Let’s talk about something that isn’t discussed enough: gut health. For starters, did you know that 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut? This is an important bit of information. That’s because your immunity is what fights against things like bacteria, fungus, viruses, and toxins that can affect your health.
This is why it’s important to be proactive about maintaining good gut health. That said, sometimes there can be a breakdown in this part of your body. When this happens, you may need to see a doctor. Some might prescribe a gut health functional medicine approach to restore you.
This article is going to explore all of this — what your gut needs, how to tell if you’ve got some digestive issues, various ways to get your gut back on track again, and what functional health medicine is all about.
What Is Your Gut?
Just to be sure that we’re all on the same page, your gut is your gastrointestinal (GI) system. This is the part of your body that breaks down the food that you eat so that your system can receive the nutrients that it needs.
Your gut does this with the help of different nerves as well as your hormones and “good bacteria”. The bacteria is comprised of a mucosal layer. It helps to balance the good and bad bacteria in your system.
When your gut is in great shape, you tend to be physically healthier and emotionally in a better mood. On the other hand, when your gut isn’t doing so well, there are signs to look out for.
Signs That Your Gut’s Health Is Compromised
What are some indications that your gut isn’t functioning in the way that it should?
- If you’re constipated
- If you’re bloated
- If you’re experiencing loose stools or diarrhea
- If you’ve got abdominal pains
- If you’ve suddenly become intolerant to certain foods
- If you’re tired all of the time
- If you have trouble sleeping
- If you’re craving lots of sugar
- If you’re getting migraines
- If your weight is fluctuating (up or down)
- If your skin is breaking out or you’re having bouts of eczema or psoriasis
- If you’re constantly in a bad mood
All of these things could mean that your gut is not working at an optimal level. The good news is there are things that you can do to change that.
This Is How to Improve Gut Health at Home
If you’re currently experiencing any of the symptoms that were just mentioned, the first thing that you should do is alter a few of your lifestyle habits. You can do this by:
- Reducing your stress levels
- Getting no less than 7-8 hours of sleep every night
- Consuming less sugar, fried and processed foods
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating your food slower
- Avoiding foods that can cause gas like cruciferous vegetables, dairy products, and beans
Are There Foods That You Can Eat to Improve Your Gut’s Health?
Aside from those tips, there are also foods that help to promote good gut health. For instance, any foods that are high in probiotics are good for your gut. That’s because probiotics help to put good bacteria into your gastrointestinal (GI) system. Some foods that are loaded with probiotics are fermented ones like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, sourdough bread, and apple cider vinegar.
Another kind of food that you should eat more of is prebiotics. These are fiber-rich foods that help to feed the probiotics that are already in your body. Some of those include leeks, onions, raspberries, asparagus, and garlic.
There are also herbal teas that can help to keep your gut strong:
- Ginger stimulates your intestines which improves digestion
- Chamomile soothes your digestive tract and makes your digestive system less sluggish
- Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory properties
- Green tea is loaded with antioxidants
- Oolong has catechins and theaflavins in it; they work together to improve digestive health
But what do you do if, after trying all of these foods and methods, your gut health doesn’t seem to improve? What’s the next step that you should take?
How Can I Heal My Gut?
If no matter what you seem to do, your gut isn’t getting any better, it’s time to see your doctor. They are experts on how to improve gut health.First, they will probably ask you a series of questions. Depending on the answers you provide and the symptoms that you have, they may run a series of tests. This can include MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and X-rays to determine if there are any lesions, polyps, or abnormal cells in your gut.
Sometimes those tests will determine that you need to do more of what you’ve already been doing. Other times, you may be prescribed traditional medicine or gut health functional medicine. Let’s look more into what the latter consists of.
Functional Medicine and Gut Health
Another thing that can sometimes impair your gut health are certain types of medications. Antibiotics, antacids, antidepressants, sleeping pills, and even laxatives can disrupt the gentle balance of bacteria in your gut.
However, there are also medications (including over-the-counter ones) that can bring some much-needed relief. Some of those include lactase supplements (if you’re lactose intolerant), simethicone (it reduces bloating and abdominal pain), and probiotic supplements.
To get to the root of your gut issues, some physicians will recommend taking a functional medicine gut health approach. Functional medicine is all about approaching your health from a more holistic perspective. Your doctor won’t just ask standard health-related questions; they will also seek to learn more about your lifestyle, triggers, and daily habits.
Why is all of this necessary? The belief is that the more your doctor can learn about you, the easier it will be to get to the root cause of your health problems and customize a plan that will get you back on the road to healing.
How Functional Medicine Can Help a Leaky Gut
Say that you have leaky gut syndrome; that’s when some part of your intestinal barrier has become weakened and toxins end up going into your bloodstream. Oftentimes this is associated with autoimmune diseases, diabetes, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and arthritis. What functional medicine does is consider these conditions along with other possible factors.
Since leaky gut syndrome also tends to come with symptoms like brain fog, joint pain, seasonal allergies, insomnia, and skin issues, functional medicine seeks to figure out how to treat the core issue, not just reduce the symptoms.
It’s able to do this because, professionals who practice functional medicine, know that a poor diet, high stress, taking too many anti-inflammatory medications, not consuming enough fiber, and being exposed to too many preservatives and pesticides could all be a factor. By taking all of this into account, functional medicine can decipher what the triggers are, remove them and help to heal a leaky gut long-term.
Aside from adjusting habits that may be increasing stress levels or affecting sleep, your physician may also recommend incorporating some bile acids and digestive enzymes into your diet. They can help to improve the way your food is digested.
Taking supplements like Vitamin C (it’s full of antioxidants), fish oil (it reduces gut inflammation), and zinc (it helps to strengthen your gut lining) can help to get your gut back on track too.
Why Functional Medicine Is Beneficial Overall
Something that you may have noticed about functional medicine is it typically takes a more natural approach instead of just writing you a prescription. This is beneficial because this approach can be easier on your body and help to reduce so many of the overall symptoms that may be associated with your gut health.
Oftentimes, alternative approaches to traditional medicine can reduce side effects and help to put patients more at ease as well. In fact, there’s an increasing amount of studies that support the fact that functional medicine helps to improve people’s overall health scores. That’s why it can never hurt to ask yourself: How can I find a gut doctor near me?
Where to Get Gut Health Functional Medicine Assistance in Maryland
If you’re looking for a gut health doctor in Maryland you’re in the right place.
If you happen to live in the state and you have a gut health issue, you want to learn how to improve gut health or you’d like some more insight into gut health functional medicine, Shakthi Health & Wellness Center can be of great assistance. They not only specialize in functional medicine but alternative, holistic, and several other alternative approaches to traditional medicine too.