I spent 21 years of my life in the dark – having absolutely no clue how to take control of my health and be behind the reigns in my body.
Perhaps you feel that no matter what you try, you just can’t find that permanent health train to ride?
As my high schoolers would say (in a high pitch tone) – “samesies…”
I feel you.
And you know how I ended up finding the light at the end of the tunnel?
I ended up in a hospital bed. Isn’t that terrible? That in order to truly understand my health, it had to get to THAT point – and then after, there was no quick fix medication prescribed.
Nope, it took me YEARS of digging. Reading, google searching, experimenting on my own dang body.
But here we are with something I have always wanted to provide to everyone else upon finding the solution – a speedy one stop shop resource with everything I have learned (the HARD way!).
(My mother did always say that was how I learned best…)
So stick with me and we’re going to get to the core of your core – and take out 2 birds with one stone. (I think that’s how the saying goes? Pretty graphic, but you catch my drift…)
What is Gut Health?
Our gut – a fancy term to describe the part of your digestive tract consisting of your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine – regulates SO many of our body’s functions.
For a quick snapshot, here’s a list of everything your gut regulates in the body:
➪ Healthy Digestion
➪ Weight Management (and weight loss)
➪ Skin Health
➪ Nutrient Absorption
➪ Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels
➪ Brain Clarity and Mental Health
➪ Hunger and Appetite
➪ Bloating and Inflammation
➪ Chronic Illness
So, you can see how this one simple thing is by far THE one thing you want on your side.
By restoring your gut health, your body begins to reap incredible benefits from each of the bulleted categories above.
Warning Signs Your Gut Is Unhealthy
Our body communicates to us, and it’s up to us to listen. See, when we don’t feel well, or something is “off” in our bodies, it’s actually a sign.
A warning sign with big red flashing lights – typically coming from your gut going “HEY! REMEMBER ME?” And begging for kindness to be bestowed.
So here are the top warning signs (and you’ll notice they span to several different realms of the body, but if you recall – our gut controls our entire functioning.)
☐ Low energy and exhaustion
☐ Have trouble sleeping
☐ Get sick often
☐ Experiencing stress in your daily life
☐ Crave sugar regularly
☐ Unintentional weight changes
☐ Acne and skin conditions
☐ Have food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities
☐ Experience moodiness
☐ Often feel anxious and/or depressed
☐ Experience brain fog
☐ Eat a diet high in processed foods
☐ Cannot seem to lose weight (no matter how hard you try)
☐ Struggle with having and/or maintaining high energy levels
☐ Experience oily skin or any form of skin condition
☐ Rely on coffee or caffeinated beverages to keep you energized
☐ Often feel tired and fatigued
☐ Experience muscle pain
☐ Experience joint pain
☐ Have recurring headaches
☐ Suffer from leaky gut
☐ Bloat after eating meals
☐ Feel inflamed (or “puffy”)
☐ Have sinus problems
☐ Struggle with gas (too much or not a healthy amount)
☐ Experience heartburn
☐ Suffer from acid reflux
☐ Have chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating
☐ Suffer from eczema
☐ Experience acne
☐ Diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or experience similar symptoms
☐ Often experience canker sores (aka “cold sores”)
☐ Have the appearance of dark circles beneath your eyes
☐ Easily retain water weight
☐ Experience bad breath
☐ Have a sensitive stomach
☐ Just feel plain “BLEH!” knowing you deserve better (hint: YOU DO!)
How Are Gut Health and Sleep Interconnected?
Have you ever been told not to eat sweets before bed?
I had always thought this was my parent’s ole’ ploy to not have us wound up before bed, but turns out – it’s actually science.
Our gut is connected to our sleep rhythms because our gut controls what happens in our brain. And our brain controls our sleep.
(If you’re interested to know more about your Gut Health and Mental Health, I’ve got you: HERE!)
So while the gut plays a vast amount of roles in our body, we typically only associate it with digestion, bloating, gas, weight gain, and intestinal related issues.
But truth – our gut is SO much more than that. Our gut is our “second brain” because of how much neural tissue is found within our intestines.
Seriously, the gut contains 100 million neurons that transmit messages to our brains!
That blows my mind (no pun intended haha!).
Sleep and Serotonin
I struggled to sleep A LOT in college, and my anxiety levels were through the roof.
But this was also the time when my gut health was the worst it has ever been. (To read more about my personal journey from hospitals to health, check out my bio HERE!)
And this was all due to the connection to the production of serotonin – the “happiness” hormone that 95% of gets produced in the gut.
See, serotonin levels vary based on a variety of factors, including diet, exercise, and even natural light.
But for sleep, serotonin works to produce melatonin, the true sleep hormone that allows your body to achieve proper REM cycles and re-energize your body efficiently!
And our gut holds 400 times the quantity of melatonin than our brain – proving once again how strong of a grasp our guts have over our sleeping abilities.
Gut Health, Thriving Microbiomes, and Circadian Rhythms - Oh My!
Serotonin levels are not the only connection that the gut and brain share interconnectedly.
They actually share a large vessel known as the vagus nerve – sending impluses FROM the gut TO the brain.
It’s important to note that the control center here is the gut itself – not the brain.
And the gut has its own circadian rhythm. It gives “dancing to the beat of your own drum” a second meaning, because the gut truly does have a cycle that it follows that is completely separate from the body’s natural sleep rhythms.
How to Restore Gut Health Quickly!
Since your gut health is controlled by the bacteria (good or bad) in your digestive tract, you want to fill your system with healthy, beneficial gut microbes.
And the bacteria that exists desires its own company, meaning:
- Good gut bacteria crave other good gut bacteria
- Bad gut bacteria crave other bad gut bacteria
It really is a case of good versus evil, here.
And we really need the good bacteria to win, so what we do is fill our diets and daily routines with ways to improve these healthy gut bacteria.
So while diet is the main center of focus (since gut microbes come from the health of our foods), here are other ways to improve your digestive health:
- Consume healthy, wholesome, real ingredients
- Stay hydrated
- Maximize nutrient absorption
- Choose the right probiotic for you
- Reduce stress levels
- Get enough rest
- Perform gentle exercises
I make all of this easy, peezy, lemon-detoxing squeezy in my 21 Day Gut Health Challenge, where I’ll walk you through exactly how to design a sustainable, craveable lifestyle that not only you, but your gut bacteria, will love.
If you’re interested, be sure to check out the challenge HERE!