain equilibrium and keep bad bacteria in check.
When the Digestive System Goes Haywire
When the system is working well it happens automatically, in the background of our day.
Unfortunately, digestion can get complicated and problematic. For some people the problem stems from inherited genetics. For others, the immune system is confused and attacks the digestive system. But for many, it is what is eaten and how it is eaten that compromises the digestive system, tipping the good/bad bacteria scale in the wrong direction.
A digestive system in disarray sends signals to the body1:
- Weight Loss
If these symptoms are constant, consult a physician.
Improving Gut Digestive Health
Like all systems of the body, the digestive system works on your behalf to maintain equilibrium. To maintain a healthy digestive system, Harvard recommends2:
- Not smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating healthy foods
- Avoiding processed foods
- Reducing fatty foods
- Exercising daily
- Reducing stress
Diet and gut health are closely linked. Eating a nutritious, high-fiber diet complete with cruciferous vegetables, leafy grains, lean protein, low-sugar fruits, grains, beans, and avocado is key to maintaining or improving the health of the gut. 2
Conversely, processed foods that are high in fat and sugar rob the gut of good, protective bacteria and promote the growth of damaging bacteria.3
The gut is another way to assess the health of the entire body. Researchers believe the brain and gut “talk”.4 Studies show that the balance of bacteria in the gut may affect emotions and the way your brain processes information from your senses. Additionally, scientists suspect that changes in the balance of the gut may play a role in depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
In sum, the health and function of the gut impacts the health and function of the entire body.
Know the signs of a digestive system in distress. If symptoms appear, seek medical attention and take proactive steps to heal the gut. In time, the gut will restore equilibrium to the digestive system and the rest of the body.
Information presented by W(h)ealth should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and/or medical professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.