All disease begins in the gut.
Hippocrates stated, “All disease begins in the gut.” That was well over 2,000 years ago but within the past several years has gut health begun getting the attention and accolades it deserves.
What is Gut Health and Why Does it Matter?
Good gut health consists of more good gut bacteria than bad. All digestive systems contain both, but what’s critical is that there is more good than bad and that they are found in appropriate quantities in the appropriate places (i.e. there should not be an excess of gut bacteria in the small intestine or SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – can occur).
Gut health matters because a huge portion (most sources estimate 70 – 80%) of the immune system lies in the gut. When gut health is compromised it will almost always affect every single other piece of the body in one way or another.
Without good gut health, everything from head (literally, the brain) to toe suffers.
It’s imperative that we do everything possible to help keep the 30-ish feet of digestive tract thriving.
5 Things to Help Your Gut Thrive
1. Chew your food. You might not know this, but digestion begins in the brain. According to Harvard Health, “The very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there.” Start here, and the rest will be much easier. Sometimes, with both digestion and life, it’s just getting back to the basics.
2. Probiotics and Prebiotics. The gut thrives when it is given both probiotics and prebiotics, and they are not the same things. Probiotics are “good bacteria,” and prebiotics feed the probiotics. If there are no underlying gut issues, one should ensure proper use of both probiotics and prebiotics to help keep the gut healthy, vibrant, and thriving.
3. Simpler is better. When it comes to the gut, simpler is better. Choose foods and beverages that have as few ingredients as possible – and make sure you can pronounce the ones that are used. The human body enjoys the simple, finer things in life.
4. Listen to it. You know the old saying, “Listen to your gut”? There is far more to that than simply knowing right from wrong situationally. The more you can listen to your gut after you eat, the more you’ll know if that food is right or wrong for you. Not everyone is gluten intolerant, and yet some people are intolerant to something as basic as an apple. The only way to know is by leaning in and listening (and getting tested for it).
5. Drink water. How many times have you heard it? “You must drink more water.” Thousands probably, but we’ll make this the 1,001st time because it’s that important. The body is made up of 55-60% water. Water helps to move the digestive system along, and eliminate toxins from the body via sweat, urine, feces, etc. Toxins cause irritation and inflammation, damaging the gut even more. Drink up (but also make note that you can get more water from sources other than straight water: fruits, vegetables, and even a high-quality plant-based milk that consists of just filtered water and nuts)!
In addition to these 5 things to help your gut thrive, other key components of everyday gut health are plants and a plant-based diet.
How a Plant-Based Diet Helps the Gut Thrive
There are a thousand different ways to heal the gut, but there is no one way that works for everyone. Some of the most popular gut-healing diets include: Paleo, AIP, Low-FODMAP, GAPS Diet, SCD, Ketogenic, Vegan or Vegetarian, and low-carbohydrate in general.
Many of these diets share several commonalities; on the flip side, some of them are vastly different. The main (and biggest) difference is the use of meat: Vegan and Vegetarian does not allow meat; all of the others listed do.
But no matter which diet is chosen, the one constant that remains a focal point among experts and the research is that including more plants and plant-based foods is key.
Plants and plant-based foods offer:
1. Fiber helps provide nourishment for bacteria, promotes diversity, and helps move waste through the digestive system.
2. Plants and plant-based foods tend to be some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. They are high in vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, and/or minerals.
3. No hormones or antibiotics, like those which are often found in animal-based products.
Why Choose Elmhurst 1925 Plant-Based Products
It’s inevitable. No matter what, we tend to incorporate milk of some sort into our diets daily. There is the smoothie for breakfast, glass of milk at lunch, cream-based soup for dinner, and milkshake for dessert.
The bad news is that lactase – the enzyme that breaks down lactose (which is found in dairy milk) – stops being produced when a person is between two and five years old. For this reason, most people are intolerant to dairy milk. As a result, the undigested sugars end up in the colon, where they begin to ferment, producing gas that can cause cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence and diarrhea.
The good news is that you can still enjoy all the benefits of dairy milk (the mouthfeel, recipes, nostalgic moments) without feeling any aftereffects by choosing Elmhurst 1925 plant-based milks.
In addition to the fact that plant-based milks do not contain lactose, Elmhurst plant-based products also don’t have other things that tend to disrupt good gut health.
1. Carrageenan. There is a direct correlation between carrageenan and gut issues in individuals.
2. Gums and other thickening agents. If you have conditions such as the following, it may be especially important for you to avoid gums: other food allergies or sensitivities; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); the less common but more serious inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease; or small bowel bacterial overgrowth, also called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (abbreviated SBBO or SIBO.
3. GMOs. Gastrointestinal disorders have been on the rise for the past 50 years, and gluten, processed foods, and GMOs are driving it.
4. Artificial sweeteners. A 2014 study found that artificial sweeteners are able to alter your gut microbes, and your health as a result.
5. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Research done by a group at theChildren’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that free fructose from HFCS requires more energy to be absorbed by the gut and soaks up two phosphorous molecules from ATP (our body’s energy source). This depletes the energy fuel source (ATP) in our gut required to maintain the integrity of our intestinal lining. Little “tight junctions” cement each intestinal cell together preventing food and bacteria from “leaking” across the intestinal membrane and triggering an immune reaction and body-wide inflammation.
6. Gluten. Even if you don’t have Celiac Disease, gluten can still wreak havoc on the gut in a myriad of ways.
Good gut health will see you to living your best life; simper, and better.