Ways To Improve Your Gut Health With Functional Medicine
There are many people out there who don't fully understand the importance of gut health.
Your gut is one of the most important organs in your body, as it does not only play a key role in the digestion and absorption of nutrients but is also responsible for keeping your immunity in good shape.
From most obvious gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating to mental health issues, autoimmune issues gut health profoundly impacts many conditions in our body.
For this reason, improving your gut health is given high priority in functional medicine treatment for many disorders.
In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of gut health and various ways to improve your gut health with Functional Medicine.
What is gut & why is it important
The gut is nothing but the gastrointestinal tract that includes all parts of our intestines, from mouth to anus.
It has two main functions:
- First, it extracts nutrients and water from food for easy digestion
- Second process waste matter before excretion.
But the gut has other important functions which are mediated through trillions of organisms that live in the gut. These organisms are together called the microbiome of our gut.
These gut microbes have a potentially high impact on our overall health like:
- Gut microbes aids in food movement within the GI tract
- Gut microbes are important for nutrient absorption including B and K vitamins, calcium, iron, and zinc.
- The healthy gut bacteria also produce short-chain fatty acids like butyrate that nourish the cells in our colon while reducing inflammation, which helps prevent colorectal cancer.
- These microbes have a great influence on the immune system. Maintaining a healthy gut flora is key to having balanced immunity and avoiding autoimmune diseases like lupus, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, Crohn's Disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Apart from maintaining the health of the gut, gut microbes also affect how other organs & tissues work. This is said to be due to its impact on the central nervous system.
Consequently, when there's an imbalance in this gut microbiome (the population of the microbes), you're more likely to suffer from inflammation or leaky gut syndrome.
This in turn could lead to other problems such as chronic fatigue, autoimmune issues, allergies, skin disorders like acne and eczema, etc.
What causes gut problems?
When there is a disruption in the gut microbiome, gut health is highly affected. But the real question is - what disrupts this gut microbiome?
There can be various reasons why your gut microbiome is affected including -
- Modern-day processed foods
- Improper sleep
- Few medications like antibiotics, steroids etc.
- Other chronic infections
With these said, it's evident that making few dietary & lifestyle changes can help improve your gut health phenomenally.
The Functional Medicine approach does exactly that. The root cause of why your gut problems occur is identified. Then treatment is given according to that.
Ways to Improve your gut health with Functional Medicine
With Functional Medicine treatment, your problems are carefully noted down & analyzed. Appropriate functional tests are taken to determine what's wrong with your body. Depending on the test results, the treatment plan will be devised, exclusively for you.
Through functional medicine, we are able to do advanced gut testing. These advanced gut tests help us to evaluate various things like digestion, absorption, infection, inflammation, microbiome health, parasites, and also candida, and also for leaky gut and SIBO.
After in-depth testing of your gut, we know where exactly the problem is, and then we can make a comprehensive natural plan to fix it.
With this holistic approach, you'll also have a better understanding of what is wrong with your gut health. This will also provide you with more options for treatment, as opposed to conventional medicine only having one option.
Here are a few ways to improve your gut health with Functional Medicine.
With Functional Medicine, your present diet is analyzed. Your food allergies, sensitivities & other dietary problems are identified. Depending on this, a dietary plan will be advised by your functional medicine doctor.
Dietary changes may include eliminating bad food, replacing it with good food & providing supplements if needed.
Some more common dietary changes that have been proven to improve gut health for many are as follows.
Gluten causes inflammation in the gut, which is irritating and can lead to a leaky gut.
Gluten also causes intestinal permeability (anti-nutrients) that make it through the gut barrier resulting in an increased immune response against them.
Research indicates that those who are not intolerant of gluten may still have a sensitivity or be allergic if they experience poor digestion following consumption without any other gastrointestinal problems. This is because there's an intolerance of wheat proteins as opposed to eating gluten per se.
So, it's recommended to exclude gluten from your diet for a certain period of time. And check if your gut symptoms improve.
Avoid processed food
Processed food has a high amount of sugar, salt, and preservatives that can have a negative effect on gut health.
The additives in these foods often cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome causing gut problems.
The best thing to do when it comes to processed foods is to cook at home from fresh ingredients because this eliminates any harmful additives such as sugars and GMOs from being added into your diet.
Include prebiotic & probiotic foods
Prebiotics & probiotics play a crucial role in maintaining proper gut health.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut.
Probiotics are live microorganisms found in fermented food products, such as kimchi and yogurt, which improve intestinal health by balancing gut microbiota levels.
The most effective way to maintain proper gut balance is to eat a plant-based diet with lots of prebiotic & probiotic foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans), whole grains (quinoa), etc...
Take a look at this article on prebiotics & probiotics for more details on this topic.
Start slowly introducing new foods into your diet while you're following this plan so that you can gauge how they affect your digestive system.
Take a high-fiber diet
Dietary fibers are highly important for a healthy gut as the fibers can help gut bacteria thrive.
Some of the foods that are rich in fiber content include most fruits like strawberries, apples, avocados, etc.., vegetables like carrots, broccoli, beets, green leafy vegetables, Lentils, legumes & gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, millets, etc...
However, too much fiber - which is often rare - can cause issues like gas, bloating & intestinal blockages.
Take proper supplements
Oftentimes, even on following a healthy diet, nutrient deficiency occurs. This is mostly due to industrialized agriculture causing depletion of nutrients in most foods.
Hence, getting the proper dosage of required vitamins & minerals is difficult. This is why supplements are necessary at most times.
The most commonly overlooked supplement for gut health is prebiotics, probiotics, Licorice & L-glutamine.
Depending on the problem you have with your gut, these supplements will be prescribed by your functional medicine doctor to avoid the side effects of taking too much of these.
Get Proper Sleep
Sleep deprivation has always been associated with weight gain. The primary reason behind this is that lack of sleep disrupts the balance of gut microbes.
Poor sleep also increases inflammation levels leading to chronic pain. It causes hormonal disruption resulting in digestive problems such as IBS among other issues. This occurs because it affects the production of serotonin – a hormone responsible for regulating gut function.
Fortunately, according to studies chronic sleep loss can be reversed in three days with just eight hours' worth of deep sleep every night! So if you are having gut trouble it is time for a little nap.
Manage Stress to improve gut health
Nowadays, stress has become a major issue affecting gut health. There are many reasons for this such as our fast-paced lifestyles and the use of technology which have all contributed to increased anxiety levels.
The first thing you need to do is indulge in some self-care techniques like meditation or yoga.
Studies show that they can help improve gut health by reducing inflammation, improving digestive function, increasing serotonin production & so on.
It is evident that a healthy gut is important for a healthier life. Most gut problems can be treated with ease & perfection when the root cause is understood. With Functional Medicine, the underlying issues or allergies will be treated aiding your gut to heal completely. It includes both conventional treatments along with complementary therapies that promote the healing process to improve your overall quality of life.
If you have gut issues like IBS, SIBO, IBD, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and you don't know how to fix them. Then you can work with Dr. Gupta through online consultation and get your life back. Please use the link below for a free 15-minute evaluation call with Dr. Gupta.
Now you can get virtual functional medicine consultation from anywhere in the country, especially if you live in Houston, Toledo, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, NEW YORK & Miami. Please click below to get started with a 15-minute free evaluation call with Dr. Gupta.