As a Registered Dietitian, teacher and nutrition counselor at Green Mountain at Fox Run, I talk with women all the time about their gut health. After many counseling sessions with amazing participants at Green Mountain and patients in my private practice, I’ve come to some conclusions about how gut health really impacts our lives. Here are the top five ways focusing on gut health can bring a big pay off, especially at work.
(For those who can’t wait to get to the bottom of things, here is a teaser: Join us this November for a special event at Green Mountain focusing on gut health.)
5 Ways Healing Your Gut Can Help You Get a Raise
1. Fewer Sick Days
The health of the digestive system is closely linked to the health of the immune system. The bacteria and yeast that live in the large intestine are called the “gut microbiome.” One of the jobs of the gut microbiome is to train immune cells to recognize foreign invaders while maintaining tolerance of our own cells. This is called “immune homeostasis.” When in balance, the beneficial bacteria and yeast communities help the immune system understand how to react appropriately to new stimuli including foreign bacteria and viruses. This means fewer colds and illnesses, which will keep you at work and feeling well.
The bacteria and yeast in the large intestine produce chemicals that help nerves talk with each other. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters, but they aren’t just found in the brain. Somewhat surprisingly, they are found in equal or greater amounts in the gut compared to the brain. Research shows that gut bacteria produce three of the major neurotransmitters that regulate mood–serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. When this colony of bacteria and yeast is in balance, we have more appropriate amounts of these mood-regulating chemicals. This leads to improved mood stability and more feelings of well-being. Getting your gut microbiome in balance can help you feel ready to tackle life’s stresses and handle whatever comes your way at work.
3. Better Concentration/Less Brain Fog
“My head feels fuzzy” or “I feel foggy” are common complaints from my clinical patients when talking about gut health. My practical experience shows me again and again– when a patient shows imbalances in the gut microbiome, they often report a frustrating lack of ability to focus and concentrate. Practical experience also shows that when my patients begin working to correct those imbalances, they report an improvement in their ability to focus. Basic gut support can help you feel more focused and let you fly through that to-do list.
4. Boost Confidence with Better Skin
If you’ve noticed an increase in hives, eczema, bumps or rashes that take you by surprise, you’re not alone. Many people struggling with gut health report red, itchy, dry, bumpy or irritated patches with no understandable cause. At the root of this is often the interaction between the gut bacteria, the immune system, and the health of the lining of the gut. The lining of the gut is made up of specialized cells that have a very important and complicated job- they need to sense when and how to absorb food particles traveling through our digestive tract. To do their job well, these cells need to be plump, healthy, and laying closely next to one another. If these cells become irritated and damaged by toxins, irritants, and stress, then spaces can open up between them. When spaces open up, large food particles and chemicals that were never supposed to leave the intestines get absorbed into the bloodstream. Often called “leaky gut”, this increased gut permeability can be a trigger for autoimmune reactions throughout the body. These reactions often include skin irritations and breakouts of eczema, hives or a rash. When you support your gut, you can see an improvement in many systems, including your skin. Spend less time worrying about your skin, and more time confidently schmoozing those customers. Let that radiant good health shine through.
5. Less Time in the Bathroom Due to Digestive Upset
Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, reflux, and indigestion are all common symptoms of digestive upset that can have us reaching for the tums or running to the bathroom multiple times daily. If you’ve read this far, you’re familiar with two elements of gut health: the health of the microbiome and the health of the cells that line the gut. The third element is the health of the nerves that serve the gut. Officially called the enteric nervous system, the system of nerves that serve the gut are also called “the brain in the belly” or the “second brain.” All three of these elements of gut health play a role in the presence or absence of digestive symptoms. Supporting the health of your gut can help you spend less time in the bathroom and more time getting through that stack of paperwork.
So, What Have We Learned About Gut Health?
The health of the gut can have some pretty immediate impacts on how we function day-to-day. A stronger immune system, more balanced and resilient mood, better concentration and ability to focus, more confidence in our appearance and less distraction from painful digestive upsets are pretty powerful incentives to pay attention to what our gut needs.
Next Steps for a Healthy Gut
“How on earth can I get these results?” you ask. Well, I’m pleased to report that there are many basic things you can do yourself in your daily life that will help create a stronger gut.
Here is just a small sample of those things:
- Slow down and chew your food
- Eat probiotic-rich foods
- Manage constipation naturally with minerals and food choices
- Manage stress and breathe from your belly
- Eat regular meals in a calm, pleasant environment
This list just scratches the surface. There are many ways to build a stronger and healthier gut.
Interested in Learning More About Gut Health?
Join us this November 4-10, 2018 for Gut Health Theme Week at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
The Gut Health Theme Week is the perfect setting to dive more deeply into this fascinating and important topic.
- We’re offering a series of special classes focusing on the foundations of gut health and the microbiome; the gut-brain connection; and nourishing your gut.
- We will provide a cooking demonstration on gut supporting foods and recipes for the participants to take home.
- Dana, our other Registered Dietitian, and I will be available for specialized one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions to help you take all you’ve learned and apply it to your specific gut health issues.
- Plus, you get all of the fabulous Green Mountain core classes on eating, moving, and living.
The week will be full of practical strategies you can bring home to build better gut health one day at a time.
We hope to see you there!
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MIttal, R et al. 2017. Neurotransmitters: The Critical Modulators Regulating the Gut Brain Axis. J Cell Physiol. 232(9): 2359–2372. doi:10.1002/jcp.25518.
Sampson, T and S Mazmanian. 2015. Control of Brain Development, Function and Behavior by the Microbiome. Cell Host and Microbe Review 17: 565-576
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Yarandi, S et al. 2016. Modulatory Effects of Gut Microbiota on the Central Nervous System: How Gut Could Play a Role in Neuropsychiatric Health and Disease. (2016) Journal of Neurogastroeneterology and Motility 22 (2):201-212