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Hi, pod fam!! 

Guys, I seriously cannot overstate my passion for all things gut health—especially after the eye-opening convos I’ve been having with pod guests this season. And I know a lot of you share this passion—considering how my probiotic and ParaPro formulas are some of y’all’s favorites. YOU GET IT. 

Okay, but even knowing all that I knew about gut health prior to the past year, my appreciation for the role our gut microbiome plays keeps getting stronger. IT DOES SO MUCH. And I’m sure you all will appreciate absorbing as much info about this topic as I have.

With that being said, we’re going back, back to the beginning. To the beginning of chronic disease, illness, and general unwellness. And where do all of these things get their start? In the gut, of course. This ep is alllll about the gut: what is gut health, why does it matter, and how does your gut affect the rest of your health?

This week’s podcast guest is Dr. Asia Muhammad, a doctor of naturopathy, scientist, medical writer, and the co-host of the docu-series The Art of Natural Healing. I first discovered Dr. Asia through her INCREDIBLE infographics and informative posts on Instagram. If you’re looking for digestible tips on gut health, liver health, inflammation, and more, go check her out! 

Okay, ready to get into the good stuff with Dr. Asia? Let’s get juicy—starting with what many of you probably already know (but we’re gonna touch on it regardless): gut health matters.

Why is gut health such an important pillar for everyone?

For starters, you absolutely cannot live without portions of your GI tract, says Dr. Asia. And it’s not just for the literal function (excretion) you might think of. Not to knock the importance of that, of course, but your gut plays a MUCH larger role in overall health and wellness. 

At least half of Americans have some kind of chronic disease and that’s just what’s been diagnosed; the actual number might be a lot higher than we think—whether because of healthcare access or our tendency to downplay symptoms and normalize feeling unwell.

So, what do nearly all chronic diseases have in common? Chronic inflammation. And chronic inflammation is almost always linked back to the gut/gastrointestinal tract (GI) in some way. “It’s imperative for anybody with health issues to just focus in some part on gut function,” says Dr. Asia. 

“I’ve seen, I don’t know, thousands of cases over the course of my career,” she explains, “and I’ve not seen a case where somebody has chronic illnesses and does not have some type of GI dysbiosis.”

Okay, but how is your gut related to the rest of your health?

So, you might know that your gut contains TRILLIONS of bacteria (both good and bad), and this collection of bacteria is known as your microbiome. Well, this bacteria can actually create toxins and chemicals of their own, which can influence your entire system. 

Dr. Asia tells us that within 30 MINUTES of eating and sending food to your gut, there are detectable differences that can be measured within the gut and throughout your bloodstream and body. For example, elevated levels of inflammation-inducing LPs (endotoxins) can show up on a blood test within 30 minutes of eating a greasy meal. The LPs are actually released into your bloodstream by gram-negative bacteria (basically a more resilient, often antibiotic-resistant type of bacteria) within your gut.

Why does this happen? Gram-negative bacteria and the endotoxins it produces can weaken the junctions that keep the walls of your gut intact, leading to something known as “leaky gut” (also known as gut permeability). And with the walls weakened, these endotoxins can, essentially, slip through the cracks and cause inflammation throughout the body.

And how does this relate back to chronic disease? A healthy gut microbiome will be very diverse, especially with lots of families of good bacteria (responsible for maintaining balance within the gut and even helping with functions like neurotransmitters and serotonin). And this type of healthy gut diversity is usually the result of a healthy, diverse diet. 

But your gut also probably has some not-so-great bacteria in it (like the gram-negative bacteria mentioned above). People with autoimmune disorders or other chronic diseases will usually have higher concentrations of gram-negative bacteria, leading to more LPs and inflammation.

What else causes systemic inflammation? 

Let’s start by noting that all inflammation isn’t bad. Localized, acute inflammation serves an important purpose in wound healing, and more widespread inflammation can help fight viruses and bacteria. (A little ironic that the thing it can help destroy can also be an indirect source of inflammation, right?!)

Okay, but systemic (or chronic) inflammation—where you’re seeing it all throughout the body, and it’s persistent and hanging around long-term—is what’s closely related to chronic disease. Aside from greasy food, inflammation can also be caused by:

  • stagnant liver function,
  • sugar consumption,
  • environmental toxins,
  • chronic stress,
  • gut microbiome imbalances,
  • and more.

Since we mentioned liver function, let’s dive into that for a minute (we’ll go into this much deeper in the episode).

So, your liver and gut are in constant communication. Most of the blood that the liver receives comes from your gut. And the liver sort of acts like a screening system—making sure the blood is safe to traverse the entire body. After this screening process, the liver sends some of the blood (containing toxins, hormones, etc.) back to the gut to be (ideally) excreted. Also involved in this process? The kidneys. They’ll jump in and help filter and remove some of these toxins as well. 

When we’re ingesting potentially inflammatory foods or exposing ourselves to environmental toxins (and even if we live as healthy as possible), we need our gut, liver, and kidneys to be functioning at their best. Which brings us to a few tips from Dr. Asia… 

Tangible Ways to Support Your Gut, Liver, & Kidneys

What I’m loving about this season of What’s the Juice so far is how many of my guests are giving us all some invaluable, tangible ways to improve our health. And they’re all relatively easy to incorporate into our everyday routines. For supporting your liver and kidneys, Dr. Asia suggests implementing a few changes:

  • Get better sleep
  • Up your water intake (could be as simple as drinking one more cup or bottle of water each day to start)
  • Be mindful of your salt consumption 
  • Consume more parsley (a great kidney-supporting herb!). If you’re having trouble drinking more plain water or just want to spice things up a bit, Dr Asia suggests adding cucumber slices and parsley to your water for a kidney-nourishing refresh.
  • Eat more plants/cruciferous vegetables (aim for 30 different types of plants per week)
  • Add milk thistle into your diet/routine (an herb that supports both your liver and kidneys)
  • Take probiotics and/or fiber (but have your gut microbiome tested first!)

Tune into the episode for allll the juicy goodness—including a deeper dive into fatty liver syndrome and liver & kidney detox—in this ep! And please share your thoughts with me on our NEW IG, @shoporganicolivia

xoxo,

Olivia

Follow Dr. Asia Muhammad on Instagram

Visit Dr. Asia’s websiteWatch The Art of Natural Healing on Amazon Prime

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