The Gut-Health Connection: Nurturing Our Second Brain For Overall Well-Being

Written by Julianne Sack, 2023 Let Go & Grow Summer Intern
Edited by The LG&G Team


In the pursuit of good health, we often focus on maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. While these factors are undoubtedly crucial, one aspect that is often overlooked but plays a fundamental role in our overall well-being is gut health. The gut, often referred to as our “second brain,” is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms that profoundly impacts various aspects of our physical and mental health. Often times, it can be difficult to understand how, when, and what foods to eat.  

The Gut-Health Connection

The gut microbiome plays several vital roles in our bodies:  

  • Digestion and Nutrient Absorption: Beneficial gut bacteria assist in breaking down food, making it easier for our bodies to absorb essential nutrients.  
  • Immune Function: A healthy gut boosts our immune system, protecting us from infections and diseases.  
  • Mental Health: The gut-brain axis, a bi-directional communication system between the gut and brain, influences our mood, emotions, and cognitive functions. A disrupted gut can contribute to  stress, anxiety, and even depression.  
  • Weight Management: An imbalanced gut microbiome may affect the way our bodies store fat and regulate hunger, potentially leading to weight gain. 
  • Inflammation and Chronic Diseases: An unhealthy gut has been linked to chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. 

Options To Promote A Healthy Gut

It is important to keep focus on what works for you and only you. In Dr. Brooke’s article titled Diet Philosophy: Drop the Dogma & Discover What Works for YOU, she has a section called “What to Eat” and in it she states…

  • Health Foods: By focusing on health foods, we can widen the lens and include a wide variety of healthy proteins, fats, and carbs, for you to  then tailor to your specifications. This includes pasture-raised meat and eggs, wild caught fish,  healthy fats, vegetables, fruit, starchy plants, gluten-free grains, legumes, probiotic rich food, nuts & seeds, spices and healthy sweeteners.
  • Drink: Make sure to drink enough pure, filtered water. Half of your body weight in fluid ounces is the general recommendation. Tea and nut milk are also great options.
  • Quality: Consuming the highest quality foods available to you is the priority. High quality is not the same as expensive, in fact, most of my patients actually save money eating this way. High Quality, in general, means to eat organic, unprocessed, unrefined  whole foods. It is also important to avoid GM crops and chemicals found in processed and  artificial products, such as industrial seed oils and conventional sugar.

Here are some potential options for enrichment in all areas of your gut biome…

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that can be found in certain foods like yogurt,  kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and in supplement form. Consuming probiotics regularly can help replenish and maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.  
  • Prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers found in certain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that act as food for beneficial gut bacteria. Including prebiotic-rich foods like garlic, onions, bananas, and oats in your diet can support the growth of good bacteria.  
  • Fiber-Rich Diet: A diet high in fiber is not only beneficial for digestive health but also supports the growth of diverse gut bacteria. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are excellent sources of dietary fiber. 
  • Fermented Foods: Fermented foods contain probiotics and can help improve gut health. Besides dairy-free yogurt and kimchi, consider adding kombucha, miso, tempeh, and pickles to your diet.  
  • Limiting Antibiotics: While antibiotics can be lifesaving medications, overuse can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria. When prescribed antibiotics, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and consider probiotic supplementation during and after treatment.  
  • Stress Management: Chronic stress can negatively impact the gut microbiome. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like meditation, yoga, and spending time in nature can support gut health.  
  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity has been linked to a more diverse gut microbiome, so staying active is beneficial for both your gut and overall health.  
  • Avoiding Artificial Sweeteners and Processed Foods: Some artificial sweeteners and heavily  processed foods can negatively affect gut health. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and focus on whole, unprocessed foods. 

One of the many things I have learned from Dr. Brooke was the benefits of eliminating gluten and dairy. All of our bodies are different, but possibly trying out this new regimen can drastically change the way you feel and react. In Dr. Brooke’s article titled Going Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free she states, “starting a gluten-free and dairy-free diet can  improve your health, reduce inflammation, manage food sensitivities, and help fight chronic  diseases. Both gluten and dairy are common dietary components correlated with sensitivity,  intolerance and an allergic reaction in many people…” For more information on the benefits and  options to going gluten and dairy free check out this amazing article. For more on building a solid foundation, check out the Let Go & Grow Mind Body Reset Program and other resources available on Let Go & Grow’s website.

Julianne Sack

Julianne Sack comes from a small town in southwest Florida known as Naples where she lived most her life and decided to come to Orlando to study Biomedicine. Julianne’s parents are both immigrants from South America who came to the states for not only a better life for themselves but a better life for their future children. Julianne has always enjoyed challenges and believed a medical career would suit her ethic, but as she grew up, she discovered a lot of corruption and dishonesty in the medical field and decided this may not be the right path for her. During the quarantine of Covid-19, she spent a lot of time with herself and started to learn a lot about the power of the mind and healing the body through more natural remedies and activities. In turn, Julianne’s path for her future now consists of functional medicine and holistic counseling.

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