Why Is Your Gut Health So Important?
The health of your gut is the underlying foundation to the health of your entire body. Did you know that the tiny bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that make up your body’s microbiome, outnumber your body’s cells 10-1!? That means you’re made up of more tiny bugs than cells! Woah, crazy, right!?! Research has been showing that the health of your microbiome is playing a major role in your overall health, both physically and mentally. Here are just a few examples of the way your gut health affects your overall health.
Mood Disorders, Depression, & Anxiety
Have you ever had that “gut feeling”? Well, it’s true, scientists have discovered that you have a “second brain” in your gut. It’s called the Enteric Nervous System, or ENS for short. Your ENS is made of more than 100 million nerves cells, lining your entire digestive tract from your esophagus to your rectum. The ENS communicates with your brain, through the spinal cord, in vast ways. We now know that the ENS produces over 90% of your peripheral serotonin, which is a chemical neurotransmitter that controls your mood and depression levels. These findings are proving a direct link to your gut health, and mood disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and anxiety.
Memory Enhancement & Focus
With all of this communication going on between your gut and your brain, researchers are finding that the health of your gut also has a direct correlation to cognitive function; having effects on memory, Alzheimer's, dementia, attention, and focus. Through my own experiences in life, I have noticed a clear relationship with my ability to focus, and my memory retention, with the foods that I am putting in (or not putting in) my body. How about you? Have you noticed any effects on your mood and brain function when you’re eating well for your body?
“All disease begins in the gut”~ Hippocrates. This guy was onto something, and he knew this over 2,350 years ago! Scientists have discovered that there are more immune cells inside of your gut than the rest of your entire body! That’s bonkers, right?! It also means that the health of your gut plays an enormous role in the health of your immune system, affecting illnesses, your recovery times, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.
Weight Loss & Diabetes
It’s common knowledge for most of us, that how you eat has a major impact on your weight gain, or loss. But did you know that it’s not just about counting calories, and eliminating fats? In actuality, the right fats can help you maintain a healthy weight. It’s also all about that "good bug"/"bad bug" scene in your microbiome. Evidence shows that the bugs in your microbiome alter the way you store fat, how you balance levels of glucose in the blood, and how you respond to hormones that make you feel hungry or full. It seems that the wrong mix of microbes (the "good bug/"bad bug" scene) can help set the stage for obesity and diabetes from the moment of birth.
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? Sometimes it’s hard to realize that, as it just hangs out on the outside, doing it’s thing. One of the major roles of your skin is to eliminate toxins and waste from your body. It does this through sweating, and also through all of those funky and embarrassing skin rashes that come up. So, when your skin is acting up, whether it be acne, eczema, psoriasis, or that magical mystery rash, it’s time to look to the gut, and your microbiome for potential answers.
So, after looking through this condensed list, hopefully you’re recognizing the importance of your gut health. I know I’m more excited to keep my microbiome happy, healthy, and balanced!
I’ll be writing more next week on steps that you can take to get your microbiome in balance, and your gut happy. In the meantime, if you’re ready to get your gut health back into shape, I think you’ll enjoy having our Diges-Teas herbal blend on hand.
I know I promised to share some gut lovin' recipes with you throughout this series. Today it's super cold in Oregon, and we're having ice storms, so I wanted to share this warming Golden Milk recipe with you. Until next time, and forever more, “Let Food Be Thy Medicine, & Medicine Be Thy Food!”~Hippocrates (I’m tellin’ ya, the guy was a super genius!)
Gut Lovin', Inflammation Fighting, Taste Bud Happy-fying..
- 1 cup coconut milk (preferably homemade, try this recipe from Wellness Mama)
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 1 chunk of fresh turmeric, about 1 inch, or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
- 1 chunk of ginger, unpeeled & thinly sliced
- 1 TBL honey
- 1 TBL virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- Dash of ground cinnamon as a garnish
- With a mortar and pestle, crush your peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods.
- Put your milk in a small saucepan, and simmer on low with all of the ingredients, minus the honey, for 5-10 minutes.
- Strain the concoction into a clean mug. Add your honey to taste, or not.
Drink up Buttercup! This stuff is sooo good, and so good for you!
Looking for more help with your digestive health?
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*Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
**I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine.
***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.
About the Author: Melissa Mutterspaugh
Melissa lives in Oregon, in the foothills of Mount Hood. She's a clinical herbalist, environmental educator, mother, wilderness therapist, lover, nemophilist, music loving maniac, and the founder of Mountain Mel's Essential Goods. She is passionate about inspiring others to take better care of our planet, through taking better care of themselves, naturally!