Archive for the ‘Gut Health’ Category

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

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Intermittent fasting has become very popular recently, and it is simply when you eat for a certain  period of time during the day and fast for the of remaining time of the day. The most common way of practicing this is the 16:8 ration, which is eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours. However, there are many other ways and variations to practice intermittent fasting. It is up to you to choose the time period that is most convenient to fast and to eat. Although intermittent fasting is often thought of as a way to lose weight, it isn’t always the case. Intermittent fasting is an eating habit, and a common misconception is that if you fast you can eat whatever you want during your eating window. Like any other eating pattern, you should opt for healthy eating habits. The following are a few other health benefits of intermittent fasting:

  1. Reduces inflammation. Fasting causes autophagy, which is when the body gets rid of damaged or old cells, helping the body cleanse it self, thus reducing inflammation. Intermittent fasting also causes your body to use up all of its sugar stores, and then forcing it to turn to fat as fuel. When fat is used as fuel, it creates ketones which block part of the immune system responsible for regulating inflammatory disorders.
  2. Insulin levels drop. This makes it easier for your body to burn fat
  3. Creates brain cells. Studies have shown that fasting stimulates and increases the rate of neurogenesis in the brain, which is the development and growth of new cell/nerve tissue. This may increase brain performance, focus, mood, and memory.
  4. Gives you energy. Intermittent fasting increases the creation of new mitochondria. Since mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cells in your body that take the food you consume and turn it into energy, the creation of new ones will boost your energy.


The Importance of Gut Health

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illustration-fruits-vegetables-grains_0What is considered as “The Gut?”

It is typically considered your digestive tract – which includes a muscular tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your anus.  The food and drink journey is about 30 feet long and works with other parts of your digestive system to break down food and drink down into smaller molecules of nutrients. The blood absorbs these and carries them throughout the body for cells to use for energy, growth, and repair.

Why your Gut is Important

The gut is referred to as the “second brain” a lot because of its many important functions in the body. It is responsible for the immune system, digestive system, how well your body absorbs minerals/vitamins, capacity to remove toxins from your body, and well-being of your mental health.

Many are surprised to find out gut health can affect mood, and mental health.  Hence it is important to maintain a healthy gut.

The Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is what lines the gastrointestinal tracts, and this is important because the ENS is not only responsible for the immune system, but also for communicating with the brain regarding the body’s gut. There are certain types of bacteria that are helpful for your gut and types that are harmful, and when there is an imbalance of these, it damages the mucosal layer in your gut. In turn this leaves you susceptible for the food you consume to enter your bloodstream, thus triggering your immune system, and causing food sensitivity, inflammation, and other symptoms. The ENS also sends messages to your Central Nervous System (CNS), which can affect mood, memory and cognitive function. Lastly, most of the body’s serotonin is cultivated by a certain bacteria in the gut, which can also affect your mood.

Ways to Heal your Gut

There are a few things you can do to heal your gut naturally. First you need to figure out what is damaging your gut, like food sensitivity, too much consumption of processed fatty foods, or if you’ve taken antibiotics recently as these are damaging to the gut. You should also make sure you are getting enough prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are helpful bacteria for your gut and prebiotics induce the growth of these helpful bacteria. Good sources of probiotics are kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir. Prebiotics can be found in bananas, onion, garlics, jicama, and oats. If you believe you have a leaky gut, or any other type of gut issue speak to a physician first.