It’s Friday night and you’ve just finished a delicious slice of pizza… but it’s not finished with you. Soon after, the bloat kicks in. Your gut is considering revoking your “Treat Yourself” rights. Rest assured you’re not alone. In fact, over 70 million people in the U.S struggle with some sort of digestive illness, and it all has to do with the gut.
What Does the Gut Do?
You probably already know it helps digest food. When it can do its job properly, the gut digests food without making you feel like an overinflated beach ball. However, it also plays a key role in several other important body processes like:
- Breaking down food into digestible bits.
- Absorbing nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fats).
- Absorbing water to keep you hydrated.
- Getting rid of waste and toxins.
- Serving as an immunity “gate” that keeps out bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other nasties.
- Helps your immune system distinguish between things in your body that are helpful or dangerous.
- Receives signals from the brain, through the nervous system, and sends signals back.
The gut plays a role in maintaining overall optimal health. This is why maintaining a happy gut is key to living in holistic wellness.
How Does Your Gut Do It All?
The gut has several different roles in the body, all critical to keeping proper function. How does it do all this though? In short – germs. Lots and lots of germs…
You’re seriously germy, and that’s a good thing! Humans are made up of mostly microbes, which are millions of bacteria, fungus, and yeast. Sounds a little icky, but these microorganisms are critical in keeping your body balanced, healthy, and operating at optimal levels.
“How do my tummy germs affect my whole body?!” you may ask. The thing is – the gut and all of its duties are not isolated. It connects to several other parts of your body, aiding in organ functions and regulating their processes. Things that happen in your gut can directly impact:
- Development of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. These diseases essentially occur when the body mistakes itself for harmful agents and attacks itself in response.
- Bone health and osteoporosis.
- Metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
- Heart disease.
- Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Let’s break down how an unhealthy gut can lead to each of these.
Gut Health and Autoimmune Disease
There are trillions of microbes (bacteria, fungus, protozoa, and other small things) living in your body. Their home is called the microbiome, and most of it is located in your gut. These microbes help you digest food, regulate the immune systems, keep out disease-causing bacteria, and even produce some vitamins like B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Research shows that some autoimmune diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia are related to having an unhealthy microbiome. When your microbiome is unbalanced, there are more harmful bacteria than helpful bacteria. The good bacteria aren’t able to defend the body properly, and disease-causing bacteria build up over time. Eventually, this can cause changes in gene activity and metabolic processes. That change triggers abnormal immune responses. Your body starts attacking itself because it can no longer distinguish between healthy and harmful substances or tissue.
Of course, research states there is a possible genetic factor involved in the likeness of developing an autoimmune disease. However, science also shows that the diet, not just DNA, passed on from generation to generation can have an impact. Your diet significantly impacts the health of your gut and its microbiome. If poor nutrition habits have been passed down, it could increase how likely you are to develop an autoimmune disease.
Gut Health and Bone Density/ Osteoporosis
Research has shown that the gut microbiome is closely associated with bone metabolism and the absorption of bone-related minerals. It’s also involved in the process of developing Osteoporosis.
Many people don’t realize that bones are supported with nutrition through life: from formation to degeneration. This is why maintaining good nutrition and a balanced gut are key to maintaining overall bone health.
For example, one of the things that your gut does to keep bones strong and healthy is manage the absorption of calcium. You probably grew up being told that drinking milk gives you strong bones. That’s a little too simple, but calcium is essential in improving and maintaining healthy bones. It’s a critical nutrient that plays a part in proper bone formation and the prevention of bone degeneration.
Gut Health, Diabetes, and Obesity
Remember when we mentioned that the bacteria in your gut affects overall health? Well, the bacteria found in the gut of those considered obese is different from the ones found in healthy individuals. Science shows the bacteria found in those suffering from obesity could be associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.
The reason for this difference in bacteria is that those with obesity tend to have more permeable intestinal barriers. It means more stuff can pass into their intestines – like having a faulty filter. Often, this extra material passing into the intestines is toxic. The harmful bacteria build up in the gut and prevent insulin from regulating glucose levels.
So, those who suffer from obesity have an unbalanced microbial system. This faulty system directly affects the effectiveness of insulin in the gut, which means blood glucose is not properly regulated. Over time, this could lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Thankfully, nutrition can have a double positive effect in preventing these illnesses. On the one hand, a healthy diet helps manage your weight and avoids the health risks of obesity. On the other, powerful nutrition will help your gut heal and stay healthy, so that it can properly do its job. The end result is a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Gut Health and Heart Disease
As mentioned above, your gut microbiome plays a role in the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Having either of those conditions increases your risk of heart disease as well. Your gut can also affect the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and cause increased blood pressure. If your gut is unhealthy, it can lead to an unhealthy heart.
Also, your gut directly affects the arteries in your heart. Poor gut health can increase the likelihood of getting a blood clot, which cuts off blood flow and causes part of the heart muscle to die. This is the most common reason for heart diseases. Therefore, if you want to maintain a healthy heart, nourishing and protecting your gut is a great place to start.
Gut Health and Mental Health
Your brain and gut are connected. It might sound a little crazy, but it’s true. Research has shown there is a relation between the health of your gut and experiencing emotional distresses like anxiety or depression.
Though there isn’t a single bacterium in your microbiome that results in higher risk of developing anxiety or depression, those who do suffer from these mental illnesses show a general lack of microbe diversity in their gut. There’s not a lot of variety in the kinds of bacteria living in their intestines.
Another issue with having an unhealthy gut, is that it’s more likely to result in a “leaky gut”. Essentially this means your intestinal barrier is letting things in that it shouldn’t. This causes a pro-inflammatory response in the body that can leave you feeling low and tired.
This response is meant to conserve energy during physical illness, but if it goes on for too long, it could lead to depression.
The gut even helps to digest and metabolize the components that make up serotonin and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters are essential in regulating your emotions. If your gut is not able to properly process the components that make them, your mental health could suffer, possibly resulting in anxiety and/or depression.
FK and Gut Health
It’s not all doom and gloom though! Now that you know the significant impact your gut health has on overall wellness; you’re probably wondering what we can do to help.
Fortunately, our whole system is based on improving gut health!
All FK meal plans are designed to remove toxins and triggers from the body that lead to an unhealthy gut. This includes removing toxic oils and inflammatory foods like gluten. However, our meal plans are also designed to help improve your gut health. We do this by introducing foods that heal your gut and rebalance the microbiome. The result is a healthier gut. As you’ve learned – that means improvement in your overall health and wellness!
If you’re interested in a customizable meal plan that will help you transform your nutrition, restore your gut health, and improve your overall wellness, check out our FK ONLINE MEAL PLANS.
We offer three plans:
The best part is we tailor the Online Meal Plans to meet your specific needs and goals.
Don’t live with the bloat, gas, and painful mutiny of treating yourself every once in a while. Change your nutrition, optimize your health, and start living in true wellness.
Do you have the guts to change your life?
NOTE: Fran’s Kitchen offers two different meal plan services. Our Delivery Meal Plans are delivered to customers on an agreed upon schedule. Our ONLINE MEAL PLANS are NOT delivered. These online meal plans are sent to customers via email to be cooked, followed, and enjoyed from the comfort of their own kitchens! Please be mindful of these differences when registering for Fran’s Kitchen services. Thank you!