Your Gut Affects More Than Just Digestion: Understanding Gut Health

Your Gut Affects More Than Just Digestion: Understanding Gut Health

It used to be thought that your gut and digestion was all very simple.  After further studying this has been proven to not be true. Your gut health has a big impact on your overall health.  Good gut health can impact your immune system, heart health, brain health, improve your mood, healthy sleep, effective digestion, and may prevent some cancer types or autoimmune disease.  If you have an unhealthy gut it can affect your life completely not just make your belly upset. There are a few things to look for that will tell you if you have an unhealthy gut or not.  

What does it mean for your gut to be unhealthy? 

 

This usually means that there is an unbalance in the bacteria that is in your intestines.  Your gut is healthy when there is equilibrium between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria.  The good bacteria in your stomach helps break down the food and get nutrients to the body. Bad bacteria is the kind that can make you sick.  The good bacteria keeps the bad bacteria in check by not allowing there to be enough room for the bad bacteria to grow.  

 

Signs & Symptoms Something Isn’t Right

 

One sign of an unhealthy gut is an upset stomach.  An upset stomach can include gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn.  All of these are signs that you are having issues digesting your food.

Another way you can cause yourself to have an unhealthy gut is by eating a high sugar diet.  A high sugar diet or a diet with lots of processed foods in it can actually decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This type of diet as well can cause inflammation which can lead to other issues not just gut issues. 

If you all of a sudden start gaining or losing weight without changing your diet or exercise routine this may be because of an unhealthy gut. This change in weight can be because you body isn’t absorbing the nutrients it needs the way it should.  Or if you are gaining weight it could mean you have insulin resistance.

Another side effect of an unhealthy gut is it could cause sleep issues. Whether it be constant fatigue, or insomnia. This is caused because serotonin a chemical your body makes in the gut, is needed for a restful sleep.  If there is no production or low production of serotonin your body won’t make enough to give you a good restful night of sleep.

An autoimmune condition, is when your body attacks itself instead of harmful bacteria. If your gut isn’t healthy this could change the function of your immune system causing you to develop an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease. 

Another sign of an unhealthy gut is if you suffer from a food intolerance. A food intolerance is different than a food allergy. A food intolerance is caused from having poor gut bacteria quality. This can cause digesting foods to be difficult and lead to feeling bloated, gasy, having diarrhea, abdominal pain, or nausea.  

There are lots of signs that will show you if you have an unhealthy gut.  Sometimes if the bacteria in your gut isn’t equal it can lead to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  When you eat a lot of red meat or eggs your body breaks those foods down into TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide) which may lead to the build up of cholesterol or even may lead to kidney disease.

 

Equilibrium of healthy gut bacteria is the goal!

 

There are ways to make sure that your gut is healthy.

 

A way to make sure you gut is healthy is to check your bowel movements. Bowel movements can be an instant indicator of your gut health. The first key is to figure out what your normal bowel movement is and it can be different for everyone.  If you go once a day every day, or twice a week, or even three times a day can be normal depending on the person. Just because you don’t have a bowel movement every day does not mean you are constipated. If you have only ever gone twice a week your entire life than that is just how your bowel moves.  There is no reason to worry about that. But make sure your normal doesn’t change. That can be an indicator of an unhealthy gut. 

 

So if you discover that you have an unhealthy gut, what do you do?

 

There are lots of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your gut health. 

One key change is to make sure you destress. Stress can have lots of impact on your body. Try to relax and eliminate major stressors.

Eat more slowly.  By doing so you help your food digest better, eliminating the possibility of bloating or gas issues to arrive after eating.

Stay hydrated. Drinking water is a good way to flush out your system. 

Another thing you can do is take prebiotic or probiotic. Prebiotics help grow good gut bacteria, while a probiotic is live good bacteria that you can take.

You can change your diet as well. Reduce the amount of processed food, sugar, and high fat foods you intake.  Best foods to eat are plant based foods, lean protein, and high fiber. High fiber foods that are beneficial to your gut health are legumes, peas, oats, bananas, berries, and asparagus. Other foods that are helpful are garlic and onions, fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut.  Another beneficial food is collagen boosting foods such as bone broth.

Something else to try if you have noticed poor gut health is to get educated on food intolerances. If you notice that symptoms only happen after certain trigger foods, try eliminating these foods for a while to see if symptoms go away.  Remember an intolerance is different than an allergy. Knowing your trigger foods will help you be able to avoid them.  

 

Be Persistent & Patient

 

When changing any lifestyle change or diet you will need to make sure you stick with the change for at least a few weeks to see a difference.  With gut health change may not happen overnight so be patient and keep up a healthy lifestyle. Adding in a prebiotic or probiotic is the same way.  Make sure you keep up with it daily to see a difference in your life. If none of these work reach out to your doctor. There are some tests that can help determine if you need more care than just normal lifestyle changes.  Some as drastic as a fecal transplant. Your doctor will be able to give you other things to try or education on food intolerances if this ends up being what is causing your unhealthy gut. Improving your gut health can help your overall health.  Make sure your gut is healthy so that your whole self can be too.  


Sources:
healthline.com
webmd.com


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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators.The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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