Gut health is key to overall health. This is because the gut, which is also known as the gastrointestinal tract, is the organ system responsible for digesting the food we eat. The mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines work together to extract energy and nutrients from food our body needs to thrive. Rectum and anus get rid of any leftover waste.
Although our lives are hectic, they can sometimes damage our gut health, which is easy to do because our gut is very complicated.
Tummy troubles are something that almost all of us have experienced at some point in our lives. An unhappy gut can make anyone miserable, whether it is due to a gluten intolerance, indigestion, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Your Gut is Your ‘Second Brain’
Our gut contains millions of nerve cells which help to control digestion. It can sense the food we’ve eaten and respond to it accordingly, adjusting digestive secretions, absorbing nutrients while informing our brain of what’s going on.
Our brain and our gut are closely connected in order to regulate digestion. When we’re stressed, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, which means that we’re more focused on survival than on digesting our food. That’s why stress can cause symptoms like bloating.
If you get upset while you’re eating, you’re more likely to have digestive problems.
If you get upset while eating at a fish restaurant, you may later have a negative reaction to fish.
Gut Bacteria and Body Health
The effect of the gut microbiome on your body begins at birth.
The microbes you are first exposed to are the ones on your mother’s body as you pass through the birth canal. Although it was previously believed that babies are sterile when inside the womb, new evidence suggests that they may come in contact with some microbes while inside the womb.
As you grow older, the number of different types of microbes in your gut increases. Higher microbiome diversity is considered good for your health.
Interestingly, the food you eat affects the diversity of your gut bacteria. As your microbiome grows, it affects your body in a number of ways, including:
Digesting breast milk: Some of the bacteria that first begin to grow inside babies’ intestines are called Bifidobacteria. The enzymes in their gut help them to digest the healthy sugars in breast milk that are important for growth.
Certain bacteria in the gut break down fiber, releasing short-chain fatty acids that are important for gut health. High-fiber foods may help you lose weight and reduce your risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The gut microbiome helps to control the immune system by training the immune cells to determine which cells are beneficial for the body and which ones should be destroyed. The gut microbiome is able to communicate with immune cells, which allows it to control how the body responds to infection.
The gut microbiome may also affect the central nervous system, which controls brain function according to new research.
The gut microbiome refers to the collection of bacteria that live in the intestines. These bacteria can influence key bodily functions and affect your health.
The gut microbiome has a significant impact on the body from birth and throughout life. It aids in the digestion of food, controls the immune system, and influences the central nervous system and other bodily processes.
Gut Bacteria and Weight
Several studies have shown that there are significant differences in the gut microbiome between identical twins, one of whom is obese and the other of whom is healthy. This demonstrated that the microbiome was not a result of genetics.
The study found that when the microbiome from an obese person was transferred to mice, they gained more weight than the mice that received the microbiome from a lean person, even though both groups were on the same diet.
The studies suggest that an imbalance of microbes in the body may contribute to weight gain.
Thankfully, probiotics can help maintain a healthy microbiome and promote weight loss. although studies suggest that probiotics have only a small effect on weight loss, with people losing less 2.2 pounds (1 kg) on average.
An imbalance of gut bacteria may cause weight gain, but probiotics could help to fix gut health and promote weight loss.
Gut Bacteria and Heart Health
TMAO is produced by certain unhealthy species in the gut microbiome and may contribute to heart disease. TMAO is a chemical that can cause blocked arteries, which may lead to heart attacks or stroke.
The microbiome is home to certain bacteria that can convert choline and L-carnitine, which are nutrients found in red meat and other animal-based food sources, into TMAO. This could potentially increase the risk factors for heart disease.
Other bacteria in the gut microbiome, particularly Lactobacilli, may help reduce cholesterol when taken as a probiotic.
Some bacteria in the gut microbiome can create chemicals that can clog arteries and cause heart disease. Probiotics may help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Gut Bacteria and Blood Sugar and Diabetes
The study found that the diversity of the microbiome dropped suddenly before the onset of type 1 diabetes. The study found that the levels of a number of unhealthy bacterial species increased just before the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Even when people ate the exact same foods, their blood sugar levels varied greatly. The different types of bacteria in their guts may be the reason why.
The microbiome in the gut plays a role in controlling blood sugar and children’s type 1 diabetes.
Signs of a Healthy Gut
1. Healthy Bowel Movements
Our stools can be a great indicator of gut health because they are a part of our digestive system. The ideal stool is sausage-like and smooth, not hard, lumpy, or really squishy.
While foul bathroom odors may not be attributable to roses, they could be indicative of a problem.
2. You’re not Bloated Often
If you don’t feel bloated after most meals, it may be a sign that your gut is healthy.
Although passing wind 10-20 times a day is considered normal, you may want to improve your gut health if you experience this more frequently.
