Our gastrointestinal system, or gut, has been getting a lot of attention lately (the recent rise in popularity of the ancient drink kombucha is due to more than just its delicious taste). And with about 60 to 70 million Americans affected by digestive diseases and evidence suggesting that gut bacteria may play a role in obesity and diabetes, it’s easy to see why.
The gut comprises a group of organs that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. It serves many essential roles, including the intake and absorption of nutrients and water.
There are many factors that can impact your gut health, including how your body is built, your family and genetic history, how you manage stress, and what you eat.
It’s also a crucial component in your overall health and well-being, as it also acts as a communication center for the brain and is at the frontline of fighting disease.
The three organizations below can help set you on the right track to achieving and maintaining a healthy gut through various approaches, from tips to getting started with fermentation to providing information about the importance of gut microbiota.
It was a life-changing experience that inspired nutritionist and public speaker Julie Daniluk to start Daniluk Consulting.
“I battled a digestive infection that nearly killed me in Thailand,” said Daniluk. “The infection ravaged the lining of my gut. I was no longer able to digest starches and developed allergies to dozens of different proteins — dairy, wheat, rye, spelt, corn, peanut and potato, just to name a few.”
From the experience, Daniluk wrote ”Meals That Heal Inflammation,” a guidebook to healthy eating and reducing pain.
Daniluk Consulting expands on the theme of restoration that was introduced in the book, offering recipes, resources, and programs for improving gut health.
“My mission is to help others find extraordinary healing through the power of food,” Daniluk said.
It’s no surprise that Daniluk, the former co-host of Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network, would come to work in the field of food and nutrition. She suffered from severe food allergies as a child and realized the transformative power of a natural diet early on.
“When people get such great results by applying what I share, it inspires us to keep researching, creating, and sharing,” Daniluk said.
“I hope to continue to inspire people that healing is possible at any age, with any income level and at any stage of illness. I see miracles every day and know with the right information and a solid commitment to a healing plan, the miracles will continue to happen.”
Gut Microbiota for Health (GMFH)
In 2012, the European Society for Neurogastroenterology and Motility (ESNM) launched the Gut Microbiota for Health (GMFH) platform to share knowledge and promote debate regarding gut microbiota (the gut’s bacterial community).
Dedicated to raising awareness of and interest in microbiota, the platform is geared toward both the scientific and medical communities as well as the general public.
With more than 55,000 members around the globe, the platform has become an international benchmark for gut microbiota information and debate.
The GMFH platform, a resource billed as “by experts for experts,” offers a “news watch” section dedicated to expanding knowledge about the importance of gut microbiota for health and quality of life.
The content is published in English, French, and Spanish and includes interviews with experts, videos, book reviews, and discussions about recent findings from leading international research bodies.
The research and practice section of GMFH is used for promoting knowledge-sharing and debate among researchers, scientists, and healthcare professionals. It offers a selection of discussions about articles from scientific literature, interviews with experts, event reports, e-learning activities, and special publications.
Each year, the organization also hosts the GMFH Summit to bring together leading experts in the field to review the latest research available for overall health and improved nutrition.
Amanda Feifer knew something was wrong even when her doctors didn’t. “My health tanked pretty dramatically following massive doses of antibiotics and all kinds of other medications to treat pain and inflammation,” said Feifer, who runs Phickle, a blog dedicated to fermentation recipes, tips, and tricks.
“I kept going to the doctor asking, ‘What is wrong with me?’ They kept telling me all the test results were great, which sent me to the internet to do my own research. Fermentation kept appearing, so I started a bit of self-experimentation.”
With Phickle, Feifer helps readers get started with fermentation. They can learn on her website as well as with in-person workshops and classes. Topics covered on the blog include easy recipes for making kombucha and kefir, the benefits of kimchi, and beginners’ guides to everything you need to know to start fermenting.
Her book, ”Ferment Your Vegetables,” offers recipes and techniques for best results and easily digestible fermentation science.
“Although the science isn’t definitive on so many of the health claims that people make about fermented foods and drink (I’m looking at you, kombucha), making these foods is so simple that it’s easy for people to try eating them to see if they make a difference in any specific health or gut issues they’re experiencing,” she said. “Even a small improvement can be life changing.”
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Jen Thomas is a journalist and media strategist based in San Francisco. When she’s not dreaming of new places to visit and photograph, she can be found around the Bay Area struggling to wrangle her blind Jack Russell Terrier or looking lost because she insists on walking everywhere. Jen is also a competitive Ultimate Frisbee player, a decent rock climber, a lapsed runner, and an aspiring aerial performer.