Take Care of Your Gut So It Can Take Care of You
Many of you know Jordan’s story. At the age of nineteen, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease—a disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract characterized by inflammation and deep ulcer formation in the GI lining. He was told that his disease was incurable—yet through diet, lifestyle changes, and an immovable faith, he was able to regain his health.
What Jordan learned over time was that overall health depends on your immune system, and a healthy immune system begins in the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, the digestive system produces up to 75 percent of the immune system’s cells. Long story short . . . the intestinal tract is the body’s first line of defense against disease.
The condition and function of the gastrointestinal tract are essential to overall well-being, as it constitutes the second largest body surface area—comparable to the width of a tennis court! Jordan’s understanding of the digestive system’s function and its importance to well-being was his first step to improving his overall health. He had to take care of his digestive tract so that it could take care of him.
The Digestive System’s Role
The digestive system is designed to be the body’s source of growth, repair, and energy. Without proper digestive system functioning, the body cannot experience extraordinary health. Eating the right foods helps the digestive system to work properly. Scientific evidence supports the idea that our genes have not tolerated the dramatic dietary and lifestyle changes that have occurred in our “modern” society—particularly over the last 100 years. Stress, reduced physical activity, consumption of nutritionally “dead” processed foods, and exposure to chemicals (including pharmaceuticals) can all negatively impact your health.
The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract serves two main purposes: It acts as a barrier to the external environment and acts as the main portal of entry for nutrients. (Some of the nutrients that enter are those that preserve the integrity of the GI tract itself, including the GI mucosa and epithelial cells, which act as the primary interface between ingested nutrients and the blood and lymph streams.)
What’s Living in Your Gut?
One hundred trillion bacteria and other microorganisms are currently living in your intestinal tract. In fact, there are more bacterial cells in your gut than there are cells in your entire body. The total weight of this microbial zoo is estimated to be three to five pounds. Your gut is a jungle where good, bad, and indifferent bacteria and microbes live—and often fight it out. Note this:
- The bacteria and microbes that live in your gut are essential to your health and well-being.
- They help the immune system.
- They increase or decrease your risk of being infected by disease.
- They synthesize valuable nutrients, including essential B vitamins.
- Beneficial microorganisms in your gut also play a major role in the digestion of food.
There’s much more to how essential digestive health is, and we will look closer at digestive health in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, be good to your gut!