3. You can Poo Without Pain
One key indication of a healthy gut is that you can go to the bathroom without any pain or having to work too hard.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
1. Constipation or Irregular Stools
If you are having difficulty passing hard stool, this is a sign of constipation and indicates that your gut is not as healthy as it could be.
This also applies to loose and watery stools, also known as diarrhea. You should drink plenty of water, eat lots of fiber, and exercise regularly.
A condition in which a person has difficulty passing stool, constipation is common and affects people of all ages. Everyone’s bowel habits are different but you’re likely to be experiencing constipation if:
- you’ve been to the loo three times or less this week
- your stools feel larger than usual and difficult to push out
- your stools are hard, dry or lumpy
Some people also experience stomach pain or a feeling of being full or bloated.
While most of us experience occasional constipation, some experience it as a more chronic condition. A person may experience constipation if they do not eat enough fiber or drink enough fluids. Not getting enough exercise is also a significant factor in making it more likely that you will have slower than normal bowel movements.
2. Upset Stomach
In addition to problems with going to the bathroom, other signs that your gut is unhealthy can include abdominal bloating, gas, and heartburn. If your gut is balanced, you will digest food better and get rid of waste more efficiently.
3. Poor Sleep
Having trouble sleeping can be the result of our body’s production of serotonin. Serotonin is predominantly produced in the gut. A unbalanced gut microbiome may result in less serotonin production, which in turn may affect an individual’s sleep.
An increasingly popular area of research suggests that an imbalance of gut bacteria might be causing inflammation. What are the consequences for your health if you don’t do anything about it?
Inflammation is a crucial part of our immune response, enabling us to heal. Chronic, low-level inflammation is not as helpful as it could be. It often spreads throughout the body.
Some experts believe that chronic inflammation could be caused by our gut, but there is a way to help bring your body back into balance.
5. Spot-Prone Skin
Your blemishes could be caused by poor gut health.
People with acne are more likely to have a permeable gut lining, according to a large study review published in the Gut Pathogens journal in 2011.
Improving Gut Bacteria
This can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is an indicator of good gut health. In particular, legumes, beans and fruit contain lots of fiber and can promote the growth of healthy Bifidobacteria.
Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir all contain healthy bacteria, mainly Lactobacilli, and can reduce the amount of disease-causing species in the gut.
Some evidence has shown that artificial sweeteners like aspartame increase blood sugar by stimulating the growth of unhealthy bacteria like Enterobacteriaceae in the gut microbiome.
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. Prebiotic-rich foods include artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats and apples.
Breastfeeding is very important for the development of the gut microbiome. Children who are breastfed for at least six months have more beneficial Bifidobacteria than those who are bottle-fed.
Whole grains contain lots of fiber and beneficial carbs like beta-glucan, which are digested by gut bacteria to benefit weight, cancer risk, diabetes and other disorders.
Vegetarian diets may help reduce levels of disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli, as well as inflammation and cholesterol.
Polyphenols are plant compounds found in red wine, green tea, dark chocolate, olive oil and whole grains. They are broken down by the microbiome to stimulate healthy bacterial growth.
Probiotics are live bacteria that can help restore the gut to a healthy state after dysbiosis. They do this by “reseeding” it with healthy microbes.
Antibiotics kill many bad and good bacteria in the gut microbiome, possibly contributing to weight gain and antibiotic resistance. Thus, only take antibiotics when medically necessary.
A healthy diet that includes a variety of high-fiber and fermented foods is important for maintaining a healthy microbiome. Taking probiotics and limiting antibiotics can also be beneficial.
Rebalance Your Gut Bacteria
We may be able to address specific microbial imbalances in the future by taking targeted medicines made from friendly bacteria.
We can reduce chronic inflammation by making dietary and lifestyle changes that will improve our gut health and increase the number and variety of our gut microbes.
To reduce stress, stay active, and achieve a balanced diet, you should base your diet around whole foods. You should try to eat a lot of different fruits and vegetables in order to get a wide range of nutrients.
Consume a variety of lean protein sources, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes and pulses, nuts, and seeds. You should avoid or limit processed foods, artificial ingredients and refined sugars.
You should eat foods that are high in fiber in order to nourish the microbes in your gut. Some examples of such foods include bananas, asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks, and oats.
You can improve your gut health by eating fermented foods like natural yoghurt, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, other pickled vegetables, kombucha, and aged cheese. These foods contain naturally beneficial bacteria that can help replenish the microbes in your gut.
You can also use natural ingredients in your cooking. Look for recipes that use the spice turmeric (active ingredient curcumin), ginger, and oregano.
In addition to the above, you may also want to take a supplement of beneficial bacteria, as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
The microbes that live in your gut have a big impact on your overall health. They help with digestion and boosting your immune system, among other things.
An unhealthy mix of microbes in the intestines may lead to weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and other disorders.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fermented foods can help promote the growth of healthy microbes in your gut.
READ MORE: 22 Foods And Drinks To Ease Your Bloating