Throughout the month of February, we are talking all about loving your gut! Keep reading to learn why gut health is important, how you can tell if your gut is unhealthy, and lastly, how bone broth can help.
Why is gut health important?
Gut health is important for your overall health and for so much more. With a healthy gut you have a more robust immune system as well as a more positive mental state.
Your gut is actually referred to by scientists as your "second brain", and it's also home to the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS consists of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.
Each time you eat or drink something, your gut has to work to break the food down into a simpler form. This allows your body to deliver the nutrients you get from food throughout your body. But if your digestive system isn’t working properly, whether due to dysbiosis, inflammation, or something else, you won’t be able to properly digest and absorb the nutrients in your food. Which is why the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ should really be ‘you are what you digest and absorb.
Within a healthy gut, you'll find beneficial bacteria and immune cells that fight off harmful, opportunistic bacteria and other substances like, fungi and viruses. Having a healthy gut is also vitally important for cognitive function, since your gut and brain communicate with one another across the gut-brain axis. When your gut is healthy, this communication process is a breeze.
How can you tell if you have an unhealthy gut?
There’s more than one way that your gut health can go awry, and more than one reason for it, too. Problems with your gut can range from intestinal permeability (also called leaky gut!) to dysbiosis and inflammation, and you may just suffer from a mix of all three.
If you’re experiencing symptoms like as brain fog, inflammation, acne, gas, eczema, fatigue, bloating, unintentional weight changes, skin issues, and more, you likely have an unhealthy gut. etc.
Though there are a few different causes, the main ones tend to be:
- Chronic stress
- Food choices, particularly excess sugar and carbohydrates, as well as intake of potentially inflammatory foods like gluten
- Antibiotic-use, along with other pharmaceutical drugs (including chronic use of PPIs)
Toxin exposure, including from things like plastics, personal care products, non-filtered water, and home cleaning products
- Infections like H Pylori
Dysbiosis simply means an imbalance in your gut bacteria, with too many opportunistic “bad” bacteria, and in some cases, not enough of the beneficial bacteria that you need in your gut.
When your gut is "leaky", large particles easily pass through the gut lining, including particles that may not be safe, or that your body may view as foreign.
You want your gut lining to be selective about what passes through, which is where epithelial cells come into play.
This is where the epithelial cells come into play.
Your epithelial cells are little finger-like cells that line your digestive tract. They produce mucus, which helps to protect your gut from infections as well as keep bacteria levels in check. Together, these epithelial cells form tight junctions in the gut, which are knit together to limit the size and types of particles that can pass through the epithelial lining.
When they’re functioning properly, your epithelial cells help maintain homeostasis within your digestive tract and support a strong, robust immune system.
However, when you eat inflammatory foods like gluten or sugar, are chronically stressed, or have to take pharmaceutical drugs, your tight junctions may separate just a bit, making space for larger particles to find their way through. This can wreak havoc on your overall health and even lead to inflammation and autoimmunity.
How can bone broth help a healthy, strong gut lining?
Thankfully, there’s plenty that you can do to repair your gut and improve your overall health. To start, aim to eat whole foods with ample high-quality protein, healthy fats, and veggies. Work to limit your consumption of added sugar and carbohydrates, particularly refined ones. Practice stress management, get enough sleep, move your body as you’re able, and eat less frequently (no need for 6 small meals a day or endless snacks).
And one of the best ways to repair your gut lining, heal your gut, and improve your overall health? Drink bone broth!
Bone broth is FULL of valuable amino acids, collagen, gelatin, and trace minerals that your body craves. These are all fantastic for healing leaky gut, improving dysbiosis, and keeping your digestive tract in tip-top shape.
Bone broth is easily digested and soothing to the digestive system, unlike many other foods that can be difficult to fully break down. By regularly drinking bone broth or using it in recipes, you can help promote healthy gut integrity while reducing inflammation.
Let’s break down how:
- Collagen helps to nourish the intestinal lining and reduce inflammation. Plus, it’s easy for a damaged gut to digest and reap the benefits of its protein and minerals
- Gelatin is essential for connective tissue function. It literally acts to heal and seal the gut, making bone broth essential for those with chronic inflammation or leaky gut. Gelatin also absorbs water and helps to maintain the layer of mucus that keeps gut microbes away from the intestinal barrier.
- Glycine is an important amino acid that helps your body make proteins. It also helps reduce inflammation and protects against ulcers within your gut.
- Glutamine is a powerhouse for your cells, providing them with the energy they need! It also helps to maintain the integrity of the gut lining.
Collagen, gelatin, glycine and glutamine are nutrients that we simply don’t get enough of in our modern diets. Bone broth conveniently combines them all into one easy-to-sip package. If you suspect your gut health could use some help, add in 8-16oz of bone broth each day and see how you feel!
Bone broth is full of many elements that make it incredibly beneficial for you like collagen, gelatin, and more.
https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/what-is-gut-health-and-why-is-it-important/2019/07#:~:text=A healthy gut contains healthy,general health and well-being.