Healthy Gut = Optimized Immune System and Metabolism

Thank you! Hope you have a peaceful day

In this post, I am sharing the story of my gut problems, what our gut has to do with our immune system, our skin & even mental health, 3 easy signs to spot an unhealthy gut, 3 daily steps to restore our gut's health, my 7 eating life-hacks and why I feel lucky to have had an experience with gastritis. Today, I have zero pain, and zero allergies, and I am doing everything I mention in this post to keep it that way. 

If you prefer learning through listening, you can hear this post on my Podcast 'Slow Down to Heal' Episode 11

Many years ago while in college, I started to notice weekly tummy aches I've never had before and visited a gastro-doctor. Must I tell you, a totally fair result of my terrible eating habits which consisted of a bread-based diet like sandwiches, pasta and pastries, a complete opposite of the homemade meals I used to cook while living with parents. Looking back today, I was frikking lucky that in Belarus the standard procedure of stomach diagnostics is to swallow a cable with a camera, called endoscopy to see inside the stomach. What we saw was a bright red inflamed stomach lining, and I was diagnosed with gastritis. The doctor said I was just a few months away from a gastric ulcer - an open sore that could cause cancer, auto-immune disease, or internal bleeding. I understand that diagnosis would never be possible without the camera.  He also told me that our digestive system makes up 80% of the power of my immune system and if I wanted to be healthy, I better stop eating sandwiches and start eating soups and veggies every day.  So starting in college, I was forced to develop healthy eating habits which kept my gut running smooth and pain-free until about 8 years ago when I started to experience stomach pain and bloating that seemed to be caused after I ate just normal whole foods. I remember eating a pear, and 10 minutes after having the worst stomach pain, I had to lie down in an embryo pose for an hour. I found a great gastroenterologist at Sutter Health (Nikhil Argawal) who agreed to test me on H.pylori gut infection. I learned that H.pylori infection has been recognized as a class I carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Guess what? H.pylori was in fact dominant in my stomach at that time, and we successfully treated it with a course of antibiotics. H.pylori is a very common stomach infection and is a major cause of ulcers, gastric cancer, chron's disease, IBS, eczema, and rosacea. There are hundreds of studies on PubMed associating this H.Pylori bacteria with many diseases. From the 22 medical studies done in USA, Japan & Australia Chron's Disease was inversely and significantly associated with the prevalence of H. pylori infection. You can learn more about H.pylori (+ even see a  video of our stomach) from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health >

 

Why do I want to talk about such an intimate subject, my gut, and all that crap? Because friends, my life's mission is to empower you to sustainable daily selcare that creates lasting health, and there is no well-being possible without a healthy gut. Our gut is what literally re-creates us, reconstructs us, cell by cell every day. Our gut is what makes every building block we are made of, and what eliminates over 50 billion of our dead cells every day. Our gut is 80% of our immune system, and supporting our immune system is key to creating well-being and longevity. 

 

I hope that this post will empower you to take your gut health seriously, never ignore digestive pain, advocate for real testing (not the exclusion diet) and take control of your health and wellbeing.  I know a woman who has had regular bloating and stomach pain, her doctor kept sending her home every 6 months with a new exclusion diet test and 3 years later she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer fighting for her life. Please, request real testing, stool test, endoscopy, see what is going on inside and never accept stomach pain as a normal thing.

ABCD OF OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

 

Let's break down our immune system, what does it include and how does it actually protect us? Think of your immune system as a combination of:

A. Finding + Killing Bad Guys. Bad guys = pathogens + own broken cells (cancer) + millions of dead cells. That's done by our immune cells called 'Natural Killer Cells' that circulate in our lymph fluid moving through our body. Important note: the lymph fluid move only when we move - no exercise - no lymph moving. Also, medical studies show that Natural Killer Cells get activated with physical exercise. So many reasons to exercise daily! Join our daily classes, and if you live far away - check out my 20-Min Live from Home Workout Program >

B. Murdering Bad Guys, breaking them down, digesting them. Healthy stomach lining and digestive tract. You can breathe in and swallow nasty bugs, the mucus in your nose, together with the food we eat end up in your stomach. So that healthy acid in our stomach simply destroys all the pathogens as the first line of defense.  We compromise our immunity every time we take anti-acid pills. Anti-acid pills lower the power of our first line of defense. 

