In the past ten years, the power and potential of a healthy digestive system have garnered much attention. And though a new(ish) trend, the importance of this system is nothing revolutionary. It was a mere 3,000 years ago when the father of natural medicine, Hippocrates declared, “All disease begins in the gut.”
Fast forward to today, when digestive health is a hot topic and probiotic-rich foods and supplements have never been more popular. Many of these supplements line the walls in natural health food stores, promising a solution to a myriad of digestive troubles. But depending on the status of our digestive system, sometimes blindly taking a broad-strain probiotic can add more species to an already overpopulated terrain, causing more constipation bloating and gas.
Exploring the Microbiome
Researchers and clinicians like myself have realized if we do not have a healthy gut, it can affect all of the other glands and organs within the body. As a practitioner and gut health enthusiast, I’ve made it my mission to study and research the truth about our gut health. Through this research, I developed a strategic healing plan that can support the overall balance of the digestive system, and thus the entire homeostasis of the body.
Here’s the deal: by focusing on our gut microbiome, or the collective genetic expression of all the bacteria, heavy metals, parasites, viruses, and protozoa in our gut, we can naturally support the body back to balance. It’s that simple. And while the gut is just one of seven microbiomes in our body, it includes over 100 trillion microorganisms and is truly the foundation of human health.
How does our microbiome become imbalanced?
Damage to our gut can occur due to:
- Stress. Our bacteria and microbes directly communicate to our brains through the enteric nervous system. If we are exposed to stress on a daily basis, our body kicks into fight or flight response and our digestion is compromised.
- Antibiotics. While these are sometimes necessary, antibiotics kill beneficial species leaving our gut lacking beneficial bacteria and more susceptible to pathogens and yeast. This also includes antibiotics, that are included in our meat and dairy products, as animals are often treated with antibiotics and hormones.
- Genetically modified foods (GMO’s), processed and sugar-filled foods. Because the genetic makeup of the foods has been altered, this also means it can change our gut microbiome. A diet rich in processed foods and a high sugar intake can contribute to Candida and fungal overgrowth.
Depending on your exposure and the health of your immune system, symptoms such as food sensitivities and allergies, bloating and gas, brain fog, malabsorption of nutrients can all start to develop. Autoimmune conditions and disease (such as hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis) can also creep up when gut health is less than optimal. When we deal with adrenal fatigue and thyroid disorders, we start feeling depressed and anxious, creating that “tired but wired feeling.”
To best understand how to protect our bodies from these disorders, we have to really dig deep into our gut health. One way to do this is examine it from a genetic perspective. Through rebuilding and re-colonizing the gut microbiome, we can alter genetic expression and therefore support and optimize the other microbiomes in our body. What does this mean for us? Not only are we influencing our gut microbiome but the other six microbiomes in our body (skin, lungs, genitals, respiratory system, mouth, and sinuses).
For example, by optimizing our gut microbiome, we regularly see skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne clear up or chronic sinus or yeast infections go away (without medication as interference) as the body communicates the new genetic code. If we take care of our microbes, they will take care of us.
5 Step Approach To Optimal Gut Health
- Slash inflammation through removing common foods, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, and soy, as these often create inflammatory response within the body. Reducing sugar intake is another important factor, as it kills good gut bacteria and blocks vitamin and mineral absorption. At the same time, adding in healthy antioxidant-rich foods, such as bone broth, vegetables and healing spices (coriander, turmeric, fennel) can provide the soil for the body to heal on its own.
- Address pathogens and bacteria overgrowth that disrupts not only the microbiome but also can create imbalances within the immune system, hormones, neurotransmitters (creating anxiety and depression). Instead of harsh antibiotics, we purge pathogens and unwanted bacteria through targeted botanical support. Biofilms are antibiotic resistant microorganisms that stick to each other forming colonies. For gut rejuvenation to occur, biofilms also need to be broken up. Instead of harsh antibiotics, try gentle botanicals and targeted enzyme support which can interrupt the hiding bacteria.
- Recolonize the gut through strategically providing specific different probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Bacillus. All of these strains have individual benefits to help repopulate your gut microbiome. Similar to reseeding your garden, re-educating your immune system and microbiome is the key to grow a healthy foundation. We can optimize our microbiome’s genetic expression (the soil) by adding specific “seeds” in the form of probiotic strains, and thus create the perfect environment for healthy microorganisms.
- Optimize hydrochloric acid (HCI) production through simple at home testing can give us diagnostic tools to help optimize our HCI and enzyme production. If we have inadequate stomach acid food can often sit and ferment in our stomach, it can leave us feeling bloated, gassy, and plagued brain fog after every meal. Supporting HCI production can help with the break down of food, creating efficient digestion and allowing you to use key vitamins and minerals for fuel.
- Create calance within your diet and lifestyle by not restricting yourself completely. I usually recommend an 80/20 balance, meaning making healthy choices 80 percent of the time, as this helps support and feed your microbiome, and the other 20 percent you can be a bit more lenient. (So yes, ice cream is still an option.)
Through using food as medicine and targeted botanical support we can create lasting changes that can benefit not only your digestive system but also your entire immune system. Our immune system’s best friends are trillions of microbes, which make up the microbiome. Give these microbes the love they need, and they’ll repay you trifold.
Christa Orecchio, founder of The Whole Journey is a clinical and holistic nutritionist with a passion for helping as many people as possible to heal and achieve vibrant health. After healing herself from chronic candida, brain fog, thyroid and adrenal problems, Christa was able to access a new level of health and happiness she previously did not think was possible. This inspired her to leave the business world to study holistic nutrition in 2003 so that should could “pay it forward” and help others experience the same powerful shifts. Christa combines her holistic and scientific knowledge to help people heal from the root cause using food as their medicine with a mind, body, spirit approach to wholeness. She has 10 years private practice experience, is a local and national health TV show host, bestselling author of How to Conceive Naturally and creator of Kick Candida for Good and the revolutionary Gut Thrive in 5 microbiome rejuvenation program. Learn more about Christa at thewholejourney.com.