The gut, also known as the digestive system, is an essential body system responsible for breaking down food into nutrients that can be absorbed and used by the body. Common gut problems are functional disorders that affect the digestive system. Gut problems such as dysbiosis, constipation, indigestion, and inflammation can lead to more serious issues down the line if left unchecked.
THE GUT MICROBIOME
The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms. These microorganisms are collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. The microorganisms present in your digestive system include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Many microbes in the gastrointestinal tract are beneficial for our health. Some species of bacteria are even essential in the digestive process. These microorganisms also help us by enabling our bodies to maintain homeostasis and general well-being.
However, there are also harmful species of microorganisms present in the gut. These species may pose dangerous threats to our bodies, especially when they multiply. The human gut is considered to be healthy when there is a balance of microorganisms in the gut. This means that the number of good bacteria should overwhelm the number of pathogenic microbes. When you have the right balance of good and bad bacteria, you have good gut health
SIGNS THAT INDICATE YOUR GUT NEEDS SUPPORT
#1 Stomach Aches
The most common sign that’s indicative of gut issues is constant stomach aches. Conspitation, inflammation, poor gut motility, and a disruption in the gut microbiome can lead to cramping, painful gas, and uncomfortable bloating. Because these signs are so common, we tend to focus on suppressing these symptoms with over the counter remedies versus identifying the root cause. If you have regular stomach aches, be sure to mention this to your doctor.
#2 Gas and Bloating
Gas is a normal part of the digestion process. It is formed in your large intestines when bacteria ferment carbohydrates, and the excess gas is expelled from the body via the anus. However, sometimes the gas builds up because you are unable to release it. This causes pain and discomfort and is referred to as gas pain or bloating. Gas can be caused by several things, including eating certain foods, overeating, eating processed foods and a disruption of the gut microbiome.
#3 Multiple Food Sensitivities
A food sensitivity can manifest as headaches, bloating, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, constipation or diarrhea, and even mood changes. If you experience these reactions after eating, it may not be the “foods,” but rather your digestive system needs support.
#4 Weight Changes
Gut bacteria play a crucial role in regulating hunger and digestion, among other things. Since the food you eat influences the microbiota in your gut, these bacteria help your body maintain a healthy weight. An unhealthy diet will lead to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. When more harmful bacteria are present, most of your regulatory systems are thrown out of whack. You will be more likely to feel hungry when this happens. Besides this, bad gut bacteria are also responsible for specific unhealthy cravings, such as craving sugary foods. And because these bacteria thrive on sugar, the more you consume, the more their numbers will grow, making you crave even more. The result of this is rapid weight gain
#5 Skin Problems
Frustrated with blotchy skin, rashes, and breakouts that won’t go away no matter what you do? Digestive problems often shows up externally as skin irritation and breakouts. Skin conditions like eczema, acne, and dry skin is the body’s way of communicating to you that something is wrong.
Your gut is in direct contact with your brain. Certain species of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract are responsible for the production of Lipopolysaccharide, a toxin that causes inflammation. A breakdown of communication may cause too much of this toxin to pass through the leaky gut into the blood leading to headaches and other problems
#7 Constipation or Loose Stools
Constipation and loose stools are common gut problems. Constipation is a common problem where you experience bowel movements less frequently than you normally do. You also experience difficulties in passing poop and your poops are harder than usual. Constipation occurs as a result of changes in diet, medication, being less active, and illness. Loose stools, on the other hand, are bowel movements that are abnormally watery. They often happen after eating. Causes of loose poops include certain foods, food poisoning, or IBS.
Having a pro-inflammatory environment inside your body can be exhausting, and you might not even know it. Your gut might be the reason why you feel so tired even though you had plenty of sleep. A healthy gut can help you feel energetic and ready to take on the day.
#9 Bad Moods
Recent studies show that there is a complex connection between the brain and the gut. This means that your gut health is affected by the brain and your gut may even affect your mental health. The gut microbiota influences the interaction between the gut and the brain. They also play an important role in regulating what is absorbed by the body and what is excreted. A breakdown in the communication between the brain and the gut will affect the functioning of the gut and the relationship with the gut microbiota.
#10 Autoimmune Diseases
Research has shown intestinal permeability plays a role in immune dysregulation. Intestinal permeability is known as leaky gut. It is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes more permeable. Because of this hyperpermeability, the small intestines fail to work correctly, allowing substances like toxins, partially digested food, and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream
The foreign substances that leak into the bloodstream may trigger autoimmune responses in the body. This results in allergic and inflammatory reactions such as irritable bowel, eczema, food allergies, and fatigue. Other symptoms include nutritional deficiencies, chronic diarrhea and constipation, low immunity, and migraines.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Now that you know how serious gut problems can get, it is important to take precautionary measures to ensure your gut’s safety. Your goal is to stabilize your digestive system and help your abdomen regain the microbiome balance that you had. Below is a list of the top eight ways to support your gut’s health.
