Stomaching Functional Medicine: Heal Your Gut, Then Heal Yourself

Approximately 60 percent of Americans suffer from a chronic disease, and 40 percent suffer from two or more.

Researchers don’t understand exactly what causes chronic diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism, heart disease, and lung disease. It seems, though, that poor gut health contributes to these problems. 

The more emphasis you place on improving your gut health, the more likely you are to manage these conditions in an effective way.

Read on to learn more about how important it is to heal your gut if you want to experience good overall health. You’ll also get some advice on how to start healing your gut.

Why Does Your Gut Matter?

Many people don’t realize that the gut influences many different systems of the body.

Even health problems that seem to have nothing to do with the digestive tract, like heart disease and depression, can stem from issues with the gut.

The gut is full of trillions of bacteria, microbes, and fungi. It plays a key role in digesting food. It also has an impact on your immune system, your weight, your blood sugar levels, and your cholesterol levels. 

Your gut also contributes to your mental health. In fact, up to 90 percent of your body’s serotonin (a chemical associated with positive mood and feelings of well-being) gets produced by microbes in your gut!

If you want to feel well in all ways, you need to take good care of your gut microbiome.

Signs of Poor Gut Health

It’s not always easy to tell if you’re dealing with poor gut health.

This is especially true if you’re not experiencing digestive issues. You might not even think to address your gut when you’re not having trouble with your digestion.

If you think that poor gut health might be part of the problem but you’re not sure, consider whether you’re experiencing any of these common symptoms:

Digestive Problems

Digestive problems don’t always occur when you’re dealing with poor gut health. They can show up, though. If you notice issues like gas, constipation, bloating, heartburn, and/or diarrhea, poor gut health is likely part of the problem.

Weight Changes

If you’re losing or gaining weight without making any changes to your diet or workout routine, poor gut health could be the cause. If there’s an imbalance in your gut bacteria, you could have trouble absorbing nutrients, storing fat, losing fat, or regulating your blood sugar.

Fatigue or Insomnia

An unhealthy gut could contribute to sleep problems, too. You might feel fatigued all the time, or you might suffer from insomnia. Poor sleep can also exacerbate many of your other health problems.

Skin Problems

Many people who suffer from skin conditions like acne or eczema also are dealing with poor gut health. Poor gut health can trigger inflammation. Inflammation in the body can lead to skin irritation and breakouts or flare-ups.

How to Heal Your Gut

The process of healing the gut isn’t exactly a simple one. The following tips can help you begin to get your gut health under control, though:

Reduce Your Stress

If you struggle with chronic stress, your gut will take a hit. You may have a hard time digesting foods and may be more prone to inflammation. Managing your stress can help you feel better and help your gut to begin healing.

Change the Way You Eat

The way you eat could actually make your gut health worse. Make sure you’re chewing your food slowly and thoroughly. Sit down while you eat and avoid distractions like texting or scrolling through social media.

Consume Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help to balance out your gut microbiome. Consuming a probiotic supplement or eating foods rich in probiotics (like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha) can help to promote a healthy gut.

Do an Elimination Diet

If you’re regularly eating foods that trigger inflammation and irritate your gut, you’re going to have a much harder time healing and getting your symptoms under control.

An elimination diet will help you identify problematic foods so you can start improving your gut health.

Cut out foods like grains, dairy, sugar, and alcohol for at least 30 days to see how you feel. Then, slowly reintroduce those foods so you can see which ones cause problems for you.

How to Find a Good Functional Medicine Doctor

You can do some work on your own to heal your gut and manage your symptoms. In order to really get to the root of the issue and figure out what’s causing your problems, though, you need to work with a functional medicine doctor.

A functional medicine doctor will look at your health holistically and consider all the potential factors — including your gut health — that could be contributing to your symptoms.

Traditional doctors tend to just write prescriptions and send you on your way. That’s not the case with functional medicine doctors, though.

If you’re not sure how to find a good functional medicine doctor, these tips can help:

  • Find someone who specializes in treating conditions like the one (or ones) you suffer from
  • Read their online reviews to see what current and past patients have to say about them
  • Ask about their rates and find out if their services are covered by insurance

According to this medical center, it’s important to look for someone who recommends a full-body approach and addresses all aspects of your health. This includes food, lifestyle practices, and supplementation.

Start Healing Your Gut Today

As you can see, the health of your gut is pretty important to your overall health and wellness.

If you’re struggling with chronic mental or physical health problems, there’s a good chance that poor gut health is at the root of the issue. 

The tips in this article are a good starting point when it comes to trying to heal your gut.

Do you need help trying to heal your gut and improve your health? If so, check out some of the other resources on our site today.

Visit the Men’s Health and Women’s Health sections today for more advice.