Cleaning Up The Gut


For today’s post, I am writing about clean eating for gut health. I will be discussing what I learned from cardiologist, and integrative medical doctor, Alejandro Junger. He has written several books on how to eat clean, and detoxify our bodies. During this session I had many “a ha” moments, realizing much of what he said applied directly to me! I was fascinated with his interview during the Gut Summit, and am putting into personal practice several of the things he discussed. I would love to share some of the information I learned, with the hope that you too will learn something new and helpful.

He began by discussing “leaky gut”, which is particularly interesting to me, because that is something I struggle with. He said, “the gut is the root of health”. It is the beginning of immunity. Before doing my research, I had no idea how closely the gut and immune system worked together. I also did not realize the gut-brain connection. For me, it is exciting to realize that I really can make a difference in my health!

Inflammation causes much damage in our bodies, and most of the health issues individuals have, are due to inflammation somewhere in the body. So the question is, “How do we lessen or completely get rid of inflammation?” Dr. Junger suggests that a lot of people are so much better off if they eliminate the toxic trigger foods that cause inflammation in the gut. For many people these trigger foods have to do with dairy, sugar, coffee, alcohol, and gluten in the diet. Each person is different, and sometimes it is trial and error to see what your trigger foods might be that are causing you to feel blah, bloated, or having to run to the bathroom. It is also important to take good prebiotics (the things the good bacteria in our gut requires) and probiotics (the good bacteria that live in our gut). Here is an article by Dr. Michael Smith of WebMD, that explains both probiotics and prebiotics.

Dr. Junger stated that a large amount of serotonin is made in the gut. So you might be thinking, “that is interesting, but what exactly is serotonin and why is it important?” I looked up a brief description of serotonin in Wikipedia to give us an idea of its importance to us and our well being.

This is what I found: Serotonin /ˌsɛrəˈtoʊnɨn/ or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), platelets, and the central nervous system(CNS) of animals, including humans. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.

Approximately 90% of the human body‘s total serotonin is located in the enterochromaffin cells in the GI tract, where it is used to regulate intestinal movements. The remainder is synthesized in serotonergic neurons of the CNS, where it has various functions. These include the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning. Modulation of serotonin at synapses is thought to be a major action of several classes of pharmacological antidepressants.

No wonder Dr. Junger said, if someone is not making enough serotonin in the gut, it can cause stress! Life is always going to have some stress, but if we can help our bodies to deal with it more constructively, by taking care of our gut, we can lessen the detrimenatal effects of stress on our overall health and well being.

Come back next weekend and learn more fascinating and beneficial information about gut health!