Your gut plays a crucial role in your overall health and wellness. Maintaining a healthy gut can benefit your entire body, from the skin to the mind and heart. Your digestive system contains trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, known as microbiota. Most gut issues are caused by the imbalance of the microbiota. An unhealthy gut can signal problems in different parts of the body. Spotting where and when a health issue is related to your gut can help you develop a plan to improve your gut health.
What Are The Signs of an Unhealthy Gut?
This is the most obvious sign of gut dysfunction. Symptoms can include excessive gas production and bloating in the stomach, diarrhea, or constipation. In addition to this, an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria living inside your gut (gut dysbiosis) can lead to problems like irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore, maintaining the right number of good strains of bacteria in your gut is very important for preventing poor gut health.
Your stomach is easily upset when there are more gas-producing bacteria present in the gut. They can cause more fermentation than usual in your gastrointestinal tract which can lead to bloating.
Food Allergies or Sensitivities
Food intolerances such as gluten or lactose could be a sign of a leaky gut. Healthy intestinal linings work as a shield to prevent toxins and other substances from entering the body. It is thought that when you have a leaky gut, your damaged intestinal linings may create gaps that may let undigested food particles pass into the bloodstream. Your body may then detect those foreign objects and activate the immune system. As a result, this process may lead to food intolerance.
If you are experiencing mood swings more often lately, it could be a sign of an unhealthy gut. Your gut microbiota can indirectly affect mental health through the gut-brain axis. They produce certain neurochemicals including serotonin and dopamine, the happiness hormones, that regulate your mood and sleep. A leaky gut or chronic gut issue can negatively affect your central nervous system. It may bring your mood down and cause feelings of stress or anxiousness.
Research has found that there may be a possible link between an unhealthy gut and skin problems. Basically, the gut microbiome (bacteria living in your gut) can impact skin health due to the immune mechanism. As mentioned, a leaky gut may allow digested molecules to pass into the bloodstream, which may cause an inflammatory response. This process may build up toxicity in the body which can cause skin irritation such as redness, acne, sensitivity, and even collagen breakdown. Preserving the balance of good bacteria with probiotic or prebiotic supplements may help alleviate those skin issues.
Your gut microbiome plays a vital role in maintaining a well-balanced immune system. If you frequently feel tired or fall sick easily, you may have a disturbed gut. According to research, those who experience chronic fatigue might have an uneven balance of bacteria in their guts. A less diverse gut microbiome may also lead to a lack of sleep, causing you to feel poorly rested and tired during the day.
Unintentional Weight Changes
Bacteria in the gut help to ingest and break down the food that you eat. That process determines the number of nutrients absorbed into the body. An unhealthy gut may decrease the absorption of nutrients from your diets, which can lead to unwanted weight loss. In addition to this, certain types of gut microbes may also cause weight changes. An imbalance in the microbiome can send the wrong signals to your brain, which may lead to insulin resistance or overeating. High levels of insulin can increase fat storage, which can cause weight gain. If you’ve noticed unexplained fluctuations in your weight, you may have problems with your digestive health.
What Causes Gut Issues?
Belly issues can be caused by many factors. However, more often than not, a poor or unhealthy diet is still the first cause to blame. This is because your gut microbiota feeds on the nutrients from the food that you eat. Other factors to consider are things like:
- Poor sleep
- Too frequent use of antibiotics
Addressing those problems by working towards a healthier lifestyle may impact your gut health in a big way. Here are some of our suggestions to help boost your gut health.
Here are 10 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health!
Supply your diet with gut-healthy food
A healthy diet has a big impact on your gut health. It keeps your gut microbiome balance with the good types and the right amount of gut bacteria. Below are some tips on good practices for your diet.
1. Get more whole grains, nuts, veggies, beans, and fresh fruits
We’ve all heard about the benefits of eating plant-based foods. Those certain foods are rich in fiber which feeds the good bacteria in your gut and helps things move easily. Plan your meals with more vegetables and whole grains like quinoa, barley, oats, corn, and brown rice. Cut back on processed foods. This is the first step towards a healthier gut.
2. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods help to provide your gut with probiotics – which are beneficial bacteria for the gut. Common fermented foods that may help to improve your gut health are kimchi, kombucha, miso, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, tempeh, and probiotic yogurt.
3. Add more prebiotic-rich foods
Prebiotics are complex non-digestible carbohydrates that feed probiotics. They help with the growth of good gut bacteria. Including more prebiotic foods in your diet may boost your gut balance. This includes foods like bananas, garlic, onions, asparagus, apples, cocoa, and whole grains.
4. Spice it up
Mix it up in the kitchen by including different types of spices in your meals. There are many delicious spices you can add to your food, for example, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Spices can actually benefit the health of your gut microbiome. Plus, food tastes better with more flavor, doesn’t it?
5. Cut down on sugar and artificial sweeteners
Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut and can lead to imbalances in the microbiome. While artificial sweeteners may sound like a good alternative, they may actually impact your gut flora. They can encourage the growth of certain types of bacteria which may lead to a rise in blood sugar levels. Therefore, limiting your sugar intake is important for improving your gut health. Avoiding foods with artificial sweeteners like soft drinks or processed foods will also be a big help for your tummy.
6. Take probiotics supplements
This is a convenient and straightforward way to introduce more good bacteria into your gut. According to research, probiotics may play a role in helping to improve the gut microbiome. Additionally, they may also help with preventing gut discomfort and other intestinal issues.
7. Exercise more regularly
Exercising on a regular basis benefits your health in many ways. For instance, it may help your gut health by increasing the number and diversity of gut bacteria. You don’t need to force yourself into an intensive workout if you don’t want to. Any form of exercise will do! It’s important to just do what you enjoy, whether that’s walking, running, cycling, or swimming. Exercising at home? Here are some workouts you can do with no equipment at all!
8. Avoid alcohol and smoking
Many people are aware of the harmful effects smoking and alcohol can have on our health. However, what may be less commonly known is their effect on gut health. One study suggests that smoking may alter the intestinal microbiome and decrease its diversity. It claims that this could lead to the development of intestinal disorders. Excessive alcohol consumption may induce bacterial overgrowth in the intestine, causing gut abnormalities and abdominal issues. Moreover, it may also interfere with the absorption of nutrients or cause gut problems. Cutting down on alcohol consumption and smoking may have positive effects on your digestive health.
9. Manage stress and get enough sleep
Stress and sleep affect each other and both directly communicate with your gut. Think of your body as a whole, and different parts of it impact one another. It’s vital to get enough quality rest and sleep. Sleeping better could improve your cognition, mood, and gut health. Besides, it can also play a role in helping to manage your stress levels. You could also try to reduce stress with activities like meditation, deep breathing, and exercise. Less stress can help to ease the pressure on your gut and may help keep your gut bacteria balanced.
10. Look out for the intake of antibiotics
Antibiotics should not be taken unnecessarily, but only when you really need them. They are essential for the treatment of some bacterial infections. However, they can also decrease the diversity of your gut microbiome. Long-term use of antibiotics may cause antibiotic resistance, which can impact your immune system. You can discuss alternative options for antibiotics with your doctor.
It might be beneficial to take probiotic supplements to restore the gut flora after the use of antibiotics. They may help to replenish your gut with good bacteria and maintain its health. There are many types of probiotic supplements on the market. You can check out this list here for our best picks of probiotics. If you’ve been reading about digestive health, you might have come across the new term “postbiotics”. Not sure about the difference between pre-, pro-, and postbiotics? You can find out more here.
Address the trigger that upsets your gut
As mentioned, many different factors can lead to an unhealthy gut. You should listen to your body. Identifying the root cause of your gut issues can help you address them accordingly. That way you can save your time and effort and take steps towards having less discomfort.