Gut Health: The Secret to an Effective Diet

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Have you been dieting away with your chicken and spinach, sticking religiously to your meal plan of healthy foods, but still feeling like you just aren’t seeing the results you should?

Now, it’s hard to know because every person sees progress at different rates – but there’s a pretty good chance that your stalled or slowed progress is because of your gut.

Yep, you read right- your gut, digestive track, stomach, innards – it’s a HUGE player in weight loss. And it’s much more powerful than you probably ever imagined. 

 

YOUR SECOND BRAIN

That’s what they call your gut.

Because as crazy as it sounds, your gut is uber powerful in controlling so many things – including how well your diet works!

Check this out:

Your gut holds hundreds of millions of nerves that send communication signals up to your brain (and yes, researchers think it starts in the gut and goes up to the brain, not always the other way around).

Your gut is even responsible for the production of some of your major hormones. About 90% of your serotonin, the happiness hormone, comes from your gut.

So happy gut – happy life, right?

But here’s the part we care about the most for our weight and fat loss: the gut bacteria.

Your gut holds over 100 trillion bacteria!  That’s a number so large it’s too hard to even imagine. But those trillions of bacteria make up about 4-8 pounds of little buggers deciding what nutrients are actually going to be allowed into your body. 

And that means they decide how well that diet you are following actually works. 

 

THE GUT

Think about this weird concept –

Your gut could be considered outside of your body. It’s just a hollow tube that leads from one opening in your head to the err… other end.   You might put healthy foods in, but there’s a chance they just pass right along through.

The bacteria in the gut decides what nutrients actually get to pass through the gut walls and enter into the bloodstream to be used by body and what materials go right on through to be excreted. 

It’s not about what you eat, it’s about what you absorb and use. 

So how does the gut decide what to let in and what gets sent right on through?

Out of those trillions of bacteria in there – some are good guys working to keep you healthy, but some are bad and working to fill you with toxins. And these arch nemeses are always battling for control.

When the white knight, hero bacteria are in control, they know we need lots of vitamins and minerals so they help the nutrients bind with certain hormones or vitamins to pass through the walls of the gut lining easier.  That means they get used by the body to do great and remarkable things. Super. That means that kale salad you suffered through eating actually is helping you.

Those good bacteria also stop the toxins from getting in.  The junk foods we eat that are filled with crap don’t have many nutrients.  So those good bacteria recognize it and send all those food particles on their merry way – not letting any of that junk get into the body. The good guys keep our gut walls strong so even if the toxins try to fight their way through, they can’t get in.

Awesome, victory for the good bacteria! 

But the good bacteria don’t always have control.  And actually, our bacteria ratio in our gut is always changing.  Our diet, our environment, even our sleep and stress can change whether the good or bad bacteria are in control.

And when the good bacteria become too weak or outnumbered by the bad bacteria, we’re in for some real problems. 

 

THE PROBLEMS

The bad bacteria in our gut are like annoying toddlers. The scream for junk food and they grow stronger with every sugar particle you eat (and the more powerful they get, the more control they take). And when they start to reign, we start to get inflammation.

And as mild as that sounds, inflammation in your gut can be a serious problem. 

The digestive tract is made up of millions of cells that are all packed together.  That’s what keeps the toxic crap out of the body.  

But when they start to get inflamed, all of the junctions between the cells get a little bit looser and we start getting gaps and hopes. Those holes that form then let chemicals and toxins (from the candy and fast food we love) pass through the gut lining and go right into our bloodstream. This is what we’d call a leaky gut.

Now it doesn’t sound too terrible, but those toxins floating around your body can do serious damage. Most will start wreaking havoc on your brain and liver but sometimes it can lead to more serious issues, causing things like:

  • Allergies
  • Chronic illnesses or fevers
  • Joint Pain
  • Depression, anxiety, or brain fog
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • Skin conditions
  • Or even autoimmune diseases 

Big problems form those deliciously tasting treats.  And who knew your gut could be the culprit?

 

SO HOW DO WE FIX IT?

Stick with these remedies to keep your second brain helping your diet plan rather than hurting it:

1. Remove the toxins from your diet.  Avoiding grains, sugars and alcohols will help, but it’s also important to read the ingredient lists and eliminate added chemicals, preservatives or other food additives.

2. Avoiding unnecessary medications.  Antibiotics, birth controls and even long term OTC medications can cause holes in your gut lining and make a leaky gut worse. 

3. Eat plenty of fermented foods or take a daily probiotic to boost the number of good bacteria fighting for you.

4. Slow down when you eat and make sure you chew your food enough. This helps break down the nutrients to make them easier to absorb through the gut walls.

5. Balance your Omega 3s and 6s to keep inflammation low.  This helps keep the gut lining strong to block out chemicals and toxins. 

6. Reduce your stress – easier said than done, I know.  The stress hormones in our gut can have a harmful effect on the bacteria growing.

7. Aim to get better quality sleep.  When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to eat foods leading to inflammation and throw your gut hormones out of whack. 

8. Eat plenty of fiber.  The good bacteria feeds off fiber so make sure you eat plenty of leafy greens to help the good buggers grow strong.

If you start tackling these – you’ll be right back into the happy gut, happy life mode.  And you’ll probably be surprised how much more effective that diet plan really is. 

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