You have probably all heard or read how important gut health is to your overall health, and to the health of your growing baby, but do you really understand why, and more importantly, how to implement strategies to support your gut health?
As I have mentioned in previous articles, fertility and preconception care is not just all about hormones and periods! Falling pregnant is so reliant on good overall health, and a great place to start is the gut.
I recently had a lovely lady come to my property to help us prepare for the fruit orchard and gigantic vegie patch we are going to plant to nourish our family. She insisted that 12 months preparation time was necessary to ensure the soil and its rich microbial environment was optimal to feed and nurture our garden. It got me thinking that the way I view preconcpetion care is not too dissimilar to the way a horticulturist views the soil.
Before you plant a tree and in order for it to grow and thrive, you must tend to the soil and nourish the ground. Water it, tend to it and spend time on it.
One must not be impatient and throw plants in willy nilly, or you will not bare the riches of your hard work. Roots cannot break through hard, dry ground, if it is not teeming with microbes and bacteria, the soil will not be rich with trace nutrients and it will not attract worms and bugs to enrich the environment.
The same goes for preparing your body to conceive life.
The gut can be a very inhospitable place, housing parasites, bacteria and have too little good flora to fight the microbial war in your gut. This can create inflammation, irritation to the gut lining and impede on your capacity to absorb and assimilate nutrients essential for fertility. Not to mention this imbalance can put a heck of a load of extra pressure on your liver to detoxify and eliminate more waste.
Therefore, a big part of precpnception care in my clinic is doing a “weed, seed and feed” type cleanse. This generally involves “weeding” out undesirable pathogens from the gut using specific herbs, feeding the gut with the right foods, supporting your liver and seeding by re-inoculating the bowel with lashings of food flora. In some cases, depending on a patient’s digestive symptoms, I will order a thorough stool analysis to screen for parasites and assess good bacteria and enzyme levels.
Why is this important? It is important because nutrients are not only the building blocks for healthy cells, they are important for cellular growth and reproduction and are integral to every biochemical process in your body. If you have competition in your gut for these very nutrients, you can be very low in essential nutrients.
Ways to improve your gut health beyond a structured detox with a qualified practitioner include eliminating foods that dampen good digestive function like sugar and refined carbohydrates, coffee and alcohol, I know, all the fun stuff!! But these foods are nutrient void and provide little other than a quick rush.
Incorporate beautiful fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha to colonose your gut with good bacteria, just be sure to start slowly. Make and incorporate bone broth into your winter diets through soups, stews and slow cooked casseroles. Bone broth contains an array of protein builing block to repair damaged gut lining.
Never underestimate the importance of good gut health. That’s why all Naturopaths learn “when in doubt, treat the gut”.