Lower Your Stress
Stress is responsible for causing several gastrointestinal complications such as loss of appetite, bloating, cramping, and inflammation. It causes faster heart and breathing rates, increased blood pressure and muscle tension, and a rise in blood cholesterol. This, in turn, leads to an increase in acids in your stomach, causing indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, and nausea. There are many ways to destress. For example, you can manage your stress levels through regular exercise, psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, and eating healthy.
Drink More Water
Drinking clean water has a myriad of health benefits other than just quenching your thirst. It is one of the most important things when it comes to maintaining a healthy gut. Water speeds up your metabolism rate and helps regulate your appetite. Also, when you drink water before a meal, it makes it easier to eat only what you need to feel satisfied.
Apart from this, water also helps in maintaining the balance of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal system. It plays an essential role in the development of the mucus layer on the intestinal walls which helps food move more smoothly down the gut. Water is also good for the cleansing of the colon.
Fix Your Sleep
Quality of sleep and gut health are interconnected. Poor sleep has a negative effect on your gut health. Sleep deprivation leads to the death of certain bacteria while others proliferate. This results in a shift of the delicate balance of microbiota in your gut. This imbalance will then lead to a host of other issues, including weight gain, heartburn, changes in your metabolism rate, and other long-term effects.
Improve Your Diet
Making better food choices is one important way to promote a healthy digestive tract. Eating a variety of foods leads to diverse microbiota. The more species of bacteria you have, the higher number of health benefits they will provide. Eating foods rich in fiber helps in guarding gut health. Choosing whole foods over processed foods is beneficial as processed foods lose their original nutrients during the manufacturing process. Fermented foods are rich in lactobacilli, a bacteria that can benefit the function of the microbiota. Limiting your intake of refined carbs and following a high fiber diet will help in maintaining a healthy gut.
Use Prebiotics and Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the body. The word probiotic means “for life.” We have beneficial bacteria in our body naturally, but antibiotics, chlorinated water, over the counter prescription medications, poor diet, stress and poor gut motility – all deplete these essential microbes. Consuming probiotic supplements can help support a healthy microbiota. While probiotics are transient, they modulate the immune system and benefit our natural microbiota while in transit.
Eliminate Trigger Foods
When you eat foods that your body has sensitivities towards, it provokes your immune system, leading to inflammation. It helps to keep a record of your meals and how your body is feeling after eating meals. This will help you identify what foods cause what effects, placing you in a better position to eliminate certain foods from your diet if needed.
Move Your Body
Exercise helps restore the body to balance. Studies have shown that exercising increases good bacteria in the gut, which produces fatty acid called ‘butyrate.’ Butyrate is useful in repairing the gut lining, which reduces inflammation. People who exercise are also more likely to have a healthier diet, which is also beneficial in promoting a healthier digestive system.
4 RECIPES TO JUMP-START YOUR GUT HEALTH
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1 small teaspoon maple syrup
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups warm water
1 scoop of collagen (I use Beauty Gen Naked Collagen)
Mix all the ingredients in a large pitcher and serve.
GOODBYE BLOAT SMOOTHIE
1 ½ cups coconut water
½ cup blueberries
2 cups butter leaf lettuce/organic baby spinach/kale
1 scoop grain-free plant-based protein powder (my go to is from Natures Nutrition – Perfect Plant Protein in Vanilla, cost effective and deicious)
Blend and enjoy!
(Potassium is a mineral that your body needs to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte. It helps your nerves to function and muscles to contract. It helps your heartbeat stay regular. It helps move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells.)
1 large leek
1 bunch celery
4 red potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1 cup of mushrooms (any variety)
1 bunch parsley
1 bulb garlic, paper peeled
1 strip kombu seaweed
2 bay leaves
Roughly chop all the vegetables, then add them to a large soup pot over medium heat. Add enough water to cover the vegetables, plus an extra inch.
Cover and simmer on low heat for about 4 hours. Strain the vegetables and use the broth as a base for soup
½ cup buckwheat groats (Activated – To activate, make sure you soak the buckwheat overnight or +- 6 hours)
¾ cup water
½ cup coconut milk / coconut yogurt
¾ c fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon maple syrup / honey / date syrup / coconut nectar
To cook the buckwheat, place a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add buckwheat, water, and a pinch of sea salt. Mix well and cover. Cook for about 18 to 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool before fluffing with a fork.
To serve, mix in coconut milk / coconut yogurt with blueberries, flax seeds, and sweetener of choice.
Your digestive system is essential and has a significant impact on your overall well-being. Adequate sleep, a whole foods diet, lower stress levels, and hydration are crucial factors that make up a healthy digestive system. Adopting a healthier lifestyle may prove to make a positive impact on our gut health and good well-being.
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