More and more of us are beginning to focus on our overall health, specifically focusing on immunity in the wake of COVID-19. Social distancing and wearing a mask can help to protect you when you are out in the world, running your errands, eating dinner, or going to work, but the real protection comes from healing your gut.
Research shows that an estimated 70% of the cells that contribute to the immune system are found in the gut. Knowing this, functional medicine providers work to improve the overall health of our patients by starting their health journey by healing the gut.
An unbalanced gut is often difficult to recognize on a surface level since gut issues can range anywhere from gas and bloating to mood swings, acne, and fatigue. If you have noticed a dip in your health and/or moods recently it is probably time to schedule a consultation through our functional medicine practice in Oak Brook, IL. Continue reading to learn more about some of the ways in which our practice effectively helps to improve gut health, which is the foundation for a strong immune system.
Increase Your Water Intake While Decreasing Alcohol & Caffeine
Drinking water is a surefire way to tip the scales in your gut’s favor. Consuming about half of your body weight in ounces of water per day has been proven to balance the good bacteria in the gut and is beneficial for the mucosal lining of the intestines.
Increasing your water intake is just one way to get the good bacteria “flowing”, other simple yet incredibly effective measures you can take include decreasing your caffeine (a stimulant) and alcohol (a depressant) intake. Both caffeine and alcohol can increase the “bad” bacteria in the gut and can affect energy and stress levels and may cause mood swings.
What you ingest directly impacts your gut health and has a profound impact on your immune system. While not as simple as adding more water to your daily routine, changing your diet to foods that nourish the body and mind is the single most impactful step you can take to improve your gut health, immune system, and overall quality of life.
However, if you’re currently living off of a diet of sugar and processed foods with back to back energy drinks just to get through your days, completely upending your diet to a more natural, whole foods-based diet can be daunting, to say the least. Furthermore, with so much opposing information and diet fads out in the world today, choosing a diet that makes sense for your specific body chemistry without the help of a professional can be dangerous. To avoid choosing a diet that may not be the best fit for you, schedule an appointment with Vitality Family Health today. In the meantime, start keeping a daily food journal. A food journal can include as little or as much information as you would like. Some things you may want to track in your food journal may include:
- What, when, and where you ate (were you sitting, at a restaurant, in the car, etc.).
- How you felt before during and after eating this can include both emotions and physical responses.
- If you are female you may want to keep track of the day of your cycle in your journal, it may reveal patterns to your eating habits and moods.
- Overall satisfaction level.
Don’t worry about tracking things like calories or macros just yet. Your Oak Brook functional medicine provider may or may not want you to include this information depending on your current lifestyle and future health goals.
Learn To Manage Your Stress in Healthy Ways
Chronic stress can lead to inflammation, cramping, and an imbalance of gut bacteria. This is why it’s vital to your health to learn to manage your stress in helpful and healthful ways.
Stress is a part of life, and over the years you have, no doubt found your own ways to deal with the stress you’re faced with. For some of us, that means relaxing in front of Netflix with a glass of wine for others that may look like working out or binge eating. However you deal with stress, it’s important that you take some time to examine your coping strategies, adjust them to be more well rounded and actually help the situation, rather than making it worse (example: binge eating and/or drinking alcohol isn’t the healthiest solution). Here are some ways to manage stress in ways that support your health:
- Exercise. Get outside and go for a walk, try yoga, ride your bike…the list is endless. The goal here is to try and move your body in any way for at least thirty minutes a day.
- Laugh. Science proves that laughter truly is the best medicine. Call a friend who is sure to make you laugh or watch an episode of your favorite show.
- Meditate. Start with focusing on your breathing for just one minute a day and work up to ten minutes. Headspace and Insight Timer are two apps that are great for beginners and seasoned meditators alike.
- Talk it out. Talk to a counselor or your best friend if stress seems to be taking a toll on your mental health and everyday life. You may be surprised by how much more supported you will feel after just talking to someone.
We hope that these suggestions will help you with your health goals. If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your gut health, contact Vitality Family Health at your earliest convenience.