Hippocrates, who is often called the Father of Medicine, once said that all disease starts in the gut. Although it has taken about 2,400 years, researchers are finally proving him right. Digestive health can affect everything from your mood to your immune system and nearly every function in between. In fact, your gut is often considered the body's "second brain," highlighting the important role it plays in your overall well-being.
Your Second Brain
The gastrointestinal tract is lined by about 100 million nerve cells, which are referred to as the Enteric Nervous System. In order to help you digest food, the ENS constantly communicates with your brain and immune system. When your digestive tract is healthy, it is full of beneficial microbes, maximizing your ability to absorb nutrients. When these beneficial bacteria are present at the proper levels, the body is able to regulate hormones, eliminate toxins, and respond to potential threats just as it should.
The Importance of Microbes
Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that such microbes determine the healthy (or not-so healthy) state of your digestive system. If the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria is out of whack, gut dysbiosis can occur. These bad organisms include not just bacteria but also yeast - and yikes - even parasites. They can also damage the mucosal lining of the GI tract, allowing food proteins to pass into the bloodstream and trigger inflammation.
Symptoms of an Unhealthy Digestive Tract
So how do you know if your gut is healthy? If you experience any of the following symptoms, there may be something throwing your digestive system off balance:
- Bloating after meals
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Joint pain
- Poor immunity
Diet Plays a Direct Role
The occasional stomach ache or bloated belly doesn’t necessarily mean your digestive system is in trouble. However, if you’re chronically constipated, bloated, or tired, your body is trying to tell you something. Research shows that what you ingest has a direct effect on the number of microbes in your gut. With this in mind, the simplest path to a healthier gut is through your diet. Standard American cuisine is full of simple carbohydrates and highly processed foods, which unfortunately, feed the bad bacteria in your belly. As tasty as carbs may be, it’s best to keep them to a minimum and choose more wholesome foods instead.
Supplement Your Diet
Herbal supplements can also keep your digestive system on track. Ginger and peppermint have been used for centuries to manage digestive symptoms and can be powerful calming aids for those with gut imbalances. Other helpful herbs include gentian root, which stimulates healthy digestion and enables your body to absorb nutrients properly. There's also yarrow leaf, which helps heal the mucosal lining of the intestine.
Restoring balance to your gut can often be done in 2 simple steps:
1. Remove problem foods, and replace them with more natural options.
2. Supplement your diet with powerful herbs that keep your digestive system running smoothly.
While this two-step formula isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan, it’s a great place to start for anyone looking to foster their overall well-being by focusing on their gut health.