Not long ago, I published a blog that showcased the digestive system as the body’s second brain.
Throughout that post, I shared some of the incredible things our digestive system is capable of doing such as…
- Controlling our emotions (depression/anxiety).
- Protecting us from getting sick (immune health).
- Preventing chronic diseases (diabetes, acid reflux, autoimmune diseases, etc.).
If you missed it, I suggest you take some time after reading this article to check it out.
While the article above is a great read, I realized I needed to create a “part 2” that gives people a deeper look into the mechanics of why we need to keep our “second brain” healthy.
It only makes sense that, once you realize how important the gut system is, you’d want to learn how it works and why it needs to be taken care of.
So today, we’re going to do just that.
Keep reading to take a walk through the gut system and get a better understanding of why it’s vital to keep your digestive system healthy so your body also stays in good health.
Important Gut System Facts
Before we dive into the mechanics of the digestive system, I think it’s key to highlight a few facts about the digestive system that will give you a better picture as to why it’s so important.
First of all, it’s common knowledge that our digestive system is what converts the food and water we consume into nutrients we need to thrive.
Clearly, if your gut system is unhealthy, it’s much harder for your body to absorb the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function properly.
Next, the gut is the body’s second brain and produces 3/4 of all neurotransmitters, which are mostly directed by probiotic organisms.
When there’s an imbalance in your gut, your body will struggle to send chemical messages via your neurotransmitters.
And the last big thing I want to mention is that your digestive system contains 2/3 of your body’s immune system tissue.
If your gut isn’t healthy, you’re at a much higher risk for getting sick.
Digestive System Walk-Through: Step 1 – The Brain
Believe it or not, the digestive process begins in your brain.
Once you begin to chew food, a signal is sent to the brain to release saliva. Once the saliva is released, the stomach releases hydrochloric acid which helps break down the food in your stomach.
During this process, bile and pancreatic enzymes are added in the small intestine and nutrient absorption begins in the folds of your small intestine.
Digestive System Walk-Through: Step 2 – Small Intestine
The muscular layer of intestine is what moves food along the length of the intestines, starting with the small intestine.
Your small intestine has a layer known as the submucosa, which is where the blood vessels as well as the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) reside.
In the interior of the intestines are folds that have little finger-like knobs called villi.
Villi are made up of thousands of microvilli, which provide a huge surface area to absorb nutrients.
The average adult’s small intestine measures 20 feet long! That’s a huge area!
Digestive System Walk Through: Step 3 – Large Intestine
The majority of nutrient absorption takes place in the small intestine.
Therefore, the job of the large intestine is primarily to absorb water and collect indigestible fiber so it can be excreted as waste.
Digestive System Walk-Through: Step 4 – Waste
Anything that is considered “unusable” by the gut system is passed through the body as waste.
How Food and Medication Intake Can Disrupt Healthy Gut Function
Both your diet and medication intake can play a huge role in how healthy your gut system is.
Here’s an overview as to why…
- High carbohydrate diets and medication intake disrupt step 1 and step 2 in the digestive process by reducing stomach acid production. Less stomach acid means more poorly digested materials will pass through your gut system.
- Once steps 1 and 2 are disrupted, it’s easy for your digestive system to suffer from…
- Abnormal levels of gut flora
- An imbalance of good bacteria
- The issues above are directly linked to causing the following health problems…
- Food sensitivities
- Damaged immune system
- Heightened autoimmune response
Without any change to diet or medication intake, these problems (like inflammation and bacteria imbalances) become a vicious cycle.
If the cycle isn’t broken, you’re at risk of developing…
- Skin allergies
- Food sensitivities
- Kidney and liver problems
- Obesity/weight issues
- Acid reflux
- And more!
Digestive Health Recap: How to Regain Your Gut Health
I hope by now that it’s crystal clear how food and drugs directly impact your gut system.
It’s incredibly eye-opening to understand how our current lifestyle might be preventing us from living the healthy life we desire.
The bottom line is that you must take care of your body’s second brain. And the good news is that it’s not hard to do!
Anyone, regardless of your current health problems, age, weight, or lifestyle, can make changes to drastically improve gut health.
Here’s what I recommend…
It’s in the best interest of your gut system to get off as many medications as you possibly can.
You might be thinking, “I don’t have a choice about being on my medications.” But I’m here to tell you that that’s 100% untrue.
Many chronic illnesses that require daily medication (diabetes, acid reflux) can be slowed down or totally stopped in their tracks with lifestyle changes.
I advise you to talk with your current doctor to see what you can do to reduce your medication intake.
If your regular doctor doesn’t know how to help you, I recommend that you visit a naturopath who might be able to give you safer, more natural alternatives to most prescription drugs.
Warning: Don’t ever stop taking your medications without a doctor’s approval. Make it a point to schedule a doctor’s visit to discuss your options.
Changing your diet to improve your gut health is one of the best things you can do for your health.
I recommend you cut out as many processed, unnatural foods as you can out of your diet and work on consuming more leafy greens, fruits, and proteins.
Adding a probiotic into your daily routine is also a great way to replenish and nurture the good bacteria that you need in your gut for healthy digestion.
I personally recommend ProbioMax® Daily DF from Xymogen. Check it out here!
A few foods that are great for digestive health include…
- Cereal grains (whole wheat, barley, rye)
- Chicory root
While you’re working on improving your gut health, I recommend you check out my latest article on additional ways to treat yourself to better health this year!