Your guide to how your gut health affects your body and what to do about it
Do you often experience stomach pain? Feel bloated or constipated?
When there’s something amiss about your stomach, nothing feels right. And it’s not all in your head. Chronic gastrointestinal issues or pain take a toll on your body and mental health.
Your body gives you many signals when your digestion is not at its best, and for good reason. The gut affects almost everything in your body.
To take charge of your overall health, you need to make sure your gut is in its best shape.
What does the gut do?
Your gut is made up of many important organs. They do not just absorb food.
These organs affect your immunity, heart and sleep. The health of the gut is even linked to mental health.
Much of this influence is due to gut bacteria.
What is the gut microbiome?
About 100 trillion bacteria and flora live in your stomach and intestines. Your gut microbiome is so important and extensive that it’s classified as an organ system.
Gut bacteria feed on fiber to help you digest it. They also produce chemicals that your body needs, like hormones.
This is why the diversity, number, and balance of bacteria in your gut are important. Taking care of your gut means tending to this amazing microbiome that keeps you healthy.
As research on the gut microbiome progresses, scientists are realizing surprising connections between your gut health and the health of your other organs. To know how to maintain or improve your health, you need to know your gut health affects your body.
Is Your Digestive System Affecting Your Whole Body?
An unhealthy gut can cause many problems.
This is a no-brainer.
- Heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and pain all signal an unhealthy gut. It means your body is having difficulty absorbing nutrients from your food and passing it along to become waste.
- When chronic, digestive issues may be a symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). All these symptoms combine can affect motivation, mood, your enjoyment of food and life. IBS is an issue of the large intestine and can be controlled with measures to keep your gut healthy.
Your sleep problems or tiredness may be caused by your gut.
- A whopping 95% of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut(1). This hormone affects your brain, and the entire body produces feelings of happiness and regulates rest. This is why imbalances in gut bacteria can cause sleep issues and fatigue
Depression and anxiety
The secret to happiness may lie in your stomach and intestines. Your mental health depends on your gut health.
- The complex community of bacteria in your gut must be balanced. When bad bacteria outnumber good bacteria, this imbalance is linked to depression and anxiety (2).
- Low serotonin is linked to depression. Because gut bacteria produce most serotonin in your body, poor gut health can even cause depression.
Do you struggle to feel satisfied, and have cravings even when you’re eating normally? It’s not clear how gut bacteria regulate weight, but studies show a definite link between the two.
- Studies show that obese people have different gut bacteria than lean people (3). Obesity is also linked to a less diverse gut microbiome (4).
- Because gut bacteria help you digest food, an unhealthy microbiome can indirectly lead to weight gain. When your gut cannot absorb nutrients well, you may feel urges to overeat.
Immune System Issues
Fatigue, sleep disturbances and digestion problems may also be related to inflammation. Inflammation is a normal immune response from your body to heal itself. But it becomes a problem when it's chronic.
- If you have chronic inflammation, it probably began in your gut. When the balance of unhealthy and healthy bacteria is disturbed, chemicals produced in the body cause inflammatory responses (5).
- Within the gut, ulcerative colitis happens when the bowels become inflamed. It’s a chronic, often debilitating condition. Treatment is focused on improving diet to alleviate symptoms of digestive discomfort and to prevent life-threatening complications.
Yes- even heart health is connected to the gut microbiome.
- In a study involving 617 middle-aged women, it was found that those with greater health and diversity of gut microbiome had lower levels of arterial stiffness (6). As you age, your arteries naturally become more stiff, which can cause heart disease.
Studies like this show that targeting the gut may be the key to improving heart health.
If you have any health issues listed here, a healthy gut to be the solution.
How To Improve Gut Health
Foods to eat
The key to improving your gut health is to have a good balance of bacteria in your gut.
To get rid of digestive discomfort, a healthy diet is key. You need to eat a variety of fresh foods that can nourish your gut bacteria and keep your health in top shape.
- Vegetables and whole grains contain insoluble fiber. Fiber helps to cleanse the insides of the gut as the food moves along.
- Legumes and beans contain soluble fiber. This helps you feel full longer. These foods are also called prebiotics. They promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
- Yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi have probiotic properties. While prebiotics supply food to the existing bacteria, probiotics introduce new bacteria in your gut. Probiotics contain strains of healthy bacteria to balance your gut microbiome.
- Avocados, olive oil, and nuts contain good fats that are essential for the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (8).
- Water prevents constipation and absorbs nutrients
- Fruits, like apples, papaya and bananas are rich in substances that aid digestion. Inulin in bananas promotes the growth of good bacteria. Fruits also contain water and prebiotic soluble fiber.
Aside from a diet that contains plenty of fermented foods, yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, supplements can be a good addition. Supplements may be especially helpful if you have been taking antibiotics, to get back your healthy gut microbiome.
- Apple Cider Vinegar contains both pre-and probiotics and encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
- Ginger has been used in traditional medicine to heal stomach aches. Studies show that it is effective for nausea and vomiting (7).
- Probiotic supplements contain strains of good bacteria, like Lactobacillus, to balance your gut microbiome.
- Digestive enzyme supplements can help with IBS (9) and IBD(10) symptoms.
A pill can never be a magic bullet, but it may be a great option to make sure you're getting enough nutrition for your gut microbiome.
Your hectic schedule may make it difficult for you to keep track of all the healthy and fermented foods you need to eat. You may not have time to try the myriad tips and tricks. Rituals like a daily bowl of yogurt or early morning shots of apple cider vinegar slip away in the stress of a busy life.
Why Use Nano-Sized Delivery Systems
When a medication or supplement uses a nano-sized delivery system, you use a much smaller capsule for dramatically better absorption. Nano-technology improves the bioavailability of the good stuff, probiotics, in this case, to make sure your body makes full use of it.
- This means that it is easy for you to take
- It's also for your body to absorb.
Love Your Gut
The microorganisms that live in your digestive tract are always working invisibly to keep you as healthy as possible. Your gut health takes care of the health of your:
- immune system
To take charge of your well-being, take care of the flora and bacteria in your gut. Support them with a healthy diet and high-quality supplements.