When you think about your gut – beyond your gut instinct, of course – you likely think about digestion. While the gut is central to the body’s ability to digest the food that you eat, it’s also crucial to the health of your entire body. When you consider that your gut impacts your overall wellbeing, you may find that it’s also the root of a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. The good news is that by improving your gut health, you can boost many other aspects of your health too!
Immune Function and Your Gut
A large portion of the immune system (an estimated 70%) is found in the gut. The immune cells found in your gut relate to the microbiome, which is the variety of bacteria and other microorganisms residing in your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, when you have a healthy and balanced microbiome, you’ll have healthier immune cells too. This will support your body’s ability to fend off disease and illness, as well as prevent autoimmune conditions.
Heart Health and Your Gut
Some of the bacteria in your gut can contribute to heart disease. This is because when you eat foods that contain high levels of cholesterol, such as red meat, the gut bacteria produce a chemical that the liver converts into TMAO, or trimethylamine-N-oxide. TMAO can promote the accumulation of cholesterol in the blood vessels, which can contribute to heart disease.
Anxiety and Your Gut
It’s not a myth: Your gut can affect your emotions. The brain is directly connected to the intestines and stomach: when you think about eating, the brain sends a signal to the stomach to release gastric juice before you’ve even started to eat. But, this connection goes a step further, with your gut health affecting feelings including anxiety.
Stress and anxiety can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms including gas, bloating, and cramps. But, it can go the other way, too. Inflammation and sensitivity in the gastrointestinal system can signal the central nervous system, which can impact your mood. This makes people with chronic gastrointestinal problems more likely to feel anxious or depressed.
For comprehensive treatment including both holistic and traditional methods to improve the health of your gut, schedule an appointment at The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine today.