Eighty percent of our population recognizes some disorder within the gastro-intestinal tract. Everything from esophageal reflux to food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome to inflammatory bowel diseases. We are a suffering population when it comes to gut health. You would think the medical community at large would really have an understanding of what this thing is. Not only what gut health is but how would you achieve it? How do you maintain it? How do you foster health in this space. It's fundamentally amazing that we don't have a good definition in the industry of what gut health is. So what I want to help you understand is this space within your body that is functioning and consider it as your organic garden so to speak. Your life cannot spring out of that soil in a healthy fashion without an understanding of this thing we call "gut health".
There are 3 elements of our gut. One is the microbiome which is an extraordinary mix of bacteria, fungi, and even parasites and viruses in the mix. This is an incredible space of eco-diversity and balance in a healthy gut. That system is not there just for nutrient delivery which is important, of course, but, it's also the front-line of your immune system. It
helps detox the environment around you and helps recognize the invaders or the "bad guys". Bacteria has a natural anti-viral component and natural anti-fungal components the fungi have natural bacterial properties. Each one of these properties check out each others role and niche' within this great eco-system of our gut. As we expose ourselves to chemicals in the environment in our food system, soil, air, water systems etc., we start to degrade this fundamental source of health, also known as the organic material in our gut. Gut health, however, can't stop there in our definition.
Next is the barrier system. The boundaries between the outside world and the human body are nowhere larger than this thing we call the "gut lining". It starts from your sinuses and travels down thru your esophagus and stomach to the small intestine and the colon. This extraordinary system is huge in its surface area. It actually stretches the length of two tennis courts! So, you and your relationship with the outside world is first defined and most defined by this barrier that we call the gut lining. In gut health, we have to consider this ground zero of dysfunction. As you degrade the quality of that gate keeper, you start to invite invasion and vulnerability of all kinds of compounds you wouldn't want in your body. These invaders consist of plastics, man made chemicals, etc. or even organic materials like toxins produced by fungi or large insoluble fibers in your food system. All of those should be kept out of the body. That being said, the second part of gut health is an intelligent barrier system in that lining.
Lastly, is the immune system itself. The body in its intelligence is designed such that 70% of our immune system and more than 80% of our antibodies are composed and located within the gut lining within one or two milliliters behind your intestinal barrier of epithelial cells lies the lymphatic tissue of the gut. We call that the gastro-intestinal associated lymphatic tissue or the "galt". This is where you identify that self-barrier. This would be considered your self-identity at the cellular level. So, the third portion of the gut health thing is your relationship between the outside world and the inside world in regard to your immune system's ability to recognize self and foreign material.
So, the three components of gut health are:
-Healthy Microbiome and Ecosystem
-An intelligent barrier system to absorb the correct things and keep out the bad
-An intelligent immune system that would always keep that definition of self versus invader in tact, such that it would prevent auto-immune disease and about who is self and who is foreign.
What are you doing to support the microbiome? Are you outdoors? Are you engaged in a healthy nutrition system? Are you really working to diversify your exposure in the food to fermented foods, to healthy sources of organic and pasture-raised food that haven't been stripped of their nutrients by certain agricultural practices? Are you willing to reduce the alcohol you drink, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, constipation drugs, and avoiding glyphosate and the other herbicides and pesticides that threaten that barrier system we call our gut.
Support the gut system with good sleep, good hydration, a good exercise regimen. These may be things you don't think about when you think of gut health. Gut health is not about taking ant-acids, it's not about probiotics that limit the diversity of your bowel flora. Gut health is really about engaging the greater nature and making sure you're supporting each of these three critical features: the microbiome, the barrier system, and your immune system. This is where you can start to change the human health and longevity for our health and our children's health for generations to come.