Avoid Toxins for Optimal Gut Health
We live in a modern time and a modern era. We have access to more knowledge and information than ever before, we can travel the globe like no other time in human history, and we have availability to all kinds of conveniences, making our lives easier and more comfortable. Yet, despite the advances, we continue to battle illness and disease at alarming rates.
As technology has continued to advance, our genetics have remained the same but our lifestyles and the things we are exposed to have radically changed. Our bodies are bombarded by toxins, medicines, antibiotics and chemicals. From the household cleaners we use, the lotions, soaps and ointments we apply to our hair and skin, to the food we eat, we are constantly exposed to synthetic elements and chemicals. The impact of these toxins on our health is not something to shrug off. According to the World Health Organization, recent data estimates that globally 1.6 million lives were lost in 2016 due to exposure to chemicals.
WHAT ARE TOXINS
Technically speaking, the true definition of the word toxin refers to poisons that are naturally derived. However, in the health and wellness industry, the term toxin is frequent used to refer to toxicants, which are toxic substances added to the environment by people. They are chemicals and unnatural products, produced in factories, which are added to our foods, household products and health and beauty items. These ingredients are found in most processed foods and I blog about them often. As a Board Member of the Life Time Foundation, I’m committed to the mission of removing the Harmful Seven ingredients from the lunches of our kid’s schools, and they should be removed from your kitchens too! Diets high in processed food, high in sugar and low in fiber are a recipe for disaster. Not only will unhealthy eating lead to increased rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, but diets high in processed foods also contain large amounts of toxins, which over a lifetime, contribute to disease and illness.
Along with the Harmful Seven ingredients, we need to consider the amount of GMO derived foods, and the pesticides used to grow our food. These modern processes have completely altered the state of food and while crop yields have increased, there is a cost to the human population. Our health is negatively impacted by consuming these foods.
The way animals are treated also matters. If an animal is pumped full of corn, antibiotics and hormones, living their entire lives in a factory, that animal will not be healthy. Animals aren’t meant to be eating genetically modified soybeans.
All of this can be very overwhelming to take in. But there’s good news! We have a choice about what we put into our mouths. By making healthier choices, it is possible to limit our exposure to toxins.
We have a choice about what we put into our mouths. By making healthier choices, it is possible to limit our exposure to toxins.
CONNECTION TO GUT HEALTH
There is a strong connection between the toxicity in our systems and our gut health. Our bodies naturally have the ability to cleanse toxins but we can aid in the process by sweating more, taking saunas, and doing an occasional diet detox. Once you’ve removed toxins from your diet and you’ve allowed your body to cleanse the toxins from within, you can focus on gut healing. Remember to have patience throughout this process and give yourself time. Detoxing and gut repair are both a slow process. It takes a commitment to make some lifestyle changes in order to rebuild the gut microbiome.
IMPORTANCE OF GUT HEALTH
There are a lot of different gut issues that are often misdiagnosed. An infection, antibiotics and every-day stress can shock your colon and won’t allow things to move along properly which can cause bacteria overgrowth in your system. Unfortunately, the wrong types of antibiotics are commonly used to try and fix these issues and in turn, only make things worse. It’s our responsibility to keep up-to-date on the latest research and knowledge regarding gut health, as it is integral to our overall health. There is strong scientific proof that shows our gut affects our mind and mood and that an unhealthy gut is connected to many neurological disorders. When you remove the foods that cause gut inflammation and add in colorful plant-based fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, the gut has a much healthier environment.
MY PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH ARI
Ari was a c-section baby. As a result, she didn’t get the proper gut microbiome that she would have had being vaginally delivered. She was then exposed to strep bacteria in the hospital, without me even knowing it. Within her first couple years of life she struggled with ear infections. I thought I had to treat her with amoxicillin. Then she got the reoccurring strep, which I also originally thought had to be treated with antibiotics . I kept giving her different rounds of anabiotic hoping the strep would go away and it never did. After meeting with many functional medicine doctors and doing every gut microbiome test available, I learned that in order for her to not continue to get strep, we needed to remove every inflammatory food out of her diet. For Ari, this includes gluten, dairy, and sugar. She also needs to be on specific supplementation to build back her gut microbiome. In doing this, her mood has improved drastically. She no longer gets bad stomachaches and she no longer battles strep. I know I’m on the right track with her.
Start small and begin reducing the toxin load on your body. Look at the ingredient label when at the grocery store and avoid foods that contain the Harmful Seven. Use natural cleaners and cosmetics.
Listen to your body.
From there, my biggest advice is listen to your body. As mentioned earlier, your body naturally eliminates toxins and will tell you if something doesn’t sit right. If you consume dairy and you notice bloating, it’s your bodies way of telling you that dairy causes too much inflammation in your system. If you eat a piece a cake and shortly after you get a headache, listen to that sign. If you drink a lot of caffeine a notice that you are so tired later in the day… listen to that. For anyone that has been struggling to lose weight and feel that they’re doing everything right, I would strongly suggest looking at what is going on inside the gut.
I firmly believe that by paying attention to gut health and reducing toxins, we can live longer, healthier lives.