8 ways you could be damaging your gut... - McDowell's Herbal Treatments

Think about this: the human gastrointestinal system is one of the most densely populated microbial communities on earth! It plays a crucial role in the functioning of the immune system, as well as the entire human body. There is normally a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. Sometimes the ‘bad’ bacteria can take over, leaving us feeling unwell or with physical signs of illness like skin conditions, digestive issues or worse, autoimmune conditions.

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Medicine has only just begun to understand how our lifestyle choices have an impact on our gut bacteria, which in turn has a profound effect on our physiology and well-being.

"A troubled gut will send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain will send signals to the gut."
A gastro-intestinal tract that's not being cared for causes both physical and mental issues. The brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected!

8 way that might be negatively affecting your gut bacteria:

Stress, anxiety and fear is a catch-22. Our distrupted gut bacteria effects our mental health and our mental health effects our gut health. What a tricky one! Being aware of this link is the first step to healing it. Work on stress in your life, meditate, breath work and taking time out in nature (or with animals!). 

Alcohol and smoking
Sorry to tell you but the harmful bacteria in your gut thrive on alcohol sugars! Alcohol is a mild form of poison and impacts your gut health and contributes to an imbalanced gut health. If you choose to drink, be mindful of what you're drinking, how much and how often.
Smoking contributes to inflammation in your gut (along with multiple other health impacts!). 

Antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs
The problem is that these drugs also kill off the friendly flora to some extent. Sometimes we need them but try to reduce your dependence on taking them for sniffles or minor concerns. Save them and save your gut.

Poor sleep patterns
Everyone needs a different amount of sleep dependent on their lifestyle but one thing is certain, a good night’s sleep is essential to your health. It allows your body and mind to to rest and recover. Some studies suggest that circadian rhythms appear to affect the health and diversity of the gut bacteria. Go 'screen free' at least an hour before sleep, rest in a cool, dark and well ventilated room and try to get to sleep before 11pm (not always possible!). 

Artifical flavours, colour and sweetners
These are not 'foods' and should be limited as much as possible. Manufactured foods aren't condusive to health. Eat whole, natural, unprocessed foods with natural flavours of herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits that have real flavour from earth. It's that simple.

Processed sugars
We don't really need to tell you that processed sugars aren't a good choice. Avoid these and include natural sugars like fruit, honey, sweet herbs and spices. 

Diet and including enough fibre
Fibre makes up part of the preobiotics. It's been shown many times what what you eat helps your gut bacteria to flourish and grow. Choose a variety of fresh fruits, lots of diverse vegetables, unprocessed and whole beans, seeds, nuts and grains, good qaulity fats and high quality meats, eggs and organic grass-fed dairy (if you choose).

Lack of exercise
Studies have found that physically active individuals have a more diverse community of gut flora, demonstrating that a little exercise can keep you healthy at even the lowest levels. Exercise could be something simple like walking, gardening, swimming, yoga or taichi. It doesn't need to be a marathon run or hours at the gym but simply being outside and moving is essential.



"Intestinal permeability, gut-bacterial dysbiosis, and behavioral markers of alcohol-dependence severity"https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2014/10/02/1415174111.full.pdf

"Effect of diets low and high in refined sugars on gut transit, bile acid metabolism, and bacterial fermentation."

Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome

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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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