“The road to good health is paved with good intestines.”
Sherry A. Rodgers, M.D.
The gut is called by many “the second brain.” It is the gateway to brain and immune health. It is said that all disease begins in the gut.¹ Digestion actually begins in the brain, believe it or not. When you see, smell, or think of food your body begins to prepare the digestive organs to receive and process food.
Trillions of living organisms make up our frames. They live in our hair, on our skin, inside our noses, our mouths, feet–everywhere. The microorganisms living in our digestive tract are called Microflora or gut flora. Good bacteria or flora regulate the gut by neutralizing toxins, preventing harmful bacteria growth, control metabolism, absorb nutrients and energy, recycle hormones, train the immune system, and communicate with the brain.
Gut flora’s role in overall health has been researched more and more extensively. Bad bacteria growth has been found to be capable of producing infection or increasing cancer risk, overeating (woah!), metabolic damage (Thyroid issues, anyone?), insulin resistance (Blood Sugar issues-diabetes or hypoglycemia?), obesity and other weight disorders.
A typical, common, and acceptable modern diet in America–high in sugar, carbohydrates, preservatives, and additives–is the perfect breeding ground for overgrowth of bacteria that will kill of your healthy gut flora very quickly.² From my estimate, and others, undoubtedly, we have to be the most overfed and undernourished nation in the globe.
I want to touch on this ⬆️ point a bit more. I think of how rushed we are generally bent to as a people. Growing up I was a very active child and teenager. I was traveling every weekend playing softball across the country while playing for 2 or 3 separate softball teams at once, swimming competitively, working part-time, being involved in clubs and other activities, and going to school. I was non-stop and running from one practice or event to the next. I was far from stopping when I moved into my college and young adult years, continuing the only way I knew how to do life. I look back and wonder how in the world I did all that.
I know so many of you can relate. We are busy people, we value productivity in our culture. I didn’t realize the messages my body was sending me because I had ignored them for so long, even casting them off as weakness itself. There’s more to say here in relation to the effects of trauma, which I learned could effect the mind-body signals. Particularly with childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and repression, the injuring of the mental processes to protect the child physically, mentally, and emotionally. (You can read more of my story here.) But the mere fact that I wasn’t even mindfully preparing to eat to active digestion would effect my gut and entire health.
It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I came to a screeching halt. I had one continual sinus infection for a span of 10 years. I would finish an antibiotic and less than a week later, another infection. Try a stronger drug, and less than a week later, another infection.
My years were speckled with upper respiratory infections and pneumonia annually. I had severe fatigue and grogginess that no coffee, rest, sleep, or medical diagnosis could correct. I began experiencing stomach pain, bloating that made me look 6 months pregnant, constipation, blood in my stools and vomit, acid reflux, loss of bowel control, and more. And I was in my twenties! I was at a loss. No one could tell me what the heck was going or how to fix it. This is when I began to study and take active steps to heal my gut, and found out the results reached far beyond my stomach woes.
Pause Moment: What is your body telling you?
If you know your body is or has been speaking to you, sending you warning signals, as disease or distress, or you feel anxiety or mental fatigue or depression, note those. I’m telling you, there’s hope and that you don’t have to continue on this way. Our bodies have been endowed with amazing capabilities to heal, restore, and repair. There is nothing impossible. I have no doubt. I pray you are filled with that hope.
For those who want to foster health and keep disease at bay, what are some ways you can be proactive and preventative? Jot that down. Make it plain. How can you implement gut health and beyond? The gut-mental health connection is so dynamic and interconnected, interdependent.
I am an advocate for mental health, so it’s no far cry for me to be an advocate of gut health, the second brain. Your mental health may depend on your gut health, so I challenge you to invest in yourself, inadvertently to the ones you love and desire to impact and care for, by taking care of your gut.
So how? Stay tuned and find out.