Resilience starts in the gut - 7 ways to improve gut health
How would you define resilience?
The dictionary definition states:
1. The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
2. Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
Resilience in principle is built around this idea of “bouncing back”. In the business world, it’s becoming more important to be resilient. Demanding jobs, tight deadlines, busy schedules and balancing family life are running people into the ground leading to executive burnout. According to the study in the Employee Engagement Series conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace, 95 percent of human resource leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce.
Mindfulness and meditation are the current buzz words in corporate world to combat stress, as daily practices of this type can create huge shifts in mindset and present state awareness. Headspace and other leading meditation apps have brought mainstream awareness to the conscious self and it seems that more and more people are open to the idea of taking time out to de-stress. Does this mean that everyone who meditates will create resilience? No, unfortunately it does not as these practices focus on the mind and nervous system, but to create true resilience you have to take a holistic view and start off with optimising your biology. Remember, meditation is a tool and a very good tool, but it is much more effective when the host is not utilising energy on a compromised biology.
What does true resilience look like?
Having energy to cope with your daily demands
Having back up energy reserves to cope with unplanned stressors
Having deep, restful sleep to rejuvenate your body and mind
Having clear focused thoughts to efficiently process tasks
Having a balanced nervous system
Where do you start?
The capacity for resilience starts with energy. Our bodies require energy to be able to perform daily biological functions - walking, talking, thinking, sleep, hormone production, our digestive system all require energy for homeostasis. Have you ever struggled to deal with a demanding situation when you are hungry and feel weak? When we don’t have enough energy our bodies start to decline in performance and our resilience or capacity for being resilient is greatly compromised. But this isn’t simply about eating more food, it's about our body’s ability to fully digest and assimilate the nutrients in the foods we consume. We often hear the saying “You are what you eat”, but actually that statement should say “You are what you digest”.
Upgrade your hardware
The starting point to building ultimate resilience is focusing on the internal body, and specifically the digestive system. Our digestive tract is the gateway to creating energy, as all foods are processed here via the unique bacteria in the microbiome. Think of the microbiome as a workforce carefully assimilating the good stuff your body needs whilst fighting off the bad things that comprise us. This is a key component for hormone creation, immune function, efficient neurotransmitters that send communications around our body and much more. So not only do we create energy, but our body depends on this system for the majority of mechanisms that make up our unique biology. Unfortunately lifestyle and environmental factors such as alcohol, antibiotics, stress, environmental toxins and medications can easily damage this sensitive area.
These factors can lead to a damaged digestive system creating symptoms such as:
Poor absorption of nutrients from foods
IBS symptoms – bloating, pain and discomfort
Diarrhoea or constipation
Hormone problems – low testosterone, low libido, poor muscle growth
Weight gain – difficult to lose weight even when on a healthy diet
Food sensitivities – foods you used to eat now create an immune response and inflammation
Once the digestive system is compromised, optimum energy is lowered therefore the capacity for resilience is significantly reduced. This leads to an over dependence on coffee, sugar and other stimulants during the day and alcohol to combat the “tired and wired” feeling at night. The long term impact is burnout and poor health.
7 Ways to improve your digestive functions:
Cut back on the sugar - The amount we consume can be a big factor in the health of our microbiome and, as we now know, anything that harms our friendly gut bugs harms us too.
Probiotics - These can be very effective and are an important element of the gut-healing equation.
Fermented Foods – The beneficial bacteria from these types of foods increase the amount and diversity of good bacteria in our microbiome assisting with our own digestion and assimilation of foods.
L-glutamine – Supplementing with l-glutamine an amino acid can help re build a damaged gut.
Reduce Stress – Stress is one of those triggers – like diet or antibiotics – that can throw our gut bugs (our microbiome) badly out of balance.
Digestive Enzymes – can assist your body and help it break down the nutrients in your foods. This is especially important when you have leaky gut.
Food intolerance – find out what foods triggers an immune response and inflammation in your gut. Running an IgG via a practitioner can be a great starting point.
Following these simple steps can greatly improve your digestive function. If you are concerned about your health and want to investigate your wellbeing, resilience and performance further please get in touch for a free consultation.
Mark – Optimal Health and Performance Practitioner