In my articles, I like to address areas of health & wellness which are not only very important, but also very commonly overlooked in our society. One of these areas is gut health. The vast majority of new clients who come into my office have very poor gut health, and are (mostly) totally oblivious to the problem.
In order to understand why gut health is so important, we must first explore what the term means. Put simply, “gut health” refers to the quality and working condition of the digestive organs and their processes. Most people are aware that WHAT we eat is very important to our well-being, but it is our ability to properly digest and absorb the food we eat which is often overlooked.
In previous articles and posts, you may have seen me mention the benefits of fermented foods, and the importance of maintaining proper acidity levels in the stomach. In this article I will explain why these things are important, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain optimal gut health.
Make Sure Your Stomach Acid is Doing its Job!: When we eat a meal, food is masticated (chewed) before it is passed into the stomach. The stomach then uses a mixture of hydrochloric acid, bile, and various enzymes to break down our food and prepare it for absorption in the small intestine. But in many people, this process may not work properly due to overconsumption of carbonated drinks, processed foods & alcohol, as well as not sufficiently chewing their food. As a result, stomach acid can be neutralised, and in some cases even stop being produced altogether.
Low stomach acid levels can lead to a host of problems such as acid reflux, food intolerance, bloating, flatulence, acne, fat gain and more. It’s also important to note that the stomach acid plays an important role in immunity and keeping the body safe from infection, and weakened or under-produced stomach acid can lead to parasite infections, food poisoning and a host of other infectious diseases. If your stomach acid is strong like it should be, it will be able protect you from food-bourn illnesses and food poisoning. To use an example, this is how our distant ancestors were able to eat raw, often rotting meat without falling ill. In today’s world, most people would get very sick from eating even slightly spoiled meat.
Here are some tips to keep your stomach acid levels up to scratch:
- Ensure all food is chewed correctly. This prevents large chunks of unchewed food from sitting in the digestive tract and rotting, giving rise to harmful bacteria as well as reducing acid levels.
- Avoid drinking large volumes of fluid with meals. This can dilute the stomach acid to a lower concentration, having a negative effect on how well you digest and absorb your food.
- Minimise consumption of processed foods, carbonated drinks and alcohol. These foods and drinks can neutralise your stomach pH, which is bad news for your digestive function.
If you take the right steps towards ensuring your stomach acid is doing its job, not only will you have a better chance of avoiding illness and discomfort, but you’ll also have an easier time absorbing nutrients from the food you consume, which means greater vitality, muscle gain and fat loss!
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll talk about the benefit of fermented foods, the importance of gut bacteria, the huge role it plays in overall health, and how not taking care of it can seriously hold you back from achieving the body, health & happiness you want.