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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

A Healthy Gut for a Healthier Life

by Katie Nelson

Some of the of the most common daily health complaints—including digestive issues, food sensitivities, sugar cravings, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, depression, mood swings headaches, allergies and eczema—can all be traced back to our gut and microbiome.

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract has walls with selective membranes and tight junctions to allow passage of essential nutrients while blocking toxins and other foreign substances from entering the bloodstream. However, when the body is bombarded with too much sugar, yeast overgrowth, alcohol, stress, excess antibiotics, parasites or even NSAIDS, little holes begin breaking through the gut’s protective barriers. 

These little holes allow toxins, undigested food particles, and other harmful substances to leak through the gut barrier. Once that occurs, the body mounts an immune response triggering inflammation and wreaking havoc on our health while creating an imbalance in the gut microbiome.  

Our gut microbiome is the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space.  In fact, estimations say our guts contain 100 trillion bacteria, or 10 times as many bacteria cell as cells in our bodies and compromises 70 percent of our immune system.  These bacteria, or gut flora, are essential for optimal health in many ways from helping extract energy from food to building our immune system to protecting against infection and toxics to maintaining normal brain function. 

Each person’s microbiome is as unique as their fingerprint and the make-up depends on type of birth, age, diet, stress level, environment, and other factors. To keep ourselves healthy and highly functioning, it’s best to follow an anti-inflammatory, whole foods diet full of clean, grass fed, wild caught, and colorful food while removing foods that contribute to digestive imbalances. In addition, taking a high-quality probiotic, incorporating gut healing supplements such as glutamine and licorice root, and adding in digestive enzymes when appropriate, can also be beneficial. Also, choosing an appropriate exercise routine can stabilize the stress response in the body, thereby helping to create a healthier, happier gut.

Katie Nelson is a registered dietician and the in-house functional nutritionist at Sixth Avenue Medial Pharmacy located at 508 W. 6th Ave., in Spokane. She specializes in helping patients carve a path to optimal health and performance. For more information call 509-455-9345 or visit

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