Gut health. Gut health. Gut health.
I think it's safe for me to say that this is my favorite current health topic. Not only is this topic hot right now but also, through research I've learned just how important it is to take care of our bodies from the inside out. This often starts with our gut. Ever heard of the term "leaky gut"? Turns out nearly 80% of the population is "leaky". What's worse? Every day more and more evidence is published eluding to the fact that our "leakiness" may be linked to some pretty serious health issues ranging from acne and allergies to autoimmune diseases such as M.S. and rheumatoid arthritis.
As much as I would love to talk your ear off about leaky gut, we need to form an understanding of my second favorite health topic: inflammation.
More of a listener? Here's the full video I previewed on Instagram @mnmlmon:
tiny shards of glass
Think back to a time when you got a tiny shard of glass or a splinter in the tip of your finger. You can barely see that thing but man, does it hurt. It isn't long before that area of your fingertip becomes red, puffy, and hot. Every time you go to use that finger, you are painfully reminded of that invisible intruder in your fingertip.
This is our body's acute inflammatory response. That shard of glass is a foreign object that does not belong inside of us. Your body does everything it can to protect itself and eventually, that foreign object is rejected from our body. A few days later, you wake up and your finger doesn't hurt any more--no big deal.
But what happens when this sort of inflammatory response happens internally? Before we get into this, we need to pause for a quick anatomy lesson:
- Our skin is made up of several layers of cells to protect us--places like our fingertips and soles of our feet have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of layers of cells.
- Our gut, or digestive tract, is made up of many structures but for right now we are going to talk mainly about the stomach and the intestines.
- Our gut is protected by other structures in our body and therefore, the internal lining of these structures is very thin--we're talking one cell layer thick.
Okay, class dismissed. Back to inflammation.
For the purposes of this post, we are putting food into two categories: real and fake. To keep things simple, real food is things like fruits, veggies, berries, and whole grains. Fake food is anything that is processed and not natural such as cereals, sodas, energy drinks, fast food, snack/protein bars, frozen dinners, etc. Think of these fakes foods as little shards of glass, except instead of one on the thick pad of our finger we now have 10,000 of them attacking our delicate gut lining--all day, every day. Not cool.
Enter leaky gut. We will dig wayyy deeper into the topic of leaky gut, but for now I need you to understand a little more about inflammation.
Your inflammatory response
These "little shards of glass" cause our bodies to freak out. Think of it this way--would your car run if you filled the gas tank with jet fuel? Of course not. We can't expect our body to run well if we are filling it with foods it considers "fake".
As the lining of our gut becomes more and more damaged, our body sends us all sorts of signals. Some of the most common signals are bloating, gas, and acne. What most of us don't know is that inflammation can also show up in some ways you might not think of: hair loss, joint paint, rashes, itchy/red eyes, allergies, fatigue, trouble concentrating, headaches, and trouble sleeping are all signs of inflammation.
Just because something is labeled as healthy does not mean that it won't cause some level of inflammation in you. Your gut might need some time to adjust to healthy foods you are introducing. Your body may also be able to handle certain amount of fruits and veggies that are high in fiber. Just be mindful of this and slowly increase your intake.
Personally, I've learned that when I indulge in too much added sugar or alcohol I immediately get a big zit somewhere on my face. When I eat crappy, processed foods--I wake up feeling like I have a hangover the next day. And if I eat too much broccoli, I feel bloated for what feels like a week. When you start paying closer attention to some of these signals, you may realize that things you just started to accept about yourself might be rooted in your diet.
Here's the best part: you have total control over your diet. This is truly powerful.
Ready for some research?
In 2010, the University of South Carolina evaluated inflammatory markers in healthy adults. In this double blind, placebo controlled study, participants who received either the JP+ Trio or the JP+ duo showed significantly reduced levels of inflammatory markers and significantly increased micronutrient and antioxidant levels when compared to the placebo group.
I shared on Monday that I think a lot of us can relate to the feeling of needing to get back "on track" at the start of a new week. As humans, we are motivated by a fresh start whether it be a new week, month, or year (hello New Year's resolutions). I found a system to follow that gives me a sometimes much needed push in the right direction. Do you need this too? Ask me about our first ever #MNML Shred10 group! Learn habits that will help you define what "on track" means to you. Send a message to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to get more info.
On Friday, I'll be sharing a list of inflammatory foods that you might want to decrease in your day to day life. Don't worry though, this list will also include many foods with anti-inflammatory properties to help start healing any internal damage.
That's all for now, stay smpl.