C. Healthy flow of digesting, upcycling & removal: our gut, colon, and small intestine pipes break down & move out food, pathogens, and the billions of our own dead cells (over 1lb of our own cells die every day). What helps with that healthy upcycling flow is fiber, which is the 'ruffage' of what plants are made of, think - building blocks of plants. The plants are a basic need for our bacterial balance to make up that healthy acid, plus the fiber, 'ruffage' of the plants helps with the movement inside our digestive tract which has over 20ft of 'pipes'. Without the fiber, our upcycling system chemistry breaks, and pipes clogs & break down.  Continue reading to learn about fiber and my 7 fiber lifehacks. 

D. Parasympathetic nervous system turns on the ABC to protect, repair & digest. 

When your body is not in a Parasympathetic state when you are stressed & run on cortisol, don't sleep well, and are mentally overstimulated - none of the ABC processes are on, as our body is not in a regenerative-longevity state.

So, together with a healthy gut, exercising, sleeping well, and managing stress, we can be protected 100%. I think that taking care of our tummy's happiness should be our daily priority right? 🌱 So, is your gut healthy?

3 SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY GUT:

1. Indigestion, all tummy pain, irregular stool or soft stool, and food allergies.  There is no 'normal' stomach pain. According to the latest medical studies, emerging evidence suggests that the increasing prevalence of food allergies is associated with compositional and functional changes in our gut microbiota. Most allergies are the symptom of an unhealthy gut - not their own disease. 

2. Unhealthy-looking skin: breakouts, flakiness, eczema, dandruff, under-eye circles, chronic redness, or rush. Here is a medical study showing the link between Rosacea and H.pylori >

3. Immunity disorders, chronic inflammatory conditions, anxiety, depression, mental disorders, and fatigue. The latest medical studies have found that an unhealthy gut is associated with depression, anxiety, autoimmunity disorders, and many chronic inflammatory conditions including arthritis and even asthma. 

3 Things We Can Do To Improve Gut's Health:

Please work your way to implement these 3 equally important steps to balance and heal your gut. 1-stress management, 2-fiber, and 3-bacterial balance.

1. Mental Hygiene Routine. The number one thing that turns on and off our gut is our nervous system. When our system runs on adrenaline & cortisol - when we're stressed, we can eat all the kale salad in the world, but our internal organs will not be working properly if we're in a fight and flight.  Many of us are chronically stressed, unconsciously compromising our immune systems. So, using simple stress management techniques for mental cleansing like yoga & diaphragmatic breathing to shift your body into rest and digest mode. Before any meal, practice slow belly breathing for 3-5 minutes, and build a regular yoga practice, meditation, or qi gong to spend more hours in a calm, parasympathetic state. Also, I have to mention here, that some of us are affected by past trauma, and our guts will simply never be restored until we heal the psychological disturbances that keep us in a chronic state of fight & flight, sympathetic nervous system mode. Many people are able to restore their gut health by working with a trauma-professionals to re-balance their nervous system. You can listen to my Podcast about Vagus Nerve to understand our nervous system. To summarize: the 1st thing that affects our gut health is mental stress.

2. Fiber. The second essential cause that breaks (and restores) our digestive health is our need for daily fiber, 30g of daily fiber to be exact. Not eating enough fiber causes of kinds of issues inside of the 22+ feet of our 'pipes' that make up our digestive system. And I am not talking about any substitute fiber from the jar, we have to eat food that is rich in fiber daily. Fiber-rich foods are responsible for the healthy bacterial balance and, for pushing all the pathogens, our own dead or damaged cells, and the waste through and out of our digestive tract. It is our own 'Recology, Recycling System'. Consuming a diet rich in fiber reduces the rate of all diseases, diabetes, inflammation, arthritis, high cholesterol, auto-immune, gout, leaky gut, cardiovascular disease, low metabolism, low energy, and ALL cancers. Sometimes I hear people say my stomach doesn't like high-fiber foods, I get gassy: this is a sign that your gut is already unhealthy. Start with adding probiotics, and little by little add a variety of vegetables and legumes into your daily meals. The longer we under-consume fiber, the worse our health will get. 

