The phrase ‘go with your gut instinct’ is a tried-and-true technique we use on the regular from the most basic decisions of our day, such as what sounds good for lunch, to more complex life choices, like pondering a career move. But how often do we really listen to what our gut may be telling us? Every day, our body sends an internal status report to our brain, communicating through a series of signs and symptoms, of how our metabolism is operating. Usually we catch the obvious alerting symptoms – like bloating, heartburn, cramping, or gas. We pop an over-the-counter antacid, chug another cup of coffee and go about our day feeling miserable.
But in what other seemingly unconnected ways is your gut desperately trying to get your attention that we are ignoring? How do you know when your gut is in revolt? Here are a few signs you may be overlooking, along with some tips on what you can do.
Sugar Cravings. Did you think your crazy sweet tooth was always a lack of self-control? Think again – it is likely related to your gut! There are many different types of bacteria residing in your gut, collectively called the ‘gut microbiome.’ These bacteria are really good at manipulating your cravings in order to feed them and help them multiply. A diet full of sugar, processed foods and unhealthy fats feeds the many sugar-loving bacteria, such as yeast, which further leads to even more intense sugar cravings that ultimately perpetuate the unhealthy gut cycle. In order to break the cycle and reduce the sugar cravings, prioritize fiber-rich foods, like vegetables, fruits, and beans in order to bring balance back to the gut microbiome.
Mood & Memory Decline. Do you feel like you’re operating in a permanent brain fog and can’t for the life of you ever remember where you left your keys? You may need to look at your gut health! Your gut produces neurotransmitters – messengers that communicate from the gut to the brain. Neurotransmitters control mood, concentration, and memory. The majority of serotonin and about half of your dopamine is actually produced in your gut. Labeled as our “happy hormones,” seratonin and dopamine play a critical role in communicating emotions and controlling our reaction to the potential stressors of our immediate environment. Try starting your day with a better breakfast. Skip the sugary drive-thru latte and opt for a herbal tea. Pair that with 1/2 avocado and 2 hard boiled eggs on the go! This will start the process of balancing the gut microbiome to boost brain power.
Skin Breakouts / Acne. Dealing with odd skin breakouts or rashes that you’ve tried literally every topical treatment with no success? In many cases, eczema, psoriasis, acne and other inflammatory skin problems, have connections to poor gut health and food sensitivities. Skin is the largest organ on your body – so it is always a direct outward reflection of how things are going internally. If you are eating foods that your gut is not digesting & absorbing properly, then it will show up on your skin. Take a look at scaling back or eliminating some of the most common food sensitivity offenders – like gluten, dairy, eggs, and corn – for a week or two to see if skin issues subside. If so, consider using that food group sparingly in your every day food choices.
Chronic Illness or Poor Immunity. Did you know a whooping 80% of your immune system lies in your gut? No wonder food is such a powerful regulator of our overall health! If our gut bacteria is full of sugar-feeders, and we continuously eat foods that make us feel terrible, our gut is subject to major collateral damage. We develop a condition known as “leaky gut” where food particles are allowed to leak into the bloodstream and cause an immune response, leaving us vulnerable to any little germ or bug that makes it’s way in. Over time, this can lead to larger autoimmune issues, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or Hashimotos.
If you found yourself with one (or all!) of the sneaky symptoms listed above, rest assured that there are some simple steps we can take today to get our gut in check.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods and include plenty of high-fiber vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins in your diet. Fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha also contain beneficial bacteria.
- Identify & eliminate your specific food triggers to allow your gut to heal.
- Exercise daily. The more physically fit you are, the more diverse your microbiome is.
- Avoid excessive antibiotic use.
- Decrease or eliminate alcohol use.
- Consider supplements like a probiotic, glutamine, and zinc to get your gut back into balance. However, know that no supplement replaces a fiber-rich diet!
It is our job to listen and interpret the report in order to make the proper adjustments to our nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle. Many of us are so busy hustling through our daily to-do lists that we neglect to check our body’s daily memo – and we end up ignoring some of these vital alerts. Need help deciphering your body’s daily report? Struggling to develop a follow a nutrition and lifestyle plan that actually gets you results? Schedule your complimentary virtual coaching consult today at https://thelodownonfitness.com/coaching-services/
Always listen to your gut. It won’t steer you wrong!