When it comes to your health, you might focus on diet, exercise, and managing stress, but there is one key element that you might be missing out on that can be crucial to making changes: your gut. Gut health plays a significant role in your overall wellness. It’s home to hundreds of types of bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. Collectively, this is known as the gut biome. The gut biome helps regulate digestion, absorb nutrients, and maintain a healthy immune system. When the balance of these microorganisms is disrupted, it can lead to a host of health issues.
How Do You Know Your Gut Health Isn’t Up to Fighting Form?
If you’re experiencing digestive discomforts, such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn, it may be a sign of an imbalanced gut. Unfortunately, many modern diets can actually hurt your ability to digest and process food since they’re so high in refined sugars. Processed foods, in general, may decrease the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut and increase inflammation throughout the body. Unintended weight changes, sleep disturbances, and persistent fatigue can also be indicators of an unhealthy gut. Skin conditions, such as psoriasis, and autoimmune diseases, may also be related to gut health.
How Your Gut Health Can Impact Your Body?
There are so many different ways that your gut health can affect the rest of your body. Understanding what gets linked to your gut health can help you take a more proactive approach towards a happier, healthier stomach:
A healthy gut is critical to properly digesting and extracting all those good nutrients from it. The gut microbiome helps to break down food, produce digestive enzymes, and synthesize vitamins. When the gut microbiome is imbalanced, digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea can occur. A healthy gut microbiome can also help to prevent conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The gut is home to a large part of the body’s immune system. A healthy gut microbiome helps to fend off harmful pathogens and supports the immune system. The gut microbiome also helps to train the immune system to recognize and respond to invading pathogens. An imbalance in the gut can be a nightmare for the immune system, making it more likely you’ll get sick. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome through diet and lifestyle changes can help to boost immunity.
A poor diet and poor gut health can contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. By maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, it may be possible to improve mental health and reduce symptoms of mental health conditions.
Diet plays a huge role in your metabolic health, and your diet always starts with your gut’s microbiome. An imbalance in this part of your body can result in metabolic disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome through diet and lifestyle changes can help to improve metabolic health and reduce the risk of these conditions.
An imbalanced gut microbiome can contribute to chronic inflammation, which is a root cause of many diseases. Inflammation can cause damage to cells and tissues and is associated with conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. By maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, it may be possible to reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
How to Improve Gut Health?
There are several key ways that you can improve your gut health. Keep in mind that you’ll want to try something and continue that one individual habit for a few days. Take note of how you feel with regular check-ins that have you rank your symptoms in terms of a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 in severity so that you can track how the change has impacted your health. If you don’t notice much of a change, you can then try something else.
Though not comprehensive, here are just a few of the ways you can get started on a healthier gut journey:
Take Gut-Happy Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Digestive Enzymes
Prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes can all help improve the microbiome in your gut and give it the power to digest better and process the foods that you eat. Starting with probiotic supplements or with an after-meal digestive enzyme can help kickstart your gut health journey. Enzymes can help your body break down the food that you eat in your stomach and then aids in the digestion process so that your body can absorb more nutrients from the food that you eat.
Gut-Happy Diet Boosters
There are many foods known to help improve gut health, like fiber and fermented foods. Fiber is essential for promoting healthy digestion and maintaining a diverse gut microbiome, and you can increase your fiber intake by eating more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes in your diet. As for fermented foods, look to yogurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut for a natural source of probiotics.
Work Out What You Can’t Eat
Gut health won’t always be about what you can add to your diet. In some cases, you may need to take some things out. You can start by selectively removing types of food known to cause bloating and indigestion, like dairy. Many have a slight intolerance to dairy that they don’t realize. A diet high in sugar can also disrupt that delicate balance of bacteria in your gut and lead to inflammation.
Water, Water, Water
Water is essential. Drink at least the recommended 8 glasses per day to keep everything working like a well-oiled machine. Not only will this water help your digestion, but it can help your skin look more supple, can help you feel more awake and alert, and in general, can also help you destress.
Get a Good Night’s Rest, As Often as Possible
Sleep is crucial for your overall health and well-being. Research suggests that poor sleep can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to digestive discomfort and fatigue. Similarly, an upset stomach and bloating can cause disrupted sleep, resulting in a negative cycle. Try to avoid eating before bed, and be consistent with your sleeping times for a better night’s rest.
Go Stress-Free For a Happy Gut
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your gut health, leading to digestive discomfort and inflammation. Practice stress-management techniques like meditation, exercise, or deep breathing to keep stress levels under control. Of course, you may find that simply sleeping better, eating better, and drinking enough water in a day may be all you need to enjoy a happier, healthier body.