Feeling off lately? Trouble concentrating? Maybe you haven’t heard. Your gut has super powers. It has the power to control the way your body looks and feels. Your digestive health even controls how you think. No joke. Your gut is a vital organ in the equation of your overall health.
Here’s a gut-wrenching thought for you. You consist of more bacteria cells than human cells. In fact, a study conducted by some of the nation’s top gastroenterologists at Yale Medical school says it’s in the area of 10 times more. It’s estimated our bodies are host to 100 TRILLION bacteria. And…each and every one is critical in keeping you strong and healthy.
So, if you want to be on top of your physical and mental game, your body’s amazing bacterial ecosystem (aka microbiome) must stay balanced and diverse. Doctors now believe that supporting good gastrointestinal (GI) health is critical to one’s vitality and longevity. Conversely, an unhealthy gut is the common denominator in many of today’s health problems.
COMMON UNHEALTHY GUT ISSUES:
• Weight Gain
Many studies have found that obese folks have a different mix of gut bacteria than their slimmer counterparts. An improper balance alters how fat is stored, how glucose is balanced in the blood, and how hormones determine hunger or fullness.
• Constipation or Diarrhea
You’re not supposed to feel bloated, gassy or make urgent trips to the toilet. Issues such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or irregular bowel movements are a sign of a gut health imbalance.
• Lingering Illness
Around 75% of your immune system is in your GI tract. An overabundance of bad bacteria, fungus or yeast can suppress your immune system leaving you susceptible to nagging coughs, colds, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.
• Mood Swings
Issues such as brain fog, mental fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression are signs of an unhealthy gut. Research shows that GI irritation sends signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that can trigger mood changes.
• Autoimmune Illness
Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis happen when healthy cells are attacked as foreign resulting in inflammation and the total breakdown of your immune system. It’s speculated that this is caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body.
• Acid Reflux
This painful problem occurs when an unbalanced digestive tract makes your stomach overproduce acid that creeps up into your esophagus.
• Skin Conditions
Your skin is the largest organ you have. It’s an expression of your overall health. The Journal of Dermatology has published multiple studies linking conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis and dermatitis as a symptom of what’s going on inside your gut.
Studies confirm a direct correlation between a less diverse microbiome and the weight-diabetes connection.
TIPS FOR A HEALTHY GUT
EAT A HIGH-FIBER DIET (Soluble & Insoluble)
Diets rich in vegetables, fruits and legumes will help you maintain a healthy digestive tract. They keep things moving along. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, a high-fiber diet also aids in preventing or reversing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. Skipping your daily dose of fiber can lead to constipation.
• SOLUBLE FIBER – turns to ‘gel’ in the stomach and slows digestion, which lowers cholesterol and blood glucose. It acts as a sponge soaking up water to prevent stools from getting too loose. Good sources: nut, seeds and legumes
• INSOLUBLE FIBER – aka ‘roughage’. Your body is unable to digest it whereby adding bulk to your stools and allowing waste to move through your intestines smoothly. Good sources: vegetables, fruit and whole grains
LIMIT HIGH-FAT FOODS
If nothing else, stay far away from fried and processed junk food. Healthy fats, on the other hand, are essential for your body to function properly. Keep in mind, however, that large amounts of fat slow down digestion and make you prone to constipation. Pairing high-fat foods with high-fiber foods makes it easier on your digestive system. There are two types of healthy fat:
• SATURATED – The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily caloric intake from five to six percent. Good sources: lean meats, coconut oil, cheese and eggs
• UNSATURATED – Omega-3 and monounsaturated fats are nutrient-rich, prevent over-eating and critical to good digestive health. Good sources: olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts and seeds
EAT ON A REGULAR SCHEDULE
Sitting down for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks at the same time each day will help keep your digestive system stay on track.
DRINK ENOUGH WATER
The healthy fiber you eat pulls water into your colon creating softer, bulkier stools that pass through easier.
Not only does a weekly exercise regimen help you maintain a healthy weight, but it also keeps food moving through your digestive tract and reduces constipation.
Stress and anxiety kick your digestive system into overdrive on a cellular and chemical level which may lead to indigestion. Find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy and practice them on a regular basis.
A healthy balance and diversity of good gut bacteria is what makes you look and feel your physical and mental best. Eating a clean, healthy diet and establishing regular exercise and stress reduction practices will ensure your health and vitality for years to come.