- What Is Gut Health
- Why Gut Health Should be a Priority
- What is Leaky Gut Syndrome
- 8 Signs of Unhealthy Gut
- 6 Ways to Take Care of You Gut
What Is Gut Health?
The gut is the gastrointestinal tract that starts from the mouth to the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, and anus. It is responsible for breaking down the food we eat and absorbing nutrients to provide us with energy for us to maintain a healthy body function. Apart from that, it also helps achieve healthy skin, balances hormones, and excretes toxins. This earns it a powerhouse part of the body. Read on to find out why it should be a priority.
Why Gut Health Should be a Priority
Believe it or not, gut health should be your number one priority. Why? Because almost everything in your body is connected to your gut health, and it plays a vital role in your overall well-being — from balanced digestive function, strong immune system, and improved mental health. You might be wondering how they are linked together when they have contrasting body functions.
Around 70-80 percent of your immune cells are present in the gut, thus, why the gut and immune system are closely linked together. An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut can cause dysbiosis which can lead to different stomach and autoimmune issues such as IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome), acid reflux, heartburn, Crohn's, lupus, and many more.
But how can the gut be connected to your mental health? According to Harvard Health, unhealthy gut may contribute to anxiety, stress, and depression. This is because the gut sends signals to the brain when something is wrong and vice versa. This explains why you may sometimes feel nauseous and experience stomach pain when you feel highly anxious and stressed. A perfect example of this is when you feel nervous about a presentation, and you start feeling a distressing pain in your stomach. Another thing to note is that the gut microbiome can regulate happy hormones that help your body produce serotonin and improve your mood while decreasing anxiety.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
When you say someone has a “leaky gut”, it means that that person has intestinal permeability. Meaning there is a leakage of bacteria and toxins in the bloodstream. This can cause inflammation and different autoimmune conditions. Some of the symptoms of this are fatigue, bloating, food sensitivity, or skin issues. This phenomenon, however, is not a recognized medical diagnosis and medical practitioners consider this as a symptom rather than a condition.
8 Signs of Unhealthy Gut
1. Frequent Stomach Discomfort
Frequent gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and other stomach issues can be a sign that your gut is having a tough time processing food. It may also be a symptom of leaky gut syndrome or IBS.
2. Food Intolerance
Food intolerance is also one of the signs of an unhealthy gut. People with food sensitivities have poor quality of good and bad bacteria and struggle to process or break down food — making them prone to indigestion, bloating gas, and abdominal pain.
3. Excessive Sugar Cravings
Studies have suggested that a diet consisting of high sugar and processed food can reduce the number of good bacteria and increase bad bacteria in your gut which can result in an imbalance. Not only does high consumption of sugar disrupt the intestinal barrier, but it can also cause diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
4. Weight Gain and Weight Loss
Some studies suggest that the microbiome is linked to obesity and is related to the production of hunger hormones which tell you when you feel hungry or full. An imbalance of good and bad bacteria can make your gut fail to absorb and digest food and nutrients.
5. Frequent Mood Changes
You already know that the gut and the brain have a close connection between them. Different gut problems can trigger anxiety and abrupt mood swings.
6. Autoimmune Disorders
The gut microbiome has a huge impact in your autoimmune system and poor gut health can trigger autoimmune conditions such as lupus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and ulcerative colitis.
7. Poor Sleep Quality
Experts suggest that good bacteria in your gut is linked to having good sleep while bad bacteria is linked with poor sleep. However, limited studies have been conducted to completely confirm this theory. One thing to note though is that melatonin, the sleep hormone, is produced in the gut and brain.
8. Skin Irritation
Leaky gut syndrome may cause rashes, breakouts, and other common skin conditions such as eczema, and psoriasis. A damaged and inflamed gut can quickly reflect on the skin's health through acne and skin inflammations. Glowing skin cannot only be achieved by taking care of it on the outside, the inside cleansing of the body and gut is also essential to prevent acne and protect the skin.
6 Ways to Take Care of You Gut
1. Add probiotics to your diet
Probiotics are plant fibers that help cultivate a healthy gut bacteria that can boost immune function and digestive health. Some probiotics rich foods are:
Why not try a probiotics and prebiotics supplement? These 60 vegetarian capsules from Havasu Nutrition are formulated with 20 billion CFU per serving for optimal gut health. Check it out here.
2. Eat slowly and eat high fiber food
Taking time to chew your food helps with better digestion and weight loss. It also makes you reduce your caloric intake because the gut hormones that are responsible for feeling full increase, making you eat less. Smaller bites can also help you digest food better. Moreover, studies have shown that adding fiber to your diet can help keep the gut microbiome healthy. Fiber can help in digestion and relieve constipation. It also assists in waste and toxins excretion. However, too much fiber can cause gas, bloating, and intestinal blockage so make sure to keep it at a balanced level. Some high fiber foods are:
- Flax Seeds
3. Get enough sleep
Getting a good night's rest can help balance your stress hormones and prevent you from developing the leaky gut syndrome. A study in 2019 suggests that a diverse microbiome can help promote healthier sleep.
4. Avoid processed food and sugar
Sugar can cause a gut bacterial imbalance, so make sure to avoid too much-processed food and control your sugar intake. Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods to reduce gut inflammation. Add whole grains and fiber to your diet.
5. Give time to destress
Destressing and stress management can lower the chances of developing GI issues and gut inflammation. Take a quick trip to the beach or find a relaxing hobby to keep you away from too much stress and help you heal yourself.
6. Quit smoking
According to John Hopkins Medicine, smoking can have a harmful effect on your gut health. Smoking can cause ulcers that cause painful sores in the intestine’s lining. It also may cause heartburn and weaken the sphincter and may be at risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Quitting smoking is the best course for maintaining a healthy gut health.
The gut-brain connection - Harvard Health. (2012, March 27). Harvard Health; Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection
Smith, R. P., Easson, C., Lyle, S. M., Kapoor, R., Donnelly, C. P., Davidson, E. J., Parikh, E., Lopez, J. V., & Tartar, J. L. (2019). Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. PloS One, 14(10), e0222394. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222394
Smoking and the Digestive System. (2020, July 20). Hopkinsmedicine.org. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/smoking-and-the-digestive-system#:~:text=Smoking%20can%20harm%20your%20digestive,for%20Crohn’s%20disease%20and%20gallstones