If you want to improve your overall health, gut health is one of the best places to start! The gastrointestinal tract is the organ that absorbs all the nutrients needed to fuel and power the body. Gut health specifically refers to the balance of bacteria in your digestive system. The bacteria, also referred to as a microbiome, influences many aspects of the body including the immune system, metabolism, and physiology. Gut health is on the forefront of medical research with many studies demonstrating a correlation between gut bacteria and human illness.
Signs of Poor Gut Health
Your body requires a colony of good bacteria to digest and process the nutrients passing through the digestive system. When your gut is overwhelmed by harmful bacteria, it can lead to an imbalance that causes illness. Here are some signs you may be experiencing poor gut health:
· Frequent abdominal pain– Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and heartburn. This indicates your body is not digesting food correctly.
· An increase in sugar cravings– Often this is evidence of an overindulgence in processed foods, leading to a lack of good bacteria in the gut. This creates a snowball effect as your body craves even more processed foods to satisfy the bad bacteria. Research has linked a high intake of sugar with increased inflammatory processes in the body.
· Unexplained changes in weight– The microbiome in the digestive system is not only helpful in the absorption of nutrients, but it also helps to maintain blood sugar levels and fat storage in the body. Weight loss has been associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is due to malabsorption, leading to a deficit in caloric intake. Weight gain could be caused by an unhealthy gut lining, influencing the appetite hormones necessary to tell your body when it is full.
· Chronic fatigue or poor sleep– A hormone called serotonin is primarily made in the gut and has a large impact on sleeping habits. With a proper diet and healthy balance of bacteria, the gut can more easily make this hormone to regulate sleep.
· Skin rashes or irritation– Food allergies or a poor diet can be detrimental to gut health and can cause irritation of the skin. This irritation occurs through inflammation or by other unknown mechanisms, leading to conditions such as acne or dermatitis.
How to Improve Your Gut Health
If you are showing signs of poor gut health, or if you are simply looking to increase the good bacteria in your digestive system, here are the top 3 ways to improve your gut health:
1. Enhance your diet
Eating less processed foods and more whole foods will allow the digestive tract to heal and maintain a healthy microbiome. Fiber has shown to have a positive impact on the balance of bacteria in the digestive system. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will lead to improved gut health.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
Mucus on the surface of the digestive tract, called the mucosal lining, is what maintains the gut microbiome. This mucosal lining is made up of more than 98% water. Drinking plenty of water will help keep the mucus and good bacteria in a healthy balance.
3. Take a Probiotic Supplement
A probiotic supplement is composed of live microorganisms. This supplement is intended to be ingested for the purpose of improving the microbiome in the gut. This is a quick and simple way to create a better balance of good bacteria.
Sometimes, improving your gut health may require help from a professional to address your specific needs. In this case, it is important to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. At Brand Surgical, we offer the most comprehensive and advanced gastroenterologist services. Call us today at (818) 243-9999 for more questions or to schedule an appointment!