If you’re like many people, you probably struggle with gut issues from time to time. Some of us have problems on a daily basis and others only experience intestinal distress every week or two. If you’ve ever been bloated, had diarrhea, or been constipated, you know that it’s not a pleasant experience.
"Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves.
Surrounding and protecting the nerve fibers of the CNS is a fatty tissue called myelin, which helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses." From Blue Fingers Brass Knuckles, The Power of Inspiration, Faith, Courage and Love".
In recent studies, microbiota refers to the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live inside and on the human body, and their collective genetic pool is termed the microbiome. Bacterial species colonizing the small and large intestines are referred to as the gut microbiota, and their role in health and diseases are being investigated as a primary driver of host physiology. The gut microbiota functions like a bioreactor that influences nutrient uptake, food metabolism, energy homeostasis, and mucosal and systemic immune responses. A healthy gut microbiota is characterized by its diversity and resilience, and it helps to keep the host healthy in multiple ways, including maintenance of an intact intestinal barrier, inhibition of colonization by pathogenic organisms, and regulation of host physiology and immune responses
So what is causing all this gut discomfort?
Many of us are suffering from something called leaky gut syndrome (or intestinal permeability, in medical terminology). This is when the intestinal lining has been irritated to the point that it has several weakened areas where large food particles can “leak” out of the intestines and head right for the bloodstream.
This is problematic since these runaway food particles can be really do damage to our bodies in their undigested forms. Leaky gut also triggers an autoimmune response, causing our immune system to attack particles in our stomachs leading to inflammation and other frustrating side effects.
This can be triggered by excessive amounts of processed foods over a period of time, as many of the “fake” fillers seem like foreign invaders and serious irritants to our stomachs. It can also be caused by antibiotics, especially if you’ve taken multiple rounds over your lifetime without replenishing the good bacteria and taking the steps to fully heal after. Steroids and over-the-counter pain relievers can also be irritating to the lining of the intestines, eventually leading to leaky gut.
How can you tell if you have leaky gut?
Here are a few of the typical symptoms of someone who has some intestinal permeability.
Low-functioning immune system
Depression and anxiety
If you struggle with intestinal discomfort on a regular basis or have many of these other symptoms, you probably are dealing with leaky gut issues. Aside from the discomfort, leaky gut can cause other issues in the body, so it’s important to give it your full attention. Gut health is directly linked to many chronic illnesses, including MS and will determine the progression of the disease.
Below are some guidelines on how to heal your gut issues which will have a ripple effect on your overall health.
How to Heal Your Gut and Start Feeling Better
Luckily, healing your gut isn’t rocket science. But it will take dedication on your part to healing. Doing something great for 3 days and then abandoning your efforts to go attack an alluring chocolate cake won’t do much to improve your gut health. It will take time to heal but will be very worth it in the end.
Here are some things you can incorporate into your daily routine that will, slowly but surely, create a better gut environment and bring you better health in the long run.
1. Keep a food journal for a week or more.
This is generally a good thing to do all the time if you can make it happen. But at least for one week, keep track of everything you’re eating and how you’re feeling, both physically and mentally. After a while, you might start noticing patterns in the connection between what you put into your mouth and then what you feel like later. Pretend you’re a detective and start looking for the clues your body is trying to send to you.
2. Eliminate foods you’re sensitive to.
After paying attention to your food journal patterns, cut out the major foods that you can tell are probably not doing great things for your gut. These foods are typically things like gluten and dairy. Take a nice long break from these foods while you’re healing your intestinal tract.
3. While you’re at it, cut out processed foods entirely.
Since processed foods are generally one of the main offenders in leaky gut, it’s time to give yourself a break from them. This includes any food that comes in a package that is ready-to-eat. Yes, even the tasty stuff from the food co-op. Stick to foods you have to prepare, cook, and take time to make.
4. Start eating fermented foods.
Learn to love sauerkraut (Bubbies) is my favorite, and other fermented foods. You can also make your own as well. Then eat or drink them every single day.
5. Don’t forget to include more prebiotics.
These are the food particles that all that wonderful gut bacteria eat so they can multiply and do better work. These include foods like garlic, onions, legumes (though not recommended for those with MS), fruits, and veggies. These provide the gut with high-quality fiber that makes probiotics go nuts.
6. Start making and drinking bone broth.
This incredible stuff is soothing to the intestinal tract, decreasing inflammation and helping the mucosa build back up again. Bone broth is also great for gut bacteria and aids in cell growth. Your gut will love this addition to your daily meals and snacks.
7. Lay off the cocktails for a while.
Alcohol is an irritant to the intestines, which doesn’t help much if you’re trying to improve your gut health. While a drink now and then isn’t the end of the world, it isn’t effective when your gut is in crisis. Give it up for a while and focus completely on making your intestinal tract strong and healthy again.
7. Reduce your stress and sleep more.
While this tip might not seem directly related to your gut, it is great advice for any healing process. Give your body more rest and relaxation so it can do a better job of focusing on healing your leaky gut. You’ll just generally feel better, too.
Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Body
Taking the time to take care of your body pays off in better health. Better health allows you to feel great, enjoy life more, and feel more mentally at peace. Science has discovered that our intestinal tract is directly related to our mental health, as many of the hormones needed for happiness (such as serotonin) are produced in our gut.
The healthier our intestinal tracts are, the better our overall physical health will be. The ripple effects from healing your gut are extensive. Your clean bill of health and happy tummy will make you glad you took the time for this ultra-important step in effective self-care.
Learning how to heal your gut is a vital step to total wellness.
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Jen Martin is a Master Certified Wellness Coach, specializing in helping women with Multiple Sclerosis to skyrocket energy levels, manage MS symptoms and improve overall health naturally, so that you can transform from Fatigued to Fabulous! The MS Energy Blueprint is your personalized roadmap to your health and wellness success.
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