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How to Take Care of Your Second Brain 

I want to offer a bit more of an in-depth guide to taking care of your gut. I am going to cover "leaky gut," digestive issues, and the gut-brain connection. Gut feeling is no joke here, people. 

Madison Vanden Boom

November 20, 2020

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I'm tired. I'm tired because I've been hearing lots of talk about gut health without hardly anyone discussing why it's important in the first place.


I want to offer a bit more of an in-depth guide to taking care of your gut. I am going to cover "leaky gut," digestive issues, and the gut-brain connection. Gut feeling is no joke here, people


Before we talk about improving our gut health, there are a few things we need to cover. The conventional medical field is only just beginning to understand the importance of the gut and how it works. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done. Here is what we know right now... 


Why Do We Care So Much About Our Guts?



The gut plays a huge role in our functioning as human beings. It is linked not only to digestive problems but with many diseases and mental health issues.


The condition of your gut is determined by your genetics, environmental factors, stress, and diet. Unfortunately, it is common to have a health condition that stems from poor gut conditions. 


Gut health is important if we want to prevent or relieve inflammation in our bodies. Reducing inflammation is the first step in healing many health issues.


But... Why Do We Call It Our Second Brain?


Allow me to introduce you to the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is found in our guts and part of our central nervous system, which includes the brain. Some people refer to our gut as our second brain because it uses the same neurons and chemicals as our real brain.


The gut and the brain communicate with each other. Research has begun to look at the gut and its role in depression, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and anxiety. Think about it, when you get nervous or excited, you get butterflies in your stomach! 


What Happens When Our Gut Isn't Functioning Properly?


A common term you might have heard of is Leaky gut. Leaky gut (also known as "increased gut permeability") happens when our gut is somewhat damaged, allowing unwanted particles into our bloodstream. This can lead to a variety of issues.


Leaky Gut Symptoms


  1. Chronic bowel issues
  2. A weakened immune system
  3. Chronic fatigue
  4. Migraines
  5. Skin rashes
  6. Joint pain
  7. Depression, anxiety, ADD 
  8. Autoimmune diseases 


If you have any of these symptoms, don't be alarmed! There are plenty of ways to take action.


Ways to Improve Gut Health 


One of the most important things you can do for your gut is to follow a clean diet. The simpler, the better. When you read labels at the grocery store, products with a shorter, easy-to-read list of ingredients are safer. 


Vegetables and Fruits are nutrient-dense whole foods that are great sources of fiber. Fiber exits your stomach undigested and feeds the good bacteria in your gut.


@Table for Two


Include fermented foods and probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that support a healthy gut. Investing in a good probiotic supplement is recommended. Another way to include probiotics in your diet is through food. After all, food is medicine! Greek yogurt typically has less sugar and is a great probiotic. Kombucha (the less added sugar, the better), kimchi, apple cider vinegar, and sauerkraut are also great choices. 


@Table for Two


For some, the flavor of fermented foods can be...challenging. I recommend mixing your salad dressing with apple cider vinegar if you don't enjoy its own taste.


Apart from a clean, gut-friendly diet, it is important to make sure that you're managing stress and getting enough sleep.


What About What to Avoid?


Staying away from alcohol, caffeine, processed sugars, and prepackaged foods help heal your gut. Of course, a little bit of sugar and coffee now and then is not the end of the world. 


I Already Do All of This and Still Have Issues


Okay, so you eat a clean diet, avoid irritating substances, and maintain a healthy lifestyle...but you still have signs of trouble in your gut. What can you do? 


Something that you can try on your own is to follow the process of elimination. If you have any guesses on what's been causing your symptoms, try eliminating them for a few weeks. Some common items to start with are wheat, eggs, dairy, nuts, and soy. 


First, eliminate the foods that you think might be triggers for your symptoms. Slowly introduce them back one at a time and take note of which ones cause negative reactions. 


Make sure you talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes


I Leave You With This!


Navigating your health can be intimidating, especially with something as complex as the gut. The world is still learning! If I could send everyone away with one thing, it would be to clean up your diet and pay attention to what causes you discomfort.


If you suffer from any leaky gut symptoms, it can be a slow process to figure out how to heal. But with a mindful approach to your diet and lifestyle, it can be done.



How will you be more mindful of your gut health...apple cider vinegar shots, anyone?

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