We've all heard the expressions "go with your gut" and "you are what you eat." Those expressions may have more validity than anyone thought.
Research continues to point to the digestive tract as the key to our overall health and well-being. This stands to reason: All the nutrients our body receives must travel through the digestive tract and be properly absorbed. If that system isn't functioning well, we can experience problems throughout our body, from low energy to inflammation. Even your mood can be affected by what's going on in your gut.
Greg and Julia Wieland of Sisters Acupuncture tend to look to the gut first when they see clients who just aren't feeling their best.
"If the food is efficiently breaking down, it will create an efficient blood chemistry," Julia explains.
When that's not happening, all kinds of negative effects can ensue.
There are many factors that can interfere with your gut health. The Wielands recommend avoiding sugar and alcohol, especially in excess, and minimize refined carbs. Antibiotics and birth-control pills can disrupt the flora of the system.
Eating fermented foods is a great way to recolonize the gut with good bacteria, but it's difficult to eat enough to get what you need.
Greg Wieland recommends taking a high quality probiotic.
"Recolonizing the good bacteria these days is generally done through a pill," he says. "It's like a multivitamin for your digestive system."
As with any supplement, quality varies. Wieland has found a particular variety that he considers most effective.
Disruptions in the digestive system don't always manifest first as discomfort in the gut. Sometimes the first signal that something is off is your mood and emotions, or a sensation of being "in a fog."
Conversely, stress and worry can act negatively on the gut. We've all had the experience of stress causing an upset stomach. Stress can also lead us to consume too much alcohol or eat "comfort foods" that are not really the best thing for our health.
Healthy stress-relieving activities - from controlled breathing techniques to meditation to simply walking the dog - can mitigate the impact of stress on the body.
So, if you're not feeling like yourself, "go with your gut" and take a good hard look at what you're taking in. A healthy gut can work wonders for a healthy body.