How To Improve Your Gut Health: The Ultimate Guide
Unless you've been hiding under a rock over the last few years (which, rightfully so), you've likely heard a thing or two about gut health.
Your gut — aka, the gastrointestinal tract — processes food from the moment it enters your mouth until your body absorbs the needed nutrients, and the unwanted matter is kicked to the curb via a bowel movement.
There are trillions of itty-bitty symbiotic microorganisms that reside in your human body — primarily the gut — collectively referred to as "the microbiome." While bacteria can certainly be a bad thing, these little gut bugs are friendly and work hard to keep your body functioning efficiently and optimally.
In fact, according to a recent study, a diverse gut microbiome with an abundance of "good" bacteria has been shown to support a healthier life — no wonder why gut health has become such a hot commodity in recent years!
Interested in learning more? We can help. Read on to discover everything you need to know about gut health, including the top tips and tricks to improve yours. Are you ready?
Let's dive in.
What Is the Gut, Anyway?
Simply put, the gut is your GI tract — starting at your mouth, it includes your stomach as well as your intestines and is where your food is digested and absorbed by your body.
To help do its job, your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, including more than 1000 species of fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Known as the gut flora or microbiota, these tiny bugs live together like an ecosystem.
What Does the Gut Microbiota Do?
They certainly aren't living in your gut for free, that's for sure!
In short, your gut flora are key players in your overall health. Here's just a quick snapshot of what they do:
- Aid digestion
- Produce essential nutrients, such as energy-boosting vitamin B and vitamin K
- Help with the absorption of nutrients, including magnesium and calcium
- Metabolize cholesterol and bile acids
- Create brain chemicals like serotonin which happens to influence wellbeing
- Provide immunity support
Despite being microscopic, there's no denying that these gut bacteria play a big role in keeping your body healthy.
What Happens When Your Gut Is Unhealthy?
A diverse gut microbiome with lots of different microorganisms is a healthy gut, but because these itty-bitty critters live together in one delicate ecosystem, it's really easy to upset this harmonious balance. Your gut bacteria can become unbalanced due to a number of reasons, including:
- Certain medications (e.g., frequent antibiotic use)
- Processed foods
- A diet high in sugar
- Poor sleep
- Alcohol intake
When the bacteria in your delicate gut microbiota are less diverse, "unfriendly" bugs can wreak havoc and ultimately feed on the lining of the gut wall.
This can quickly lead to inflammation in the gut and contribute to a whole host of uncomfortable health issues, ranging from allergies and acne to autoimmune conditions and even lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease — just to name a few.
What Are the Telltale Signs of Poor Gut Health?
By now, you know that your gut has an incredible amount of control over your overall health and wellness. This is because it has a number of important jobs, including providing protection against dangerous bacteria, regulating metabolism, aiding in digestion, managing hormone levels, creating vitamins, and disposing of toxins.
That said, to prevent your gut from becoming unbalanced and ultimately wreaking havoc on your health, watch for these telltale signs listen below that are often early indicators of poor gut health:
- Digestive Discomfort — Bloating, gas, stomach cramps, constipation, acid reflux, or heartburn can indicate poor gut health.
- Unexpected Weight Changes — Packing on the pounds or shedding weight without doing a thing? Your gut health could be lacking.
- Relentless Fatigue — Lack of diversity in gut bacteria has been directly linked with chronic fatigue, lack of energy, and sleep issues.
- Skin Flare-Ups — Conditions like acne and eczema have been linked to inflammation in the gut, so if you experience a flare-up, a bacterial imbalance could be to blame.
- Mood Changes — Often referred to as your "second brain," the gut has been confirmed time and again as having a major influence on emotional health.
- Food Intolerances — When the gut microbiome is out of balance, digestion is often hindered, which can make it very difficult for the body to effectively break down certain foods.
In addition to the signs listed above, you may also experience food cravings, namely a hankering for the sweet stuff.
If this happens, just keep in mind the importance of moderation — a little bit of sugar is A-OK, but too much can lead to inflammation which may result in an imbalance.
What Are Some Tips and Tricks To Improve Gut Health?
Now that you understand what can throw a monkey wrench in your gut health, let's take a look at a few tips and tricks to improve the overall health of your gut:
Tip #1: Change Your Diet
As mentioned a little earlier, the food you fuel your body with has a major impact on the health of your gut as well as the balance of good and bad bacteria.
That said, one surefire way to improve your gut health is to simply reduce the number of foods you eat that are processed, high in sugar or artificial sweeteners, and high in fat. Incorporate more fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha to amp up the good bacteria in your gut.
Reach for high-fiber foods, like whole grains, that contain gut-lovin' prebiotics, and consider adding a quality daily probiotic supplement to your line-up — like Gut Feelings Probiotics.
Your immune system's first line of defense, our innovative prebiotic and probiotic formula supports your gut bacteria's entire life-cycle. Three billion CFUs of powerful probiotic strains work in harmony to support healthy gut function and digestion.*
Tip #2: Reduce Your Stress
According to research, a wide variety of stressors can negatively affect the health of your gut, including:
- Sleep deprivation
- Disruption of the circadian rhythm
- Environment stress, such as extreme cold, heat, or noise
- Psychological stress
Although it's often much easier said than done, try your best to reduce your stress as it can help to balance your gut.
Small changes like taking a relaxing stroll around the park, getting a quick massage during your lunch break, or even doing something as simple as breathing exercises or yoga can reduce stress hormones.
Tip #3: Drink More H2O
Arguably the easiest way to promote good gut health is to simply drink more H2O. Yup, it's true — drinking enough of the wet stuff throughout the day can help keep things moving in your digestive tract as well as promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
A Final Word
And there you have it — the ultimate guide on how to improve your gut health!
Maintaining a healthy and happy gut leads to better overall health and immune function. By making appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes, you can improve the diversity and number of friendly bugs in your gut to support a long and healthy life.
Some of the positive changes that you could make include taking a good quality probiotic, drinking more H2O, and eating clean whole foods, such as fresh fruits and veggies.
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Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health | The BMJ
Gut microbiome pattern reflects healthy aging and predicts survival in humans | PubMed
Symbiotic Human Gut Bacteria with Variable Metabolic Priorities for Host Mucosal Glycans | mBio
Autoimmune disorders | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Antibiotics as Major Disruptors of Gut Microbiota | Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Stress affects circadian rhythm, increases metabolic disease risk | News Medical
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