Gut health can have significant effects on our overall well-being, mental health, and mood.
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In this article:
- What Is the Meaning of Gut Health?
- What Are the Symptoms of an Unhealthy Gut?
- What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- What Are Ways to Improve Gut Health and Prevent a Leaky Gut?
- Can Drinking Water Improve Your Gut Health?
- Which Foods Improve Gut Health?
- Does Gut Health Affect Mental Health?
- How Does Gut Health Affect the Brain?
- Can Your Gut Affect Your Mood?
- What Is Your Skin Telling You About Your Gut Health?
- Can Your Gut Bacteria Help You Lose Weight?
- How Does Gut Health Impact Hormone Balance?
- How Does Gut Health Affect the Immune System?
Improving Your Gut Health with Alkaline Water
What Is the Meaning of Gut Health?
‘Gut health’ is commonly used in food and beverage marketing and medical literature. The term covers several positive aspects of the body’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract or ‘gut’.
Gut health includes food digestion and absorption, the absence of GI ailments, normal gut bacteria, functioning immune system, and general well-being. Medical professionals and scientists don’t have an exact definition for gut health, and how it’s measured.
What Are the Symptoms of an Unhealthy Gut?
High stress levels, sleep deprivation, consuming processed and sugary foods, and taking antibiotics can all cause damage to our gut. This can have adverse effects on our immune system, cognition, weight, hormone levels, heart health, and more.
There are many ways that an impaired digestive system can manifest itself. These are the seven most common signs of an unhealthy gut:
- Stomach disturbances like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn point to the difficulty in processing food consumed and excreting waste.
- A diet high in added sugars and processed foods decreases the amount of good bacteria in the gut, leading to increased inflammation in the body.
- Gaining or losing weight without diet changes or exercise habits may be a sign of an unhealthy, imbalanced gut.
- Gut damage can disrupt your slumber causing sleep disturbances and constant fatigue.
- Skin conditions like eczema occur due to inflammation in the gut.
- Impaired immune system functioning result in allergies and infection.
- Poor quality of gut bacteria causes food intolerance, problems in digestion, and, sometimes, a leaky gut.
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where the tight junctions of the intestinal walls become loose. This then allows harmful substances, like toxins, bacteria, and other undigested food particles, to flow into your bloodstream.
Leaky gut syndrome is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It can exist and occur along with many diseases; it’s unclear if it’s a symptom or underlying cause of another chronic disease.
What Are Ways to Improve Gut Health and Prevent a Leaky Gut?
Because leaky gut syndrome is not an official medical diagnosis, there is not yet a leaky gut treatment recommended by health professionals. In any case, you can improve your digestive health with some simple steps.
Follow the following tips to support a healthier gut:
- Limit intake of refined carbs.
- Take probiotic supplements.
- Eat fermented foods.
- Follow a high-fiber diet.
- Limit the usage of NSAIDs.
Can Drinking Water Improve Your Gut Health?
Loading up on water daily has a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines. Water can also promote the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
Alkaline water, specifically, is a great option in maintaining gut health because it has colon-cleansing and detoxifying properties. It can also encourage the growth of probiotics which aid the body in nutrient extraction.
Which Foods Improve Gut Health?
One of the best ways to improve digestive health is to eat foods which can help promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. The following foods are great options for improving gut health:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Tubers and roots
- Fermented vegetables
- Sprouted seeds and nuts
- Gluten-free grains
- Meats and eggs
- Herbs and spices
- Cultured dairy products
Avoiding processed foods is just as crucial in improving digestive function and health. These unhealthy foods can cause inflammation in the body, promoting the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria:
- Wheat-based products
- Grains which contain gluten
- Processed meat
- Baked goods
- Junk food and fast food
- Dairy products
- Refined oil
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugary snacks
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Does Gut Health Affect Mental Health?
The gastrointestinal tract can be quite sensitive to our emotions. Feelings like anxiety, anger, elation, and sadness can all trigger symptoms in our digestive tract.
The brain can directly affect our intestines and our stomach. Even just thinking about eating can make the brain release stomach juices before we take in food.
How Does Gut Health Affect the Brain?
The gut-brain connection goes both ways as a troubled digestive system also sends signals to the brain. Distress in a person’s digestive system can cause stress, depression, or anxiety.
Can Your Gut Affect Your Mood?
The gut and the brain interact closely, which is why we can feel nauseated when we’re nervous, or we feel intestinal pain when we’re stressed.
Our moods and emotions can combine with physical factors to cause digestive pain and other bowel symptoms. Psychosocial and psychological stressors can also influence the symptoms and the actual physiology of the gut.
What Is Your Skin Telling You About Your Gut Health?
Sometimes, when our skin doesn’t respond well to skin care products and treatments, the underlying source of this problem may be in the gut. Digestive problems and indigestion can affect the way your body retains the nutrients in your diet.
Poor gut health leads to poor absorption of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins we need to keep skin healthy. This issue may also potentially worsen our existing skin conditions.
Can Your Gut Bacteria Help You Lose Weight?
Gut bacteria can affect your weight by influencing how your body digests different types of food. Certain species of digestive bacteria can digest dietary fibers, which aids in weight loss.
A healthy gut microbiome can digest flavonoids, antioxidants found in plants, which can help prevent weight gain. It may also influence how the intestines absorb and store dietary fats.
Gut Microbiome Definition: The population of microorganisms in the intestine.
How Does Gut Health Impact Hormone Balance?
Leaky gut syndrome and other digestive imbalances can impact hormones, like estrogen.
For example, the said conditions can disrupt the estrogen-metabolizing gut bacteria called estrobolome. The resulting imbalance can put a woman at risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer.
Generally speaking, the overpopulation of bad gut bacteria can cause dysbiosis or gut flora imbalance, resulting in metabolic and brain hormone imbalances.
How Does Gut Health Affect the Immune System?
A healthy gut microbiome keeps bad bacteria from outnumbering and overpowering the good bacteria in our system. It stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that prevent intestinal inflammation caused by bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Gut health is more crucial to our overall health and well-being than we realize. Everything from our skin’s condition, mental health, and bodily processes can rely on and be affected by our digestive system, so remember to take care of it!
How do you keep your gut healthy? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!