Our bodies are always looking to heal and get back into a natural balance through a process called homeostasis. This means that your body has the natural capacity to rebuild itself into a healthier body depending on how well you look after it. The motivation behind writing this post is that I see many people who feel that they are too old to make any changes and are happy to accept that they are destined for chronic disease. This is not the case! I have a client in her 70s who has transformed her health over the last 12 months by doing the GAPS diet. She is even studying nutrition online because she is so invested in improving her health as much as she can. She is an inspiration to others.
It can be easy to think that we are destined to suffer from digestive problems, allergies, and other symptoms of chronic disease and that there is no hope to change, especially if we are a little older. However, given the right environment and nourishment, our bodies are capable of healing and much quicker than you may think. Every day is a new opportunity to build a new healthier body.
Most health issues are linked to poor gut health and it is interesting to note that the enterocyte cells (absorption cells) in our gut regenerate every 3 days, which is one of the fastest rates of regeneration in our body. This means that the foods you eat today can really start to make positive changes to the cells and the bacteria in your gut. Within 3 days the enterocyte cells that line our gut and absorb the nutrients from our food will be brand new ones. So focusing on reducing the foods that are causing inflammation (sugar, processed foods, wheat, and gluten) and nourishing these cells with probiotic-rich foods and gelatin-rich bone broth can really make a positive difference to the health of the gut within a matter of days. Please note however that If you have Celiac disease where the villi of the gut have been damaged as a result of an inflammatory response to gluten then this cell regeneration process will take longer. This is due to the considerable damage to the villi (tiny finger-like branches in the lining of our small intestines that increase the surface area and is where nutrients are absorbed)
As an example, if you simply changed your diet by eliminating refined sugar, increasing vegetables, and having a small amount of fermented foods such as sauerkraut every day, this can have such a positive effect of feeding the good bacteria in your gut and starving the bad bacteria that feed on sugar. Our good bacteria regulate the cell regeneration process in our gut so feeding and enhancing our good bacteria is an important step in our healing journey.
As well as the cells of the gut other areas of the body also heal very quickly, for example:
Liver cells only have a lifespan of around 150 days. The liver had an amazing ability to repair and regrow itself due to its rich blood supply. If a surgeon was to remove 70% of the liver it will grow back to its normal healthy size in about 2 months.
Your stomach lining replaces itself every 4 -5 days
The outer layer of skin, the epidermis replaces itself every 35 days.
Taste buds renew themselves every 10 – 14 days. When quitting sugar it takes about 2 – 4 weeks for your taste buds and gut to adjust to a low sugar diet. We also have taste receptors in our gut that influence the release of hormones that control blood sugar, hunger, and appetite. This means that after about 2 – 4 weeks on a no sugar diet your body won’t be craving or needing sugar anymore. Our gut bacteria also play a role in sugar cravings. It is often the bad bacteria in our gut that crave the sugar and not us, so by starving the bad bacteria by cutting out sugar and feeding the good bacteria with fruits and vegetables and other prebiotic and fibre rich foods then our good bacteria will start wanting the foods that feed them and sugar cravings will reduce.
Red blood cells have a lifespan of 4 months then they are destroyed and removed via the liver and spleen. Red blood cells are the body’s vital transport system carrying oxygen to all body tissues and carrying waste away. Our body constantly makes more red blood cells as we can lose a lot through injury or bleeding.
It takes 6 months for a full fingernail to grow and 10 months for a toenail.
Your skeleton is completely replaced every 10 years so you really are a different person from what you were 10 years ago!
Diet and lifestyle can have a major impact on how successful your body is at these regenerations so it is really important to support your body with a healthy whole food diet where you can. However even just making small changes to your health can make positive changes to your physiology.
The important thing is to start taking small steps now. Try not to procrastinate feeling that changing your diet or starting an exercise regime is too big or too scary. Focus on small achievable steps (for example reducing sugar or increasing leafy greens) and celebrating those successes as you go along. This will start to make you feel a little bit better about yourself and keep you motivated. The healthier and happier you feel the more likely you will commit to continuing your healing journey and not give up. You are capable of feeling healthy, energetic, and vibrant at any age.