The Integral Role of Gut Health in Combating Chronic Inflammation

By Joseph Bershad, Certified Functional Nutrition Coach and owner of Re-Root Functional Nutrition Coaching

Have you ever considered how much your gut impacts your overall health? It’s more than just digestion; it’s a key player in everything from our mood to our immune system. Yet, many don’t think about our gut health until something feels off. As a Functional Nutrition Coach, I’ve spent years diving deep into this topic. In this blog post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about the importance of gut health and practical tips and recipes to help you take care of yourself.

The Gut-Brain Connection

The Link:

Modern neurology and gastroenterology have identified a bi-directional communication system between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. This connection means that disturbances in the gut can lead to significant neurological and psychological ramifications, including mood disorders and cognitive disturbances.

Strategies for Optimization:

a). Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential for neuronal health, synaptic plasticity, and mood regulation. Regular consumption can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

b). Fermented Foods: Foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut introduce probiotics, which have shown the potential to modulate mood and cognitive function by balancing gut flora.

c). Stress Management: Chronic stress can perturb gut flora. Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and even journaling can mitigate the adverse effects of stress on gut health.

d). Caffeine Moderation: While caffeine can enhance alertness, overconsumption can lead to gut disturbances and sleep disruptions. It’s essential to find a balance that works for your body.

e). Physical Activity: Aerobic exercise, mainly, has been linked to increased serotonin production, enhancing mood and gut motility.

Recipe: Omega-rich Salmon Salad

Ingredients: Wild-caught salmon fillet, arugula, spinach, sliced avocado, crushed walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, and a hint of dill.

Benefits: Salmon is a powerhouse of Omega-3s, which support brain health and reduce inflammation. Walnuts, another source of Omega-3s, complement the salmon, while the greens provide essential micronutrients that further support brain health.

Immune System Regulation

The Link:

The gut is home to many of the body’s immune cells. This makes it a critical player in immune responses, and any imbalance can lead to an overactive or underactive immune system.

Strategies for Optimization:

a). Diverse Diet: Consuming various fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can fortify immune defenses by providing a range of essential nutrients and antioxidants.

b). Sleep Hygiene: Deep, restorative sleep is crucial for optimal immune function. It aids in cellular repair, toxin elimination, and memory consolidation.

c). Hydration: Water is essential for cellular function, nutrient transportation, and toxin elimination.

d). Alcohol Moderation: Chronic alcohol consumption can suppress immune function and disrupt gut microbiota. It’s essential to consume in moderation and be aware of its effects on your body.

e). Antioxidant-rich Foods: Foods like berries, nuts, and green tea combat oxidative stress, bolstering immune function and reducing inflammation.

Recipe: Berry Bliss Smoothie

Ingredients: A medley of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries blended with organic spinach, chia seeds, almond milk, and a touch of raw honey.

Benefits: Berries are antioxidant powerhouses, neutralizing free radicals that can damage cells. Spinach provides iron, vital for immune cell function, while chia seeds offer a fiber boost, aiding digestion and promoting gut health.

Barrier Function of the Gut

The Link:

The intestinal epithelium is a selective barrier, determining what enters the bloodstream. A compromised barrier can lead to a ‘leaky gut,’ where toxins and pathogens can enter the bloodstream, leading to systemic inflammation and potential autoimmune reactions.

Strategies for Optimization:

a). Bone Broth Consumption: Rich in collagen and amino acids, bone broth aids in fortifying and repairing the gut lining.

b). NSAID Moderation: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, while effective for pain relief, can erode the gut barrier when used chronically. It’s essential to use them judiciously and consider natural alternatives when possible.

c). Zinc-rich Foods: Foods like pumpkin seeds, lentils, and beef are high in zinc, essential for epithelial integrity and repair.

d). Artificial Sweetener Avoidance: These can disrupt the gut’s microbial balance, leading to dysbiosis. Opt for natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit.

e). Glutamine Supplementation: This amino acid is a primary fuel source for intestinal cells, supporting barrier function. It can be found in foods like beef, chicken, and fish or as a supplement.

Recipe: Hearty Lentil Soup

Ingredients: Green lentils, bone broth, diced carrots, celery, onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and cumin.

Benefits: Lentils are a rich source of fiber, essential amino acids, and zinc. Bone broth, with its rich collagen content, aids in repairing and maintaining the gut lining.

Balancing the Microbiome

The Link:

The gut microbiome, a complex ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, plays a pivotal role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. An imbalance, known as dysbiosis, can lead to various issues, including chronic inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and increased susceptibility to infections.

Strategies for Optimization:

a). Prebiotic Foods: Foods like garlic, onions, and asparagus nourish beneficial bacteria, promoting a balanced microbiome.

b). Judicious Antibiotic Use: While antibiotics are sometimes necessary, they must be used responsibly to preserve microbial balance. Always take an entire course as prescribed and consider probiotic supplementation during and after treatment.

c). Regular Consumption of Fermented Foods: Foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut introduce beneficial bacteria and aid in maintaining microbial harmony.

d). Processed Food Avoidance: Artificial additives, preservatives, and high sugar content can disrupt the microbiome. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods.

e). Regular Physical Activity: Emerging research suggests that exercise can promote a healthy microbiome by increasing the diversity of gut bacteria.

