Improving your gut health is important for better absorption of the nutrients in the food you eat. Absorbing your nutrients will provide you with energy to get through your day. So if you are suffering from fatigue, this is a clue that you may have an imbalance in your gut.
I knew that this was true for me especially when I would eat foods I could not digest well and felt very lethargic and experienced brain fog a few hours later.
Your gut is also known as your digestive system and includes the ecosystem of microbes that must exist in balance in order to digest and absorb nutrients in your small and large intestine, as well as detox out of your body substances that will only cause you to feel unwell. The health of your gut influences the health of your entire body.
Your fatigue issues can tell you a lot about the health of your gut.
A Greek physician also referred to as the Father of Medicine was named Hippocrates who said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
Recent research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role to pay in many diseases than we used to think. These would include but not limited to allergies, pain and inflammation, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is open to the outside world and acts as a barrier to toxins. It is here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients through our gut.
The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain called the gut-brain connection. Have you also heard of "the adrenal-gut connection"? This is regulated by the HPA axis which is the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis.
The adrenals which sit on top of your kidneys are very connected to the health of your gut. When you are stressed the hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland to tell the adrenals to produce cortisol. Cortisol that is pumping constantly will give you energy but will also interfere with the balance of your gut bacteria which consists of both good and bad bacteria that must exist in a balanced ecosystem in your gut for optimal health and increased energy.
So being constantly stressed is not good for the health of your gut. Also getting enough sleep and exercise will help to reduce the cortisol levels and therefore may help to bring your gut back into balance.
Let's talk about the roles that your gut and gut microbes play in your overall health. Then I'll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.
The Gut - Health Connection
Your gut’s first pillar of health is its main role as a barrier. Your gut is a long tube with a job to let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out of our body.
The role of your gut is super-complex and can break down in so many places.
For one thing, your gut can "leak." That means the lining of your intestines can open and allow undigested food particles, bacteria and toxins to enter our bloodstream. This can wreak havoc on your whole system causing you to feel unwell and and have a variety of symptoms in including fatigue.
The result of this irritation causes inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases. Inflammation is a cause of many fatigue issues. It has been at the root of a lot my own fatigue issues even though I did not know it at the time.
Now do you see how your fatigue issues can be linked back to the health of your gut?
FUN FACT: About 70% of your immune system lives in and around your gut.
Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.
The second pillar of gut health is its role of producing and maintaining the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make B vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.
So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!
How to improve gut health
There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving ourselves junk food. You can start with eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.
You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains are common gut irritants. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your energy levels.
By eating nutrient-dense foods, you allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into your gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help your body to build and repair your gut lining, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.
The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, you can help to replenish your gut microbes.
These are found in fermented foods like:
- sauerkraut, and
Make these a part of your daily diet. If you do have food sensitivities you can try fermented foods such as dairy in the form of Kefir or bread in the form of sourdough.
Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Fiber helps us to:
- eliminate toxins and some also
- act as food for your good microbes called prebiotics
- help you absorb and digest your food better.
What foods have a lot of fiber?
Some examples are: fruits, whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, and seeds
Summary and Main Points to Remember:
The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.
The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber and eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.