In medical society, the intricacy of gut and gut health is a popular topic. It’s interesting to find that through countless studies that gut health is connected to the following: immune system, mood, mental health, endocrine disorders, skin disorders, and cancer. Let us discuss this in detail and the ways to take care of our gut.
The gut microbiome:
The gut microbiome is nothing but the micro-organisms living in the intestines. Roughly 300 – 500 different species of bacteria are in the digestive tract. Few microorganisms are harmful to our health. However numerous microorganisms are greatly useful & are necessary to a healthy body.
7 Signs of an unhealthy gut
Life changes in our current life such as high stress, inadequate sleep, eating processed & high-sugar foods, and taking antibiotics to harm the gut microbiome. This affects other parts of our health, like the brain, heart, immune system, skin, weight, hormone levels, ability to absorb nutrients, and even the development of cancer.
There are numerous ways we can get an unhealthy gut. Seven of the common signs are as follows:
1. A high-sugar diet
A diet with more processed foods and added sugars decreases the number of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance causes increased sugar cravings, damaging the gut further. High quantities of refined sugars, specifically high-fructose corn syrup lead to inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be the precursor to many diseases and cancers.
2. Upset stomach
Stomach troubles like gas, bloating (feeling full), constipation, diarrhea, heartburn are all indications of an unhealthy gut.
3. Sleep troubles / constant fatigue
An unhealthy gut leads to sleep troubles such as insomnia /less sleep and thus leading to chronic tiredness. Most of the serotonin hormone (affects mood and sleep), is secreted in the gut. So damage to the gut can affect your sleep. Some sleep disturbances have also been linked to risk for fibromyalgia. (musculoskeletal pain with fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues)
4. Unintended weight changes
Gaining / losing weight without changing diet or exercise may be an alert to an unhealthy gut. This impairs the body’s capacity to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Weight loss may be the result of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). And weight gain may be driven by insulin resistance (urge to overeat due to reduced nutrient absorption)
5. Skin irritation
Skin infections like eczema (itchy inflammation) may be due to a damaged gut. Inflammation in the gut by a poor diet/food allergies cause increased “dripping” of certain proteins into the body, which can irritate the skin and cause conditions such as eczema.
6. Food intolerances
Food intolerances are the effect of difficulty digesting a few foods. This occurs by the poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting the trigger foods and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. There is some proof that food allergies are related to gut health.
7. Autoimmune conditions
It’s assumed that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and change the proper functioning of the immune system. This leads to autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.
4 Methods to test gut health
1. Visual Assessment
The appearance of your poop is an excellent indicator. It indicates how your digestion is functioning, and what foods you are absorbing r not absorbing well. You can do this every time you go, and it changes from meal to meal. That is why it is a powerful tool.
2. The beef test
This test helps find out the duration food stays in the digestive system before it passes. It gives insight on whether or not digestion is slow and you’re constipated, or if it’s too fast and you’re not absorbing nutrients.
3. Functional stool analysis
This test gives a full view of what’s going on in your gut. Getting this involves sending a stool sample to a lab for inspection, and the results can have a surprising effect on how you manage gut health.
4. Lactose breath test
One can take this test in case of severe bloating. This test alters the diet for about 24 hours, drinking a sugar drink and taking breath samples over a span of time. This is to test whether or not you have a bacteria overgrowth in the small intestine.
What you can do for your gut health?
1. Reduce your stress levels
Chronic high levels of stress are difficult on your whole body. Ways to lower stress are meditation, walking, massage, spending quality time with friends or family, lowering caffeine intake, laughing, or having a pet.
Learn more about Ways to Manage Your Stress Levels
2. Get ample sleep
Not getting enough / sufficient sleep has severe consequences not only on your gut health but also on your body. Insufficient sleep may lead to more sleep issues. Prioritize getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
3. Drink water
Drinking lots of water has a useful effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines. And it helps the balance of good bacteria in the gut. It’s an easy thing to do.
4. Eat slowly
Chewing food thoroughly and eating meals more slowly facilitates full digestion & absorption of nutrients. This aids with digestive discomfort and maintains a healthy gut.
5. Take a prebiotic/probiotic
Intake of a prebiotic/probiotic supplement to your diet enhances your gut health. Prebiotics provide “food” to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. And probiotics are live good bacteria. Inquire your physician for choosing a probiotic or prebiotic supplement.
6. Consider a diet change
Reducing the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods that you eat improves your gut health. Eat plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein. A diet high in fiber has proved to enhance your healthy gut.
7. Check for food intolerances
Look out for these symptoms: cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux. If you are experiencing this you might have a food intolerance. Try stopping common trigger foods to see if the symptoms improve.
8. Teeth and your gut.
Brush and floss your teeth frequently. Regular dental cleanings and check-ups are important as bacteria from the mouth can get into the stomach and cause issues.
Susan Mintz, of Brunswick County Health Department, said, “Limit sugary foods as they cause yeast to grow and it can destroy tender gut balances. Avoid prepackaged foods and stay away from processed foods.”
9. Use more spices.
Use garlic, turmeric, ginger, and other favorite delicious spices. These spices help to rid your gut of harmful bacteria. They won’t hurt the good bacteria.
10. Limit artificial sweeteners.
Another human trial showed the same blood sugar increase. For gut health, it may be best to avoid artificial sweeteners altogether.
Types of food that are good for gut health:
Diet and gut health are interrelated. There are various foods to eat that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. These foods comprise:
1. High-fiber foods
High-fiber foods: legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, and leeks show a positive impact on gut health.
2. Garlic & onion
Garlic & onion have a few anti-cancer and immune system enhancing properties. They are closely tied to the primary functions of the gut.
3. Fermented foods
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kefir are great dietary sources of probiotics. Their benefits on the gut microbiome are well studied.
Fermented food contains a high count of lactobacilli bacteria, which are useful. They convert sugar to acids and alcohols:
4. Collagen-boosting foods
Collagen-rich foods such as bone broth and salmon are beneficial. Add a variety of foods, like mushrooms, good dairy, certain meats.
5. Eat more whole grains, nuts, veggies, beans & fruits.
Barley, oats, quinoa, bulger, and other whole grains have fiber that helps our intestines and makes things move through. Eating more whole grains has been shown to increase the types of bacteria in our gut. The same is true of nuts, so pick up a variety of walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or almonds. A serving is what fits into the palm of the hand.
6. Eat more foods with polyphenols.
Foods that are rich in polyphenols, such as dark chocolate, have anti-inflammatory properties, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels and decrease cellular stress. Foods rich in polyphenols are Red grapes, Almonds, Onions, Green tea, Blueberries, Broccoli.
The human gut is more complex than we know. And from this article, you can understand how deeply interconnected our body functions. So right from improper dental hygiene to not getting enough sleep, there are various reasons for an unhealthy gut.
A healthy gut contributes to a healthy immune system, heart & brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep, and effective digestion, and it may help prevent some cancers and autoimmune diseases. There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to positively affect your gut health and your overall health as a result.
Look out for these signs and symptoms if needed go to the doctor. Eat healthily, sleep well, avoid processed food and destress.
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