 

3. Bacterial-fungal balance. It is important to test yourself on H.Pylori (carcinogenic bacteria), candida-fungus overgrowth & potential parasites and go through the treatment if any of those are present. Once your gut is clear of harmful pathogens, and you have a daily stress management routine, exercising daily, consuming a variety of vegetables to guarantee 30g of daily fiber and a healthy microbiome, your gut balance will naturally restore itself. A healthy microbiome thrives on high-fiber foods in a low-mental-stress environment. You can support your healthy bacteria by adding live foods probiotics: 1-2 tablespoons of kimchi or raw sauerkraut into your daily meals. I personally avoid any probiotic supplements, I trust whole live probiotics more than a pill that can sit on a shelf for 5 years. Cabbage-family vegetables are known superfoods, and exceptionally wonderful gut-loving, heart-healthy foods. It has soluble and insoluble fiber which makes it an excellent gut-healthy veggie. So, to summarise: simply eating foods that give us 30g of fiber daily will naturally restore our bacterial balance. 

Where Do We Get That Fiber?

Definitely not in a jar if I may burst your false hopes. Please print High Fiber Chart Shopping List PDF and place it on your fridge. You’ll most likely be shocked by how little fiber you get daily with what you eat daily. Using the Fiber Chart, have fun thinking of the recipes you love that can also provide you with a minimum of 30g of fiber daily. I am working on a little recipe book to share my favorite easy recipes to make it simple for all of us. 

 

7 NUTRITION LIFEHACKS for healthy metabolism and the immune system: 

 

  1. Start your day with 2 glasses of water and have as much as you can throughout the day. Water with fiber carries waste & pathogens out

  2. Make sure that 80% of your plate are plants. Add avocados, kimchi or sauerkraut to your meals. 1 avocado has great fiber plus incredibly healthy oils.

  3. Eat 2-3 whole fruits & veggies daily like apple, pear, berries, orange, a couple of carrots, broccoli with hummus 

  4. Add any beans to everyday meals, or have a bowl of legumes soup, daal, or chili every day 

  5. Never white grains, bread, or pasta with less than 6g of fiber per serving. Use grains rich in color, and high in fiber: quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, and whole-wheat pasta that has over 6g of fiber per serving. 

  6. Eat Chocolate Chia Pudding to boost your fiber

  7. Study the Fiber Chart, and make sure that every one of your meals has 8+ grams of fiber - and you are good!

You know, today, I am very grateful for those health scares, for my pain, and for my doctors - both of the experiences inspired me to study digestive health in and out, and today I take my gut health very seriously. Because of those illnesses, I look the way I look today, I have zero pain and I have a lot of fun eating and cooking food that is actually good for me. I am much more in-tune with my body and I can easily tell when I am out of balance. Once in a while, I enjoy some pizza and whatever pastry I want, but I definitely no longer crave them. 

Thank you so much for reading, and listening to my podcast:  by taking loving care of yourself you inspire others and make our whole world a little healthier. Please share this with anyone who might benefit. 

 

Sending you love, peace, and a healthy immune system,

 

Natasha

Your Daily Dessert - Chocolate Chia Pudding

 

Offers premium nutrition: 10g of fiber per serving, the purest protein, antioxidants, oils, and JOY!

Ingredients to stock up on, try to find all organic:

- Fair Trade Cocoa powder (without sugar or other additives) 1 Tablespoon has 3g of fiber and 2g of protein

- Coconut Milk  (Trader Joe's organic coconut milk or cream has the best flavor with no additives)

- Oat Creamer Original by Sown or Oatly (unsweetened)

- Chia Seeds. 1 Tablespoon has 5g of fiber and 2g of protein

- Seeded Raisins, Dried Blueberries, or Figs. A half cup has 5g+ of fiber

- Vanilla

- Salt

 

Step 1. Fill up a mason jar in proportions: 1/5 of chia seeds, 1/5 of seeded raisins,  2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 50% oat milk, 50% coconut milk, vanilla & salt to taste.

 

Step 2. Close the lid and shake it really well for a couple of minutes, pretend to be a bartender. Taste the flavor, if you need more cocoa. You can also try this recipe without cocoa if you just want the coconut flavor. We all have our preferences. I find that coconut milk adds sweetness. Try eating it without added sugars to re-train your taste buds to be cleaner and more mindful too. 

 

Step 3. Put the jar in the fridge for 3+ hours. The seeds will soak the liquid and the pudding will be ready to enjoy whenever you like. You can add chia seeds to create a thicker consistency to your preference.  Serve in your favorite glass cup, sprinkle with berries or shredded coconut and enjoy daily! 

Stay Tuned for my High-Fiber LifeHack Recipes Book - I'm working on it! 

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