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Natural Awakenings Rhode Island

True Health Starts with Gut Health

Jun 29, 2020 08:00AM ● By Bridget Casey
Hippocrates first made the statement, “All disease begins in the gut” more than 2,000 years ago. And how right he was. One of the hottest topics in health, medicine and research right now is, in fact, the gut microbiome—the garden of microbes that lives in our gut (gastrointestinal tract) and has far-reaching implications for our health.

Digestion is about more than just breaking down the foods that we eat. Digestion also includes absorbing nutrients from our diet and using them to build molecules and tissues that enable us to maintain life. Elimination is also a key part of the digestive process, allowing us to rid our bodies of toxins, chemicals and used up biomolecules.

Another important component of digestion is immune function, as the majority of our immune system actually lives in and around our gut. This means the status of our gastrointestinal tract heavily impacts our immune status and inflammation. In addition, there is a super highway between the gut and the brain, called the gut-brain axis, which means the status of our gut also impacts our mood, neurological health, memory and so on.

The status of our microbiome impacts everything from nutrient levels to inflammation to hormone levels and neurotransmitter levels. So, achieving and maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract is extremely important to overall health. Essentially, if our guts aren’t happy, neither are we.

The following are some simple tips that can be used to help improve digestion and gut health.

Before and During Meals:

Carve out time for meals – avoid eating on the run; instead choose to sit down, focus on and enjoy each meal.

Enjoy the entire mealtime experience from the process of preparing to the actual eating of food—the sounds, smells, sight, taste, etc.

Try to get into a relaxed, calm and appreciative state prior to meals. Digestion does not work properly without the body being relaxed. You can try taking 10 deep, belly breaths with long exhales, saying a word of gratitude, or any other activity that is calming.

~Avoid distractions while eating, such as the TV, cell phone or computer.

~Listen to your body and try to eat when truly hungry (i.e. avoid eating out of boredom, etc.).

~Chew food thoroughly; it should be in a liquid state before swallowing.

~Avoid beverages with meals, but drink plenty of water between meals.

~Avoid tight clothing around the waist.

~If you tend to overeat: Stop eating when you start to feel full. Avoid the urge to clean your plate; instead save leftovers for a future meal.

~Most importantly, have fun and enjoy meals. Try sharing recipes with friends or experimenting with new ingredients and spices. Food is meant to be shared and loved.

Depending on one’s symptoms and situation, additional support may be indicated in order to achieve proper digestive function. If this is the case, it is recommended to work with a practitioner, such as a naturopathic doctor, that can help create an individualized plan, which may include herbs, supplements, homeopathics or other natural remedies to help improve digestive function and overall health. 

Bridget Casey, ND, is the owner of Rhode Island Natural Medicine, LLC, located at 35 S. Angell St., Ste. #7, Providence. For more information, call 401-642-5855 or visit RINaturalMedicine.com.