Our gut holds 80% of our immune system. If you want to be a healthier, happier version of yourself, take a look into what we mean by "gut health". Get ready to make some simple changes that will improve your life.
Here are 7 signs of an unhealthy gut and how to fix it. But first, let's talk about the functions of the gut microbiome.
What is the "Gut Microbiome"?
Microbiome refers to microorganisms that live in a particular environment. When talking about the digestive tract and gut, we're talking about bacteria that live there as opposed to other areas of the body.
There're around 500 different species of bacteria in the digestive tract. This comprises of both good and bad microorganisms.
Current estimates say that we have a 1:1 ratio of human cells to bacteria. They're prevalent, but what do they do? The gut microbiome ties into all of our body's systems, including the immune system as previously mentioned.
When our gut microbiome becomes off-balance, we suffer from many illnesses such as metabolic and allergic diseases, skin conditions, mental health issues, and cancer.
How do you know if you have an unhealthy microbiome? There are tests available to see how it's doing.
How does microbiome testing work? Well, it's not as simple as taking one test and knowing the entirety of your gut health. Testing shows your system at one point in time, which doesn't account for daily fluctuations.
Rather than getting a test, consider observing symptoms of an unhealthy gut and doing what you can to correct it.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
1. Stomach Issues
Perhaps it occurs right after you eat or well after your body digests food. Indications of an unhealthy gut are bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and gas.
When you don't have the proper balance of bacteria in your body, your stomach can't break down food correctly. This results in digestive pains and symptoms.
2. Skin Irritation
An excess of unabsorbed protein in your system causes your skin to flare up. This could manifest as acne or eczema.
3. Sugar Cravings
If you have a high-sugar diet, you're bound to be in a cycle of sugar cravings. The stomach has a hard time with processed sugars, resulting in an inability to regulate blood sugar and digest normally.
Cutting sugar will have an effect on more than just your gut.
4. Suppressed Immune System
Do you seem to get sick often? Are infections a regular occurrence for you?
As we mentioned before, the gut holds 80% of our immune system. So, if you notice that your immune system isn't very strong, it could be your gut.
5. Mental Effects
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, this could be an indicator of your gut health. The same thing goes for unexplained mood swings and irritability.
One of the systems affected by gut health is the endocrine system. This is the system in the body responsible for hormone production and regulation.
Our brain and systems do everything they do because of hormones (and other intrinsic factors, of course). Thus, an imbalanced gut negatively affects the endocrine system.
Another mental effect is poor memory and concentration. If any of this sounds familiar, it would be worth doing more research to see how you can improve your gut health.
6. Sleep Issues
Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you feel tired all the time?
Again, this may link to an imbalanced gut. Hormones such as melatonin play into your sleep cycle.
If you feel tired all the time, it could be due to the fact that your body isn't getting enough energy from the food you're eating. It may have a hard time getting everything it can out of what you ingest.
7. Food Intolerances
Speaking of what you ingest, do you find that eating some foods cause your stomach issues to flare up? We're not talking about food allergies here.
Difficulty digesting is a common sign of an unhealthy gut.
If you relate to any of these symptoms, there are things you can do to improve your gut health.
Things to Make Your Gut Healthier
Hydration is key for your body to work as it should. There are various suggestions and research as to how much you should drink.
A general rule of thumb is to drink when you're thirsty. Your urine should be more clear than colored.
Eat Lectin-free Foods
Lectins are plant proteins that can harm gut health in certain sensitive individuals. Dr. Steven Gundry, author of the Plant Paradox diet, recommends consuming only lectin-free foods for at least 6 weeks, and then gradually reintroducing them one at a time.
This gives your digestive tract more time to process food rather than having to do it all at once in a short period. Eating slowly is also a good mindfulness practice and a way to keep from overeating.
Stress has a physical impact on your body (a perfect example of this is headaches).
To stress less, try exercise as an outlet. This is hitting two birds with one stone, as exercise is also a gut-booster.
Alongside a daily vitamin, consider taking prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are actually live bacteria. You can get prebiotics and probiotics naturally from food, but if you have an off-balanced system, it would be wise to supplement in addition to that.
There are also many nutrient supplements that improve digestive health. These include vitamins A, C, and E, L-glutamine, and fish oil. To really get your body in a healthy and happy place, consider herbal supplements.
Cut Out Bad Food
This includes processed sugar and inflammatory foods. If you notice your system has a hard time digesting something, try not to eat it and see how you feel without it.
Research shows that high-fat diets reduce healthy bacteria in your gut. So, eat different food groups in moderation and eat in moderation in general.
Eat More Good Food
The gut loves soluble, high fiber foods. This includes beans, oats, some fruits, and greens. Garlic and onion also have beneficial effects on the digestive system.
Opt for more collagen-boosting and fermented foods.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
If you're overwhelmed by changing your entire diet and lifestyle, try implementing small change. You'll notice a big difference over time.
Keep doing research on how you can make your body -- the house you live in -- the healthiest and most functional it can be.
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