5 main reasons why we become fat Part 4 - Gut Health
Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut”. He said this more than 2,000 years ago and we are only now beginning to understand just how right he was. Research over the past two decades has shown us that gut health is vital to our overall health, and that an unhealthy gut causes a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
There are two main players when it comes to your gut health: the intestinal microbiota “gut flora” and the gut barrier.
Our gut health has the ability to drive our appetite for high calorie foods, increase the amount of systemic inflammation we face, and also extract more calories from the foods we are eating. A main goal for any weight loss program should be to focus on foods that heal the gut. Typically “bad” bacteria like to feed off of sugar and refined carbohydrates, while “good” bacteria feed on fruits and vegetables. This makes sticking with a Paleo diet for 30 days and more even more important. That way the good bacteria can overtake the bad bacteria and allow uour gut to heal.
The gut flora: a healthy garden needs healthy soil.
We’ve only recently begun to understand the extent of the gut flora’s role in health and disease. Gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 75% of our immune system. Poor gut flora has been linked to many diseases like autism, depression, autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.
Our modern lifestyle is directly contributing to unhealthy gut flora:
- Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods (breads, rices, pasta, sugars and fake foods)
- Diets low in fermentable fibers (leafy green vegetables, berries and sweet potato)
- Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
Antibiotics are particularly harmful to the gut flora as they causes a profound and rapid loss of the gut flora. This diversity is not recovered after antibiotic use without intervention.
The gut barrier: the gatekeeper that decides what gets in and what stays out.
The gut is a hollow tube that passes from the mouth to the anus. The main function of the gut is to prevent foreign substances from entering the body. Anything that goes in the mouth and isn’t digested will pass right out the other end.
When the intestinal barrier becomes weak and damaged (leaky gut syndrome), large protein molecules escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong outside of the gut, the body creates an immune response and attacks them. Studies show that these attacks play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and type 1 diabetes and others. The strength of the intestinal barrier is a major factor in autoimmune disease. A breach of the intestinal barrier can also effect other organs and tissues. These include the skeletal system, the kidney, the live and the pancreas.
How to maintain and restore a healthy gut:
First step in creating and then maintaining a healthy diet, avoid all of the things I listed above that kill gut flora and damage the intestinal barrier. It is not always possible especially in the case of chronic stress and infections so the best you can where you can and you will see and feel the benefits.