Digestion and a Healthy Gut for Immunity
It’s hardly new news that the gastrointestinal tract is important to human health.
In this Blog we will explore exactly how vital good gut health is for you!
It transports food from the mouth to the stomach, converts it into nutrients that are absorbed and stored energy, and sends waste back out of the body. If you don’t properly nourish yourself, you don’t live or you live poorly. It’s that simple!
But in recent years, scientists have discovered that the gastrointestinal system has an even bigger, more complex job than previously appreciated. It’s been linked to numerous aspects of health that have seemingly nothing to do with digestion, from immunity to emotional stress to chronic illnesses, including cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
Having a healthy gut is an important part of living a healthy life.
A healthy gastrointestinal tract is better able to break down food and absorb critical nutrients. An upset or inflamed stomach can put a stop to all your activities. When your gut is healthy it supports the health of your entire body, from your immune function to your emotions.
Healthy gut bacteria
Healthy adults typically house over 1,000 species of bacteria in their gut. This “microbiome” has been connected with various aspects of health, including emotions, weight, and immune function. Eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits can help diversify the healthful bacteria in your gut. Supplementation with probiotics can also be beneficial. Take one PB Assist+ three times daily with food for 10 days to promote colonization of friendly digestive flora.
Why is gut health important?
Everyone’s microbiome is unique, but there are a few generalities about what’s healthy and what’s not. “In healthy people, there is a diverse array of organisms,” says Dr. Gail Hecht, chair of the American Gastroenterological Association Centre for Gut Microbiome Research & Education. (Most of those organisms are bacteria, but there are viruses, fungi and other microbes as well.) “In an unhealthy individual, there’s much less diversity, and there seems to be an increase of bacteria we associate with disease.”
Hecht stresses the word associate because scientists don’t know for sure which comes first—whether bacteria influence disease risk or whether existing disease influences gut bacteria. Most likely, she says, both are true. “We’re still lacking specific proof of how this connection works, but we know it’s there.”
Some bacteria fight inflammation, while others promote it. When the gut works as it should, these two types keep each other in check. But when that delicate balance is thrown off, inflammatory bacteria can take over, and they can produce metabolites that pass through the lining of the gut and into the bloodstream, spreading the inflammation to other parts of the body.
Specific types of bacteria in the gut can lead to other conditions as well. Studies in both animals and humans have linked some bacteria to lower immune function, others to greater risk of asthma and allergies and still others to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and some cancers.
How can Essential Oils help digestion?
The best way to a healthy gut is to evaluate your nutritional habits. You can start by cutting out substances likely to irritate your intestinal linings, such as caffeine, alcohol, or refined sugars.
Additionally, it can be beneficial to add in restorative substances like healthy fats, probiotics, and amino acids. Try using the doTERRA Lifelong Vitality Pack to supplement your intake of omegas, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals.
In the last few years, there has been an increasing awareness about the important role our digestive system plays in maintaining overall health. Hippocrates said: "All disease begins in the gut."
There are a variety of things we can do to help support our digestive health, beginning with what we eat. Focusing on nutrient-dense, fibre-rich and probiotics foods can significantly improve digestive health. Other lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, improving sleep and staying active can help maintain healthy digestion.
Because of their anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic qualities, Essential Oils can be a great way to naturally prevent and treat digestive issues such as nausea, constipation and cramping.
Toxic Load and Digestion
Sometimes, if the lining of the small intestine is not working optimally, unwanted substances may leak into the bloodstream. This is often referred to as “leaky gut.”
As a result, the body’s intestines are less able to produce the digestive enzymes necessary for absorbing essential nutrients. Reducing your body’s toxic load is an important step. Taking a drop of Tangerine or Lemon Essential Oil internally each day, morning and evening, can help your body cleanse itself.
Essential oils for nausea
- Ginger - morning sickness and travel sickness
- Peppermint - over indulgence, feeling nauseous with a headache, nauseous with heat around the abdominal area. For children and during pregnancy try the gentler Spearmint Essential Oil for a similar effect
- Lemon - an uplifting fresh scent to help overcome feelings of nausea
Traditional - To treat nausea simply open the bottle of Essential Oil and inhale deeply for a few breaths, for the next 30 minutes repeat every 5 minutes until symptoms improve.