Recipe: Kimchi Fried Rice

Ingredients: Organic brown rice, kimchi, diced vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, peas), sesame oil, organic tamari, green onions, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Benefits: Kimchi, a fermented Korean delicacy, is a probiotic powerhouse, enhancing gut flora. Brown rice provides essential fiber, aiding digestion and promoting gut health.

Efficient Nutrient Absorption

The Link:

Optimal gut health ensures that the nutrients from the food we consume are efficiently extracted and absorbed into the bloodstream. A compromised gut can lead to malabsorption, where essential nutrients are not adequately absorbed, leading to deficiencies.

Strategies for Optimization:

a). Fiber-rich Diet: Foods like whole grains, legumes, and vegetables facilitate digestion and promote regular bowel movements.

b). Adequate Hydration: Drinking water aids enzymatic digestion and helps absorb water-soluble nutrients.

c). Limit Fried Foods: These can coat the intestines, impeding nutrient absorption. Opt for grilled, baked, or steamed options.

d). Digestive Enzyme-rich Foods: Foods like pineapples and papayas contain enzymes that aid in the breakdown of macronutrients, facilitating absorption.

e). Mindful Eating: Chewing thoroughly, eating slowly, and without distractions can enhance digestion and absorption.

Recipe: Pineapple Chicken Stir-fry

Ingredients: Free-range chicken, bell peppers, fresh pineapple chunks, ginger, garlic, organic tamari, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Benefits: Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that aids protein digestion. Chicken provides essential amino acids, while bell peppers offer a rich source of vitamin C, enhancing iron absorption.

Reduction of Inflammatory Foods

The Link:

Certain foods, especially those processed or high in artificial additives, can incite inflammation in the gut, disrupting its homeostasis and leading to various digestive issues.

Strategies for Optimization:

a). Limit Refined Sugars: These can trigger inflammation and feed harmful bacteria in the gut.

b). Incorporate Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Foods like turmeric, ginger, and green tea can combat inflammation at its roots.

c). Dairy Moderation: Some individuals find dairy inflammatory due to lactose intolerance or sensitivity to dairy proteins.

d). Home Cooking: This ensures ingredient quality and allows for control over cooking methods, ensuring meals are nutritious and gentle on the gut.

e). Regular Hydration: Drinking water helps flush out toxins and reduces the concentration of inflammatory substances in the gut.

Recipe: Turmeric-infused Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients: Cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), turmeric-tahini dressing, pumpkin seeds, and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Benefits: Turmeric contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory compound. When combined with black pepper, its absorption is enhanced. Quinoa provides essential amino acids and is gluten-free, making it gentle on the gut.

Connection to Other Diseases

The Link:

Gut dysbiosis and inflammation can predispose individuals to conditions like IBS, Crohn’s, and even certain autoimmune disorders. A healthy gut can act as a preventive measure against the onset of these conditions.

Strategies for Optimization:

a). Regular Medical Check-ups: Early detection and intervention can prevent the progression of potential gut-related issues.

b). Attuned Body Awareness: Recognizing and addressing unusual symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and treatment.

c). Stress Management: Chronic stress can exacerbate gut issues, so finding effective coping mechanisms is crucial.

d). Regular Physical Activity: Exercise enhances overall health, including gut health, by promoting regular bowel movements and reducing inflammation.

e). Limit Processed Foods: These can strain the gut and lead to imbalances in gut flora.

Recipe: Vegetable Zoodle Bowl

Ingredients: Zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes, homemade pesto sauce (basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic), and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Benefits: Zucchini is a low-inflammatory food that is easy on the digestive system. It provides essential nutrients without the gluten load of traditional pasta. Basil, the main ingredient in pesto, has anti-inflammatory properties.


The intricate workings of the gastrointestinal tract are a testament to the body’s remarkable ability to maintain balance and health. Recognizing and addressing the signs of gut imbalances is about alleviating immediate discomfort and ensuring long-term well-being. While the journey to optimal gut health can be complex, it’s worth undertaking.

For those grappling with gut-related symptoms, remember that you’re not alone. Whether you embark on this journey independently, armed with knowledge, or seek the guidance of professionals, the path to a healthier gut is within reach. I sincerely hope this guide serves as a valuable resource in your pursuit of holistic health and well-being.

To a harmonious gut and a life of vitality! Here’s to evidence-based, holistic health and well-being.

Don’t keep putting off feeling better any longer; today’s the day to start making a difference.

Are you suffering from symptoms of poor gut health?

You have three options…

Option One: Do nothing.

It’s tempting to ignore the signs and hope they’ll disappear alone. But here’s the truth: untreated gut issues can impact your overall well-being and quality of life. If you continue going about your days with unaddressed gut issues, you can only expect it to get worse.

Option Two: Treat yourself.

Taking matters into your own hands is a brave and empowering step. You always have the option to educate yourself about gut health and make positive lifestyle changes. The issue with a DIY approach is that often, the symptoms get addressed but NOT the root cause, meaning the underlying problem is still there.

Option Three: Get a professional to help.

Sometimes, seeking professional guidance is the most effective and efficient way to tackle gut health head-on. Consulting with Joseph Bershad a functional nutrition coach who can provide expert advice, accurate diagnosis of the root cause, and personalized treatment options. We can help you navigate through the complexities of your condition and develop a targeted plan for your well-being.

Three Ways To Work With Joseph at Re-Root Functional Nutrition

Please check out my website at to learn more about my practice and the services noted above.

Note: The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not replace personalized medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional or functional nutrition coach for individualized guidance and treatment.

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