Our health is based on our digestive system. Here, the building blocks of every cell in our body come to life by the digestion and absorption of nutrients in food.
The main factors that bring about the change in gut health are changes in stomach acid, gut immunity, and gastrointestinal flora, which is a complex ecosystem of bacteria in your digestive system. These gut bacteria are counted amongst the first line of defense in our body.
Therefore, they are associated with a surprisingly large number of health problems. It is extremely important to know which foods are harmful and also which are the best foods for your gut health.
Intestinal Health & Its Importance
The gut is home to a trillion bacteria. This culture of microscopic organisms, known as the microbiome, is essential to gut health, playing a role in everything from digestion to regulating metabolism. The gut microbiota is very dynamic, so if you start pursuing healthy eating habits, it will respond and adapt very quickly, even within 48 hours.
Researchers have found that the microbes colonizing your gut can have an impact on your digestive system, immune system, endocrine systems, skin, brain, and mental health negatively and positively. Additionally, research suggests that the condition of your microbiome can also affect your mood and your ability to manage the disease.
Signs That Your Gut Is Unhealthy
The digestive system's job is to receive food, digest it, absorb nutrients and excrete remaining waste. But how will you find out if it's healthy and functional?
A healthy gut usually functions properly when you have well-shaped, easy-to-pass stools once or twice a day. These daily bowel movements should have no symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and loose stools. With a healthy digestive system, you don't respond to food or external inputs like stress or environmental factors. You are also less prone to conditions like skin disorders, autoimmune conditions, inflammatory reactions, and other health problems.
Following are some of the signs of an unhealthy gut:
1. Disturbed Stomach
This is the characteristic symptom of intestinal dysfunction. Overall, it is for health reasons; the number and diversity of bacteria living in the intestines, intestines, stomach, and colon. These bacteria are called a microbiome, and symptoms such as bowel irregularity or flatulence occur when the balance of the bacteria is not correct. Specifically, gas is a sign that food is fermenting in your gut because you don't have enough stomach acid or an imbalance of bacteria to break down the food you've eaten.
2. Fluctuating Weight
An unhealthy gut can be associated with various symptoms throughout the body, including weight fluctuations. Research has helped us to discover different kinds of gut microbiomes in thin and obese people. According to a study published in the journal Nutrition Today in June 2016, a Western diet high in fat and refined carbohydrates may support gut bacteria associated with obesity.
3. Skin Problems
Research has also shown a link between unhealthy gut and acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
A review published in July 2018 in Frontiers in Microbiology states that the gut microbiome affects the skin through complex immune mechanisms and that probiotics and prebiotics can help balance the gut, preventing or treating these inflammatory skin problems.
4. Persistent Fatigue
The gut is constantly communicating with our brains, and the microbiome plays a vital role in your mental health and how you respond to stress. Food affects how you feel, which affects your mood. While mood disorders aren't just regulated by gut health, it's definitely a factor! If you're experiencing new mood swings or increased anxiety, you may want to fine-tune your diet and lifestyle and how they can affect you on a deeper level.
5. Craving Sugar
A diet rich in processed foods and added sugars can reduce the number of good bacteria in the gut. This imbalance can cause an increase in sugar cravings, which can further damage the intestines. High levels of refined sugars, particularly high fructose corn syrup, have been associated with increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation can herald many diseases and even cancer.
If you suffer from intolerance to foods such as gluten or dairy, it is almost always the result of a leaky gut. The intestinal barrier is your gatekeeper who decides what goes in and what stays outside.
When you think about it, our instincts are a system that works by itself. It is a closed passage from our mouths to our bottom. Technically, the extent of its interaction with other organs in our body is somewhat limited.
Anything that goes into the mouth and is not digested goes to the other side. This is actually one of the most important functions of the intestine: to prevent foreign substances from entering the body.
As soon as the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, large protein molecules easily escape into the bloodstream causing the leaky gut syndrome. Since these proteins do not belong outside the gut, the body elicits an immune response and attacks them. This immune response manifests itself as food intolerance.
7. Autoimmune Conditions
You will find the highest density of immune cells in your body in the small intestine. Bacterial overgrowth or chronic inflammation of the small intestine can bring the immune system into a stable state of hyperactivity and immune responses.
Research shows that people with IBS have overactive immune responses in the gut. A large body of research creates a strong link between autoimmune conditions and imbalances in the gut microflora. We see more and more evidence that the gut affects autoimmune diseases, be it psoriasis, celiac disease, or Hashimoto's disease.
The unhealthy gut is believed to produce systemic inflammation throughout the body, and inflammation leads to autoimmune problems. By controlling some gut problems, we can affect things other than the gut and help reduce any autoimmune conditions.
Ways to Improve Gut Health
If they have good gut health, they are less likely to damage inflammation and lose immunity. Once you figure out what to look for, you can create a plan to get your gut back into the old ways. Here is a list of what you can do to improve your gut health. You will be surprised to find out that they are not just about diet.
However, let’s start with foods for the gut.
1. Add Variety to Your Plate
A diet consisting of different types of food can lead to different microflora.
As a matter of fact, the Western diet is high in fat and sugar and not heavily enriched with plants, rich vegetables, and a variety of fruits. So try switching from fat and sugar to a more nutritious diet.
Don't limit yourself to just one food group in particular. Try to expand and try different foods, be it different vegetables, different fibers, prebiotics, and fermented foods. Don't limit yourself to just one food group, but choose a variety of foods.
2. Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Meals
Fruits and vegetables are the best source of nutrients for a healthy microflora. We know that the most important factor in improving your gut microbiome is the intake of different types of fruit and vegetables. There is good clinical evidence for this. And the foundation of a good microbiome is having a variety of these fruits and vegetables because they can actually increase your fiber.
One study found that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of some pathogenic bacteria. Apples, artichokes, blueberries, almonds, and pistachios have been shown to increase bifidobacteria in humans. Bifidobacteria are considered beneficial bacteria because they can help prevent gut inflammation and improve gut health.
3. Fiber for flora
Fiber intake in Americans is 40 to 50 percent of what it should be. Fiber makes up the foundation of your gut health. It is the base upon which your health and body are built upon.
The more fiber you can have, especially natural fibers, the better it will be is going to be for your gut. Beans and legumes are now an excellent example. These natural sources are high in fiber and are an excellent source of other nutrients as well.
Some people can't tolerate it now, which is fine. But one should try to diversify his or her meals to include a lot more fruits and vegetables and minimize as much as possible anything else such as rice or bread on top.
4. Cut Down Sugar
Consuming a large amount of sugars or artificial sweeteners can cause intestinal dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of gut microbes.
Authors of a 2015 animal study suggested that a standard Western diet high in sugar and fat negatively affects the gut microbiome. This, in turn, can affect the brain and behavior. Another animal study states that the artificial sweetener aspartame increases the number of certain bacterial strains associated with metabolic diseases.
The metabolic disease includes a group of conditions that increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Research has also shown that human use of artificial sweeteners can adversely affect blood glucose levels due to their effects on gut flora. This means that artificial sweeteners can raise blood sugar levels when they're not actually sugar.
5. Whole Grains
Diet based on whole grains can do wonders for your gut. They contain a lot of fiber and indigestible carbohydrates. These carbohydrates do not break down in the small intestine, so they go down to the large intestine or colon or digestive microbiome, which enjoys these carbohydrates and promotes the growth of good bacteria.
Whole grains contain a lot of fiber and indigestible carbohydrates, such as beta-glucan. These carbohydrates are not absorbed in the small intestine and instead directly enter the large intestine, where they are digested by the microbiota to produce important vitamins like vitamin K and support the growth of some beneficial bacteria. Whole grains can support the growth of bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and Bacteroidetes in humans.
The only people who need to avoid certain carbohydrates are those who are sensitive to gluten or celiac disease.
6. Prebiotics and Probiotics
A healthy gut includes various prebiotic and probiotic organisms.
So, what are prebiotics and probiotics? Think of prebiotics as a food that nourishes probiotics. Both are essential for good gut health. Pre and probiotics are found in many foods and drinks and can be purchased as supplements.
Everyone works differently. Prebiotics are mainly found in high-fiber foods, and probiotics are abundant in fermented foods and beverages. Probiotics do not significantly change the composition of the microbiota in healthy people. However, sick people can improve the function of the microbiota and help restore its health.
Probiotic supplements (such as probiotic + mbg) and fermented foods can help restore the balance of the gut microbiome by directly supporting the gut with good bacteria. Especially when you take it every day.
Probiotics are like good cops. We hand out good cops, and the good ones can protect the bad guys.
Research shows that due to the changes that occur during fermentation, some foods are healthier for your gut than unfermented foods. Foods like kefir, kimchi, yogurt, miso, kale, and kombucha could be the best additions to your diet.
Fermented foods also contain beneficial bacteria. Kefir and yogurt can improve gut health more than drinking unfermented dairy products. The same goes for kimchi and kale, as opposed to regular kale. Although all three are healthy foods, fermentation helps bring various gut bacteria into the mix and results in a healthier gut biome.
This is another reason to eat and drink a wide variety of foods and drinks. It is also important to drink plenty of water to keep your gut biome healthy.
Research has proven that consuming a probiotic supplement for just two weeks can support and improve your digestive health. Probiotics can also provide nutritional support for the functional needs of the gastrointestinal tract, such as occasional flatulence and bloating, promoting regularity. Of course, it's always better to consult your doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you have any health problems and are taking medications and other supplements.
Manage Your Stress
Stress management is important for many aspects of health, including gut health.
Animal studies suggest that psychological stressors can disturb microorganisms in the gut, even if the stress is short-lived.
In humans, many stressors can adversely affect gut health, including psychological stress, environmental stress such as extreme heat, cold or noise, sleep deprivation, circadian rhythm disturbances.
You can relieve your stress by meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Regular exercise, good sleep, and a healthy diet can also reduce stress levels.
Regular exercise is also important for your gut health. According to research on the effects of exercise on the gut microbiome, aerobic exercise can increase the number of bacteria in the digestive tract and contribute to overall bacterial diversity.
Although any movement can help you, it seems that the fitter you are physically, the more diverse your microbiome is. If you are sedentary, start exercising a few days a week and then start exercising as part of your normal daily routine.
Getting enough sleep can improve your mood, cognition, and gut health.
A 2014 animal study showed that irregular sleep habits and sleep disturbances could have negative results for gut flora, which can increase the risk of inflammatory conditions.
Establish healthy sleep habits by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Adults should sleep at least 7 hours a night.
Smoking affects gut health and the heart and lungs. It also significantly increases the risk of cancer.
A review of research published over a 16-year period over a 16-year period found that smoking altered gut flora by increasing potentially harmful microorganisms and reducing levels of beneficial microorganisms.
These effects can increase the risk of intestinal and systemic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Main Take Away
Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to help you to heal your gut and restore gut flora. Although diet is often the first line of defense, taking high-quality probiotics with scientifically-based strains, reducing stress levels, and regular exercise can also play an important role in promoting your health and well-being.