Kirstin Schell RHN

How the digestive system impacts your health

Optimize your gut health with these tips
2 min
Gut health – a popular term, but what does it really mean? It can allude to different things, but in general, it refers to your digestive system and its functionality.

The digestive system is made up of a number of organs that work together to change the food you consume into energy and nutrients, and plays a large role in your overall health.

Often referred to as your body’s ‘second brain,’ there are millions of neurons that line the gut and release chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. When gut health isn’t optimal the neurotransmitters won’t work to the best of their ability, causing your health to suffer in various ways.

For instance, serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy, is found in highest concentration in the gut. When the gut is not functioning properly, the neurotransmitter won’t be able to fire off serotonin to your brain, which can impact mood and mental health.

In addition to impacts on your mental wellness below are common symptoms that may be linked to poor gut health:
    • Chronic bloating
    • Chronic gas
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Stomach pain
    • Weak immune system
    • Allergies
    • Skin conditions such as eczema
Through testing, it’s possible to identify what issues your digestive system might be having. When the issue is determined you can take the proper course of action and adjust your nutrition and supplement intake accordingly, which will work to make any necessary repairs. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms visit your doctor or nutritionist to discuss what the problem may be.

In order to keep your overall gut health in tip top shape here are a few things you can try:
    • Chew slowly and completely, this can make a major impact on digestion by breaking down food so it’s easier to digest
    • Determine if you have any food allergies or sensitivities that are negatively impacting your health
    • Ensure you are properly hydrated by drinking enough water
    • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and very spicy foods if they affect your digestion, instead opt for water and fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha and pickles
    • Avoid processed foods as much as possible, opt for seasonal, organic foods that hydrate
    • Increase your fiber intake as it improves regularity, it can also help create an environment for healthy gut bacteria
For more information on gut health and recipes that promote a healthy digestive system visit the GoodLife Fitness YouTube channel.

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