There is mounting evidence to suggest the correlation between gut health and overall wellbeing in the last two decades. Moreover, research shows that many of the health concerns we face are directly related to an unhealthy gut.
Thus, it may be surprising to discover that there are findings that suggest that diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, autoimmune conditions and chronic fatigue syndrome may all stem from an unhealthy gut. Thus, it would seem that it is more important than ever to maintain and support your gut health.
The Gut-brain Connection
Most of us are aware of the direct effect of the brain on the stomach and intestines. For example, our digestive juices start flowing just by us thinking of eating. However, this connection goes both ways.
Just as an upset brain can send signals to the intestine, an unhealthy intestine can also transmit signals to the brain. Thus, we now know that the brain and gastrointestinal systems are intrinsically linked.
Reasons to Maintain a Healthy Gut
Our gut is the protective tract through which our undigested waste exits after entering our body. The gut barrier is what protects our digestive system. The primary purpose of the gut is to process what enters or doesn't enter the digestive system.
When the microorganisms living in the digestive tract are out of balance, it affects our overall wellbeing. Making sure we support a healthy gut is vital to maintaining our physical and mental health. Therefore it is essential to identify symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Below are just a few telltale signs:
Feeling Bloated & Gassy
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is the surest sign that your gut needs attention. These hallmark signs indicate that the bacteria in your intestines, colon, gut or stomach are out of balance and dysfunctional.
Sugar Cravings are not Just a “Sweet Tooth.”
If you have sugar cravings, it is also a sign of an imbalance in the bacteria in your gut. If you find yourself craving sugar, it usually indicates that your gut bacteria are secreting more than leptin and ghrelin. These are proteins secreted by our gut bacteria which are similar to the hormones which regulate our hunger.
However, they also affect our moods and food cravings. So if we are craving sugar, it's a sign that we are feeding the harmful bacteria in our gut, which secrete even more proteins to feed the cravings.
There are plenty of studies highlighting the harmful impact sugar has on the body. Not only is our gut thrown out of balance, but ultimately it can negatively affect our brain also. Cutting down on your sugar intake will help support your gut microbiome and overall wellbeing.
Heeding The Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Food intolerance is usually a good indicator that your gut barrier is unhealthy or compromised. This is because protein molecules enter the bloodstream, and the immune response immediately attacks them. This can manifest as food intolerance.
Therefore a process of elimination may be worthwhile to improve gut health. In addition, proteins entering the bloodstream are also linked to autoimmune issues. Inflammation is one of those, which can manifest as eczema, abdominal pain, irritable bowel or headaches.
Gut Health and Happy Hormones
You may have, like many people, assumed that our happy hormones, serotonin and dopamine, come from the brain. However, the fact is that most of our serotonin is made in our gut. Similarly, so is an estimated half of our dopamine.
Therefore when our gut is out of sync, our body loses a lot of those hormones. The impact of this on mental health, making it all the more important to support gut health.
Prebiotics & Microbiomes- A Balancing Act
One way to support your gut health is by eating foods with high levels of prebiotic fibre. In addition, some studies suggest that eating a vegetarian diet can significantly improve gut health. For example, the microbiomes of those who eat meat differed substantially from those who ate vegetables rich in prebiotic fibre.
Therefore finding a way to support your gut health may be a process of elimination. Removing foods that continue the cycle of feeding unhealthy gut bacteria is one step in the right direction.
Supporting Gut Health With Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics complement each other beautifully to keep balance in the gut. According to research, live fermented foods such as kombucha, miso, kefir and sauerkraut may play an essential role in providing a natural source of probiotics.
Stress Less-Improve Gut Health
When we are stressed, it takes a toll on the whole body, not just our gut. Our other organs are affected by an imbalance in the bacteria that keeps the gut healthy. Because our gut microbes influence our mood hormones and stress levels.
Reducing stressful situations is beneficial to maintain healthy levels of good bacteria in the gut. In addition, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, exercise routine and healthy eating can help to alleviate stress. However, if this doesn't help, adding some stress management techniques may work. For example, many people find practising yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises beneficial.
Plenty of Rest
It is essential to try and incorporate a healthy sleep pattern into our daily routine. An unhealthy sleep pattern can be just as detrimental to our gut as not eating healthily. However, similarly, if your gut is out of balance, this also influences your sleep pattern effect.
In turn, this may negatively impact the gut flora, subsequently increasing the risk of inflammation. A healthy sleep pattern will help keep your gut healthy and vice versa.
Hydrate, Hydrate Hydrate
Staying hydrated is beneficial for our bodies in so many ways. Staying hydrated not only keeps our gut healthy for maintaining our good gut bacteria balanced. Your skin will thank you also.
Our lifestyle can seriously affect our gut health and throw the sensitive system out of balance. However, making some simple changes to lifestyle can positively impact supporting our gut to do its job effectively.