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  • Writer's pictureShayna Keller

What Makes a gut healthy?

Updated: 4 days ago

Watch this episode where I discuss what makes a gut healthy with Jane Litsey, ND. Jane is a Naturopathic Doctor in Boulder, Colorado - graduate of Bastyr University 2020.

What Makes a gut healthy?: The human body is a complex and fascinating ecosystem interconnected in many ways. In this blog post, we delve into the world of digestive discomfort and explore the relationships between gut health, skin issues, female reproductive health, and mental well-being.

The Gut-Skin Connection: Did you know that our skin and digestive system share the same embryological tissue? This connection highlights the profound influence of our gut on skin health. It emphasizes the importance of viewing the body as a holistic entity rather than compartmentalizing health concerns. When it comes to digestive discomfort, it's essential to consider the impact it can have on the skin and vice versa.

Digestion Begins Before We Eat: The journey of digestion begins even before we take the first bite. Our senses of sight and smell trigger a beautiful cascade of signals that prepare the gastrointestinal (GI) system for the incoming food. This pre-digestive phase is a reminder that our bodies are finely tuned to respond to the environment and process food optimally.

Unraveling the Stomach's Secrets: The stomach, often referred to as the "caldron," plays a crucial role in the digestive process. However, allopathic treatments that inhibit stomach acid or soak up stomach acid can disrupt its natural functions. Maintaining a healthy pH level (around 1-2) is vital for optimal digestion and avoiding issues like H. pylori infection.

The stomach does not have teeth. If you are not chewing your food, you are missing out on a vital step of digestion. Instead, it acts as a caldron, breaking down food into smaller, more digestible components. Consider opting for blended soups, which provide warmth and may be gentler on the digestive system if there are concerns about gas and bloating.

The Vagus Nerve and Nervous System Calmness: One of the best ways to soothe both the nervous and digestive systems is by finding moments of tranquility. Imagine sitting on a rock by the river, quietly observing the flow of water. It is in these moments that our rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system is activated, promoting a state of calmness and optimal digestion.

The Marvels of the Small Intestine: The small intestine, with an astounding surface area equivalent to a tennis court, continues the digestion process. It receives enzymes from the pancreas, which act as scissors, breaking down food into single amino acids for easy absorption by the body. The liver and gallbladder produce and store bile, respectively, aiding in fat absorption upon secretion into the small intestines via an opening called the Sphincter of Oddi.

The Impact of Mucosal Membranes: Mucosal membranes line various parts of our body, including the eyes, nose, mouth, and the entire GI system. Dry mucosal membranes, often caused by substances like coffee, cigarettes, and cannabis, can have detrimental effects. Demulcents, particularly beneficial for those in dry climates like Colorado, can help alleviate these issues.

Unveiling the Immune System's Hub: Did you know that approximately 70% of the immune system resides beneath a single layer of cells in the digestive tract? This profound connection emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy gut for overall well-being. Conditions like leaky gut, referred to intestinal permeability in scientific literature, can impact immune responses and trigger inflammatory reactions.

The Colon's Role and the Microbiome: The colon, also known as the large intestine, hosts a significant portion of our microbiome. Nourishing this microbial ecosystem is crucial for optimal health. Feeding our microbiome with plant material allows them to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, which help fortify the integrity of the intestinal tract.

Understanding the Migrating Motor Complex: Peristalsis, the rhythmic movement of the GI system, plays a vital role in maintaining digestive health. The migrating motor complex (MMC) acts as a "house sweeper," clearing debris and promoting optimal gut function. Taking breaks between meals allows the gut to rest and efficiently carry out its cleansing processes.

Embracing the Interconnectedness: The intricate web of connections within our bodies reminds us of the importance of viewing health holistically. From the gut to the skin and the female reproductive system, each aspect influences the others. Nurturing our digestive well-being ultimately contributes to overall vitality and a balanced state of health.

Conclusion: As we explore the complexities of digestive discomfort, it becomes evident that our bodies are truly remarkable. The interplay between the gut, skin, female reproductive system, and mental health highlights the interconnectedness and demands a comprehensive approach to well-being. By understanding these connections and prioritizing digestive health, we can embark on a path towards optimal vitality and a harmonious equilibrium within ourselves.

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