I cannot believe that 2020 is here. It’s a completely new decade, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a great one.
This year I’ve seen a lot of conversations around holistic healing. Acupuncture, yoga, herbal use, massage, and meditation are all examples of holistic healing. These medicinal and therapeutic practices work because, unlike present-day medicine, they work on healing mind, body, and soul at the same time. This is not to say that Western medicine is wrong: it has saved, and will continue to save, countless lives. There are certain ailments that cannot be healed through alternative medicine alone. I believe that both styles of medicine need to work in harmony to allow us to be at our best health.
One of the biggest wellness trends for 2020 is taking our gut health more seriously. After all, healing our digestive system brings so much balance to our bodies and minds. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing so many new studies about how our gut health affects us and how we can heal it. So, I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned! In this new year, society as a whole is going to see the value of gut health and take steps to nourish it in our self-care regimen.
Gut Health for Longevity & Neurogenesis
Last month, an international research team released a study that analyzed the effects of transplanting the gut bacteria of older mice into younger mice. After the gut microbes were transplanted from the 24-month-old mice into the six-week-old mice, the younger mice were observed to study if there were any positive effects from having the more developed microbiomes. After eight weeks, the researchers found that the mice had an increase in intestinal growth and production of neurons in the brain due to butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced by the gut that also triggers the creation of a pro-longevity hormone called FGF21. The family of FGF hormones is involved in cell growth, tissue repair, embryonic development, and morphogenesis. These processes are so crucial to healthy aging. It appears that a healthy gut might be the key to a slower aging process.
The Outdoors and Our Gut
A research team from the University of Adelaide revealed how getting outside can heal our gut and reduce stress all at the same time. The study observed 54 mice, and how being exposed to biodiverse air due to rich soil particles affected their health. The mice that were exposed to the air that contained the biodiverse dust produced more butyrate in their gut. Yes, the same fatty acid that increased longevity in the previous study we discussed was produced due to exposure to biodiverse air. Butyrate is also known to be an anti-inflammatory and is supported by K. alysoides, a bacteria found in some soils. The researches found that the more balanced gut biomes also reduced stress in the mice. So if you’re looking to improve the equilibrium of your digestive system, the answer might be right in your backyard.
A Balanced Gut and Weight Loss
The ultimate New Year’s topic, weight loss. So many people set out every new year to lose weight, but aren’t able to achieve their goals, even though it seems they’re doing everything right. Now, before I go into this study, I want to remind everyone that your body is 100% your body. Please don’t feel pressured by society, your family, significant other, etc. to look a certain way. If you want to gain/lose weight, let that be your decision and no one else’s. A study done back in 2013, showed that obese patients had a less diverse gut biome than non-obese patients. Another study performed in 2018 observed how fecal transplants from lean subjects lead to weight loss in obese subjects. The bacteria in our gut are responsible for many different processes, as we learned with the effect of butyrate on the FGF21 hormone.
Gut bacteria also triggers our appetite regulation hormones. However, if we overeat the bad bacteria in the gut increases, which disrupts the balance of our appetite regulation, which then makes it easier for us to overeat again. Working on gut balance, alongside healthy eating and exercise, can help us lose the weight and keep it off.
How to balance your gut health
An imbalanced gut can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, weight loss resistance, thyroid disorders, skin issues, autoimmune conditions, and diabetes. There are also so many factors in our life that can throw our gut microbiome off. Of course, a poor diet can affect it, but stress, too much alcohol, certain medications, and certain autoimmune conditions can also have adverse effects.
A diet that supports a healthy gut will be different for everyone. It all depends on your food sensitivities, so if you think your digestive system is irritated, eat a very simple diet of whole foods for a while and then slowly start introducing one type of food at a time. That way, you’ll know which foods don’t work well with your body. Taking probiotics will add healthy bacteria to your digestive system. You can find probiotics in sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurts, and supplements. If going the supplement route, make sure to do your research and find a probiotic that has various strains of good bacteria to bring the most balance. If you want to go the herbal route marshmallow root, slippery elm, and licorice help support a healthy digestive system.
Taking care of our digestive system is integral to holistic healing. After everything we’ve learned together, it’s easy to see how the gut’s health affects the rest of our body. What we put into our body works itself inside out. This start of a new year, and a new decade, is the perfect time to heal ourselves and find balance. I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful new year, I’m sending you so many positive thoughts for 2020!
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Photos: Woman amongst white flowers by Rodolfo Carvalho via Unsplash; People preparing herbs by Annie Spratt via Unsplash