We all eat to survive, in our youth we can choose whatever we fancy and feel very little ill effects. Somewhere along the way subtle changes happen and we accept these as a normal part of digestion.
We don’t know any better. We may accept being flatulent as a hilarious part of our personality and use it to prank our friends. We may think that unbuttoning our jeans after a meal is a sign of being full. We may think that loud belching is a compliment to the chef.
Chances are, that somewhere along the way, or gut environment has changed to be less than optimal.
If you are thinking, my gut is fantastic! Keep on reading for some sneakier ways that our bodies communicate that our gut health is less than shiny.
Gut alert 1
You have hay fever.
Your immune system is affected by what you eat. If your gut is struggling with repeated insults from food that you are reacting badly too, it invites the immune system to get involved to help it neutralize the offending substance. The gap junctions between the gut cells open to allow the immune particles to enter and beat down the allergen. This action creates a “leaky gut”. The way that the body opens these gap junctions is using a substance called histamine, it promotes lots of fluid and swelling so that the immune system can flood an area with its “clean up” cells. Humans only have so much of the enzyme that degrades histamine, if you are a little bit lacking in that enzyme (DAO) then you will notice all the excess histamine symptoms. Classically they are, runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, itchy skin or inner ears or roof of mouth … sounding familiar?
Gut alert 2
You crave sugar
Our gut is filled with bacteria (charming thought I know). These little guys are symbiotic with us and can have some great health benefits when they are in balance. Certain groups of bacteria grow in accordance to the type of food you are consuming. If you eat plenty of fibrous, varied vegetables then you feed the “good” bacteria and you start to crave more of the fibrous varied vegetables. This works because the bigger the colony of bacteria, the stronger it can communicate with your brain. However. If you are eating a diet that is full of refined carbohydrates, the candida albicans yeast can grow in place of the beneficial bacteria. When in tiny amounts, this yeast is a normal part of a balanced gut. When it is fed its favorite substance, it demands all of the sweet things! It can also contribute to the development of thrush, disbiosis and a host of other issues.
Gut alert 3
You belch after eating
Complements to the chef? Possibly. Sometimes when you inhale your food rapidly, you swallow lots of air and this can lead to belching as the food settles. If you are a slow eater (extreme like) and still find yourself burping after meals then you might be dealing with an insufficient level of gastric acid. This is a problem as to get the most nutrients out of your food you need to have the right level of gastrin to break it down. The larger particles that your gut must deal with equals the more likelihood of it getting a bit reactive and irritated.
Gut alert 4
You must nap at 3pm!
If your diet is wholefood based, you get a good night’s sleep and you don’t go hard on the alcohol or stimulants, you might be entirely baffled by the afternoon slump. Did you know that if you eat a food that you have an intolerance to, it acts like a stressor to your body? The presence of an irritant in the gut stimulates both the immune system and your natural sympathetic nervous system to engage. When the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, a stress hormone called cortisol is released. This hormone is part of the “fight or flight “response and as such promotes the secretion of stored sugars into our blood stream so we can run like the clappers. If we don’t run about and use up this energy, insulin is released and chases the sugars back into the cell for storage. Insulin is released directly in proportion to the volume of sugar hitting our blood stream, so if it’s a quick spike then larger amounts of insulin flood our system (getting a little over zealous and lowering our blood sugar rapidly). When this happens, we hit the tired zone and start hankering after a little snooze (or coffee or cake).
Gut alert 5
Your mental health is not shiny
We’ve all heard about having “gut feelings”. This phenomenon has now been validated by science. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is essential for feeling good is now known to be produced by gut bacteria. In fact, about 90% of the serotonin in the body is produced by these interacting with our cells. If your gut bacteria are unbalanced then they may be struggling to perform on this level, having direct repercussions on your mental health.
If any of the above apply to you, it’s heartening to know that they can be resolved with the right information and approach. Gut health is a personal mission of mine, having experienced the various repercussions of dysregulation for years without realizing what was going on!
If you want to know how I can support you through returning your gut to a happy place then feel free to get in contact, even if you aren’t located in Perth, Australia. I provide virtual appointments on an online capacity.