One of the saner health fads in recent times has been that of ‘gut health.’ It was pretty much overlooked by mainstream medicine until now. Let us learn about gut health, what it is and how to improve it.
Today we live in a highly toxic world where everything from the air, water to food contains unwanted chemicals. On top of it, our lifestyle choices have led to a deterioration of our health and a range of autoimmune diseases.
What we can control more than anything else is what we put into our bodies and that starts with food! But gut health does not stop with food, it is also about our lifestyle in general. Let us find out more!
Gut Health: What It Is And How To Improve It
What does ‘gut health’ mean?
Gut health refers to the health of the digestive tract, especially the intestine and stomach, in the human body. This health is dependent on the bacteria present in the gut that plays a role in breaking down food that we eat.
What does gut health affect?
- A healthy gut is very important in order to maintain your overall wellness.
- It affects various aspects of health. It can affect the mood, cause brain fog, inflammation, food sensitivities, leaky gut syndrome and various other problems.
- According to skin experts, gut health affects inflammation throughout the body.
What causes poor gut health?
Poor gut health is caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. This imbalance can be caused by various factors.
- Hormonal imbalance can lead to the growth of bad bacteria.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs can inhibit the growth of good bacteria.
- Taking antibiotics kills all bacteria in the gut including healthy bacteria.
- Diet plays an important part in keeping the gut healthy. Bad bacteria thrive on sugar.
- Stress, anxiety and depression can also contribute to poor gut health.
What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?
- Poor digestion, diarrhea, constipation, cramps
Imbalance of good and bad bacteria means it is difficult to digest food properly.
- Skin problems
An unhealthy gut can cause persistent skin problems like acne, eczema, rosacea, itchy and flaky skin and dandruff.
- Low energy levels
If you suffer from an unhealthy gut, then you are bound to feel constantly tired and sluggish. Poor gut health prevents the gut from absorbing all the nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy and energized.
- Depression and anxiety
The lining of the intestines is filled with nerves that communicate with the brain. When there is a bacterial imbalance in the gut, it can cause mood swings and make you feel anxious and depressed.
Research says that gut bacteria can change the way one processes emotional information.
- Acid reflux
A buildup of unhealthy bacteria can cause acid reflux and bloating. Taking acid-reducing medication does not help as it lets the bad bacteria grow.
- Food allergies/sensitivities
An unhealthy gut can make the digestive tract sensitive to certain foods and cause allergy.
- Stubborn weight
An unhealthy gut might prevent you from losing excessive weight.
How to improve gut health?
You cannot improve gut health overnight. It requires lifestyle changes and takes time. You have to maintain consistently healthy choices to keep your gut in good health.
- Cut sugar from your diet
Like we said before, bad bacteria thrive on sugar. Eliminating sugar is essential to achieve a healthy gut. Don’t even eat natural sweeteners like honey or stevia, sugar in any form feeds unhealthy bacteria. That also means steering clear of fruits, except berries of all kinds.
- Avoid processed food and inflammatory foods
Processed foods contain sugar and lots of ingredients that feed bad bacteria in the gut and make health worse.
Certain foods like dairy, soy, corn, gluten, meat, sugar, etc. are inflammatory foods that worsen gut health. All foods high in sugar, starch, saturated fats and trans fats cause an inflammatory response. Inflammation can mess with both digestion and metabolism.
You cannot just reduce their intake. You must eliminate them from your diet altogether.
- Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels i.e. the stress hormone. Cortisol causes inflammation which leads to many different problems in the body.
- Stay hydrated
Water is important for the entire body to function properly which also includes a healthy gut.
- Eat probiotics
Taking probiotic supplements and eating fermented foods can help repopulate good bacteria in the gut leading to improved gut health.
- Repair the gut
Prolonged poor gut health can damage the gut lining which leads to all sorts of problems like leaky gut, food insensitivity, non-absorption of essential nutrients, etc.
In order to repair the gut, you must take a supplement like L-Glutamine. It is an amino acid that helps rebuild the gut lining.
You can also incorporate nutrients such as zinc, vitamins A, C, E, aloe vera, etc. All of these help in repairing the gut.
- Eat fiber-rich foods
Eat whole foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, etc.
Foods such as onions, garlic, oats, leeks, etc. are rich in fiber and fall into the prebiotic category. Prebiotics (it’s different then probiotic, so no typo errors) are foods that break down into chemicals that good bacteria can feed on.
Eating prebiotic foods is just as important as eating probiotic foods. Both help healthy bacteria flourish.
- Exercise regularly
Exercise coupled with healthy eating can keep a whole lot of diseases and problems at bay.
Exercise helps decrease stress. It helps generate anti-anxiety and antidepressant chemicals that boost the mood and lower cortisol levels.
Meditating is the best way to handle and decrease stress. It helps calm your mind’s chatter and clears the head. Even a few minutes a day can make a huge difference.
- Keeping a food diary to keep track of what you eat in a day can help in making your gut healthy.
- A plant-based diet is undoubtedly very healthy for the gut and overall health.
We have explored what gut health is and why it matters and what you can do to keep it working optimally. The takeaway here is that if you can keep your gut ecosystem healthy, then you can keep nearly every disease at bay.
We do recommend contacting your doctor if you think you might be experiencing gut health problems. Every individual is affected in a different manner and it is best to get professional medical advice so you can heal yourself in the best and safest way possible.
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