Gut health is one crucial element of our overall health, hence having an unhealthy gut is something that requires our attention. There are many factors affecting gut health. Some of these are a diet that is high in sugar and processed food, sleep deprivation, and elevated stress levels. One study from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences of the University of Copenhagen mentioned that the use of antibiotics are also linked to the lack of gut bacteria. Gut microbiome damage then affects other aspects of our health such as our skin, heart, brain, weight, hormone levels, nutrient absorption, and immune system.
The 5 Signs of Unhealthy Gut
An unhealthy gut manifests itself in different ways. Here are 5 signs to watch out for:
1. Digestive issues
A healthy gut won’t have chronic problems digesting foods and eliminating wastes. So, if you frequently experience constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, or heartburn, then it is time to seek medical attention. Any of these stomach disturbances signals gut issues.
2. Unplanned weight changes
Unintentionally gaining or losing weight even when you don’t alter your diet or exercise routine may also be another sign of an unhealthy gut. Bacteria that is imbalanced in the gut impairs its ability to absorb nutrients, store fat, and regulate blood sugar. Unplanned weight loss can be caused by the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines. On the other hand, weight gain or extra fat around the abdomen may be the result of your body’s resistance to insulin. This is because the gut cannot completely absorb nutrients.
3. Skin problems
Eczema and rosacea may be signs of a damaged gut. Whether from a poor diet, food allergies, or a combination, inflammation in the stomach or on the skin may result. Other skin conditions, such as dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis may also be caused by an unbalanced or unhealthy microbiome in your gut.
4. Food intolerances
Food intolerances can develop for many reasons, one of which is thought to be poor quality of gut bacteria. If this is the case, one experiences difficulty digesting the trigger foods. This then causes issues like stomach pain, bloating, gas, nausea, and diarrhea.
5. Autoimmune diseases
A study on how diet can cause microbial imbalance suggests that the intestinal microbiota play a crucial role in the immune system. This is backed up by many other medical research and studies. Research suggests an unhealthy gut causes systemic inflammation, leading to altered functioning of the immune system. Worse, this may even lead to autoimmune diseases, wherein the body attacks itself instead of harmful invaders.
Some Tips to Improve Gut Health
1. Quality sleep
Making sleep a top priority promotes gut health. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly, which offers other health benefits as well. A Swedish study involving healthy young adults revealed that being sleep deprived for 2 consecutive nights decreases the good bacteria in the digestive system by close to 50%. It is also observed that the subjects decreased their insulin resistance by 20%. Their gut bacteria also started to resemble those of obese people.
2. Healthy diet
Experts also recommend having a healthy diet to boost beneficial gut bacteria. Decrease intake of processed, high-sugar and high-fat foods. Substitute these with lean protein and plenty of plant-based foods. Eating foods that are high in fiber also promotes gut health as well as consuming probiotic-rich foods. These include kefir, yogurt, and kombucha among others. Perhaps you may ask “What is kombucha?” if this is the first time you’ve heard about it. Kombucha is a fermented tea, (sometimes referred to as tea fungus, Manchurian mushroom, or tea mushroom). Its consumption dates back to thousands of years because of its notable health benefits. It is one of those rich sources of probiotics that is good for the gut.
In A Nutshell
The gut is more than just a part of the body. It has a huge impact in our general health; therefore, it deserves nothing but our utmost attention. A healthy gut is key to a healthy heart and brain, good digestion, and improved mood. It can even prevent certain diseases. Take the necessary lifestyle changes today to promote gut health and sow the benefits of holistic health.