Treatment on the run - Place a drop of Essential Oil on your shirt collar (test on the fabric first to ensure the oil won't stain) or place a drop of Essential Oil on a tissue and tuck into bra or singlet strap. The fresh aroma will help you feel better throughout the day.
Relaxing treatment - Place 1 to 2 drops in 5mls carrier oil and gently apply to the abdomen starting at the top of your right-side hip travelling up under the right ribs then left towards left ribs and down towards the top of the left hip continue in a circular motion and breathe deeply. Massage briefly and gently so as not to upset your stomach further.
Essential Oils for Digestive Help and Support
For everyday digestive support, use DigestZen Softgels or Essential Oil. Both contain a blend of essential oils to aid in the digestion of food, soothe occasional stomach upset, and reduce uncomfortable gas and bloating. Keep them on hand for a healthy, natural, and gentle way to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Digestion and healthy gut tips
- Rub DigestZen Touch on the abdomen
- Take one to two drops of Peppermint to alleviate occasional stomach upset
- During a long car ride, diffuse or place a drop of Ginger in the palm of your hand and inhale
- Take one drop of Lemon in water for cleansing and digestive benefits
- Take one to three DigestZen TerraZyme veggie capsules with meals throughout the day to promote the digestive process and absorption of nutrients
- Add a few drops of DigestZen to water to take internally
Slow digestion can cause us to feel heavy, blocked and full in our stomach. Poor digestion may be the result of stress, over eating, or a weak digestive system. Essential oils to help with poor digestion tend to be warming and stimulating.
- Ginger - warming, stimulating, eases nausea
- Black Pepper - tones tissue, warming, stimulant
- Rosemary - stimulates the digestive organs such as liver and gallbladder
- Lemongrass - warming and stimulates digestion
- Lemon - stimulates digestive fluids, helps us feel clean and refreshed
Hot compress - For hot compress add 2 to 3 drops of Essential Oil to a bowl of warm to hot water. Submerge a face washer in the water then wring out excess water. Place compress over the abdomen and replace as the compress cools down. You may also place the compress over your lower back too.
Massage - Make a 2.5% dilution blend; 5 drops of Essential Oil to 10mls carrier oil and apply to the abdomen in a clockwise direction and to the lower back. Essential Oils that have warming properties can irritate sensitive skin and prolonged use can also cause sensitisation, therefore, it is best to check skin reactions prior to use and not to use a single or blend of Essential Oils continuously for more than three weeks in a row.
Other support for poor digestion
- Movement - a short walk after meals can encourage digestive movement
- Deep breathing - a deep breath causes the diaphragm to push into the upper portion of the intestines stimulating movement in the intestine
- Relax and rest - poor digestion can be a result of stress. A part of the stress response is to divert blood away from the digestive system to skeletal muscles preparing us to fight or for flight. A rest after meals for 5 to 10 minutes can help us relax and encourage our body to restore function to the digestive system. You might like to use a rest period to practise deep breathing to further enhance relaxation
A short and sharp pain in the abdomen may be caused by intestinal spasming.
Peppermint Essential Oil has been shown to decrease spasming in the intestine and may also be useful in the treatment irritable bowel syndrome. Other helpful Essential Oils that have carminative and anti-spasmodic properties include -
Massage - make a 2.5% dilution blend; 5 drops of Essential Oil to 10mls carrier oil and apply to the abdomen in a clockwise direction and to the lower back.
Compress - for feelings of heat and inflammation use a cold compress and for spasms, a hot compress will help. Add 2 to 3 drops of Essential Oil to a bowl of warm to hot water. Submerge a face washer then wring out excess water. Place the compress over the abdomen and replace as needed. You may also place the compress over your lower back too.
As a final thought, just as a healthy gut can influence emotional health, your emotions can impact your digestive health. Reducing and managing stress can help to maximise the health of your gut. Get good sleep at night, be mindful, and take care of yourself emotionally.
Love Melissa // Health & Wealth