Go With Your Gut: Your Second Brain

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“All disease begins in the gut.” ~Hippocrates, The Father of Medicine

Have you ever heard the expression “trust your gut”? What about those intuitive “gut feelings” we all experience? There’s very good reason for those “butterflies” in your tummy, so let’s shine some light on this fascinating topic.

Your body actually has two brains…. one in your head, and one in your gut.

Interestingly, your brain and gastrointestinal tract are composed of the same type of tissue! How cool is that? With a simple thought, brain neurons fire tiny sparks of electricity, which ignite the central nervous system (brain plus spinal chord). On the other hand, when we’re driven by intuition, the gut actually sends information to your brain via the enteric nervous system (the gastrointestinal tract). Think of it as your emotional GPS.

Your gut does so much more than simply digest food. For example, the bacteria living there (around 100 trillion strong) have a profound effect on your mental health, heart function, skin, mood, weight, and overall wellness. In addition, 70-80% of your immune system is controlled by gut tissue (gut-associated lymphoid tissue)! Understanding this alone can change your entire approach to health.

Your gut microflora (bacteria) outnumber human cells by a factor of ten to one, and imbalances in these bacteria have been linked to autoimmune diseases (including lupus, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and Parkinson’s), behavioral issues, autism, immunity, allergies, skin problems (dryness, eczema, and psoriasis), depression, anxiety, and even cancer.

So, how do we stress the gut?

#1 Overuse of medication and antibacterial products

Seventy percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. And even though you may not be taking antibiotics, they can still make their way onto your plate through meat consumption, as 80% of antibiotics in the United States are fed to farm animals (a great reason to buy organic!). These drugs damage your intestinal lining and wreak havoc on friendly bacteria populations.

#2 We are TOO clean!

It’s no secret that our society has become obsessed with antibacterial products. We over-sanitize at every turn! A large percentage of your good bacteria live on the skin, working hard to protect you from potentially harmful foreign invaders in the outside world. Continual use of antibacterials can corrupt your innate microbial balance and weaken the immune system. Not to mention, many antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, which may alter hormones and interfere with heart function. Keep it simple: wash with a small amount of plain soap and water.

#3 Poor Diet

Perhaps the most significant factor causing destruction in the gut is the Standard American Diet (SAD)- loaded with processed foods, excess sugars, refined grains, and genetically modified ingredients. Sugar and refined grains, especially, compromise your beneficial gut bacteria, promote inflammation, and can lead to an overgrowth of yeast. The simple consumption of probiotics, fermented foods, raw vegetables and leafy greens can work wonders in your gut!

For true lifelong wellness, one must learn how to maintain a clean and healthy gut. In a follow-up The Paper Trail article, I will provide some super easy tips and habits for taking care of this incredibly important system- our second brain.


Mercola, J. Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Repair Itself. Harmony Books, 2015

Axe, J. Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure it. HarperCollins, 2016

Junger, A. Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Elimination the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health. HarperCollins, 2013

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8 Ways to Naturally Boost your Immune System

Front Page, Health


It’s that time of year. Cold and flu season is here.

Luckily, there are many tricks you can add to your health toolbox in order to strengthen your immune system and fight off the sniffles. Daily immune support is the key! Try one or two of these easy immune-boosting tips while winter is still looming!

GARLIC contains allicin and other sulfur-based compounds that act as anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agents. This herb is teeming with medicinal properties that support the immune system, prevent cancer, fight allergies, and more. For optimal health benefits, eat garlic in its raw form, as heat weakens some of its healing components. When using garlic to cook, let it sit for a few minutes after crushing and mincing (this activates its potent enzymes) and add toward the end of cooking.


GINGER is a very effective anti-inflammatory that stimulates circulation and balances the immune system, restoring it to proper function. In addition, ginger warms the body and can promote healthy sweating, which is helpful at fighting cold and flu infection.

TURMERIC  is the wonder plant. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has strong antioxidant abilities (protecting your cells) and helps to maintain your body’s inflammation response. Modern science is consistently discovering new benefits of turmeric, every week it seems. Honestly, I cannot recommend it enough! Turmeric is a powerful medicinal plant that supports the immune system, protects the brain, staves off cancer, detoxes the liver, amps up fat digestion, calms arthritis, and much more! Turmeric is available in many forms: as a supplement, an extract, a powder (ground spice) used to cook, or the fresh root.

ELDERBERRY EXTRACT delivers bioavailable (easier for your body to use) anthocyanins (flavonoids with incredible antioxidant potential) and can enhance your body’s defense against viral infections, like influenza, by inhibiting its growth and shortening the duration of sickness. Check your local health food store for an assortment of elderberry products, including tinctures, syrups, lozenges, etc.  Red, purple, black, or blue foods typically contain high levels of anthocyanins,  so enjoy plenty of berries, eggplant, purple cabbage, black currants, grapes, beets, cherries, and black rice.

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES flood your body with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and immune-boosting nutrients, which help to protect and fight off disease. Here are some fantastic options: bell peppers, berries, camu berries, citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit), cruciferous veggies (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, turnips, and watercress), dark leafy greens, mushrooms, and papaya.

MOVING YOUR BODY mobilizes T-cells, a type of white blood cell that protects you against infection. People who exercise regularly have fewer and milder colds and sickness, and according to Dr. Brian Clement, you can heal up to eight times faster with regular exercise. Not only does body movement help your immune system fight off bacteria and viral infections, but it fills your body with life-giving oxygen and stimulates the removal of acidic waste and toxins. And, you will SWEAT, which is very important for overall health and wellness.

HYDRATE. Your immune system is greatly taxed when you are dehydrated, and some experts estimate that 70 percent of Americans do not drink enough water. Make the effort to consume more fluids, and don’t underestimate the healing potential of hot teas (try pau d’arco, nettle leaf, astragulus or green tea). Try this simple tea recipe!


Turmeric Ginger Tea

A perfect elixir for healing, decreasing inflammation, and flushing those pesky toxins!

  • 1 1/2 liters of filtered water (~6 cups)
  • A few inches of turmeric root*
  • A few inches of ginger root*
  • 1 tablespoon local honey
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Wash, peel and mince the turmeric and ginger root. Keeping the skin on is perfectly okay, too.
  • In a medium pot, bring water to a boil, cool for 2-3 minutes, and then stir in turmeric and ginger.
  • Steep, covered, for at least 20 minutes, and then pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove root pieces.
  • Add honey, lemon, taste, tweak, and then soak up the goodness!
  • Store in the refrigerator and reheat as desired, or add to water consumed during the day.

* If using ground spices, try 1-2 teaspoons of each with 4 cups of water (depending on desired strength).


Fuhrman, J. Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free. Harper Collins Publishers, 2011.




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