What’s an unhealthy gut and how much does it affect me?
Your gut has an incredible amount of control over your overall health. But it can be kind of confusing to understand why.
The gastrointestinal system, which is also referred to as the gastrointestinal tract, digestive system, digestive tract, or gut, is a group of organs that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum.
Your digestive system is home to more than 500 different types of bacteria, both good (friendly) and bad (unfriendly). Your overall health can be negatively impacted when your gut bacteria become disturbed or unbalanced. Sometimes this can happen after an infection or after taking antibiotics.
Take a look at some of the signs of poor gut health.
- Thyroid issues.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Sleep issues.
- Skin rashes and allergies.
- Sugar cravings.
- Unexplained fatigue or sluggishness.
- Unexplained mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss.
Your physician may ask about your diet or quality of food if you mention some of these symptoms after ruling out other medical causes.
So what can you do to keep your gut healthy and thriving?
- Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics, as they can reduce both good and bad bacteria in the body.
- Eat natural prebiotics. High-fiber vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are prebiotics and can improve gut health.
- Probiotics, such as fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.
- Drink more water. If you want some flavor just add in some fresh fruit!
- Cut back on processed food and sugar. Try eating whole foods, like fruits and vegetables. Bad bacteria thrive off sugar.
- Up your fiber intake. Try to add more leafy greens to your meals, as well as nuts and root vegetables.
- Reduce Stress. When your brain is stressed, the communication to your digestion system can be disrupted.
- Chew more. Taking time to chew your food helps jump-start the digestive process. As you break down your food into smaller pieces with your teeth and stimulate saliva, you also signal to the rest of your body that it’s time for the digestive system to get to work.
To check out some ideas for getting creative with your vegetables, check out our blog here.
There are a few recommended beverages that have claims to promote better digestion: ginger tea, green smoothies, kefir, peppermint tea, and kombucha.
Don’t forget to exercise!
One of the benefits of daily physical activity is that exercise helps keep us regular. When we exercise, our intestines naturally contract and pass waste through our system. Walking, swimming, Pilates and cycling, are great options to add to your exercise plan.