5 Convincing Reasons To Take Care of Your Gut Health Today
Gut health has long been a hot topic in health circles because it impacts so many essential functions throughout the body.
In an ideal world, the esophagus, stomach, and intestines work in harmony to balance the healthy bacteria in our digestive tract. However, that is not always the case.
Persistent heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or sudden unexplainable weight loss or gain are common symptoms of an imbalanced gut. The onset of these symptoms may be indicative that you are among the 60 to 70 million people in the United States dealing with a digestive disease and should consult with a doctor.
This may sound dire, but gut issues are widespread and there are clear remedies on how to bring balance back without a prescription. Read on to see how sea moss can play a role as well.
Probiotics are live strains of bacteria that help maintain or add to the abundance of good bacteria in the digestive system.
A study from 2016 shared new findings that the ratio of bacteria cells to human cells in the body is far higher than originally believed, and cumulatively, the bacteria cells are a similar weight to the brain.
With this in mind, the role of bacteria in the body as almost another organ takes on new significance.
So how does one maintain the good bacteria in the gut? Food or supplements.
Probiotic foods to look out for will more often than not be fermented and unpasteurized. Pasteurization can kill all the good and bad bacteria, though there are always exceptions to the rule.
Here are some of the best probiotic foods for gut health:
- Yogurt or kefir
- Pickled vegetables
On the flip side, one thing to stay wary of is antibiotic overuse. It is better to not take antibiotics for typically viral infections like common colds and sore throats (unless explicitly recommended by a doctor).
Antibiotics do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria, and overuse can wipe out a lot of beneficial microorganisms and make you resistant to antibiotic treatment when truly needed.
Prebiotics are commonly found in high-fiber plant-based foods like legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Although the body is not able to digest components of these prebiotic foods, they are still beneficial for gut health because they act as food for the good bacteria and microorganisms in the digestive system, which in turn push out the “bad” bacteria.
The health benefits of sea moss are abundant and affect nearly every system in the body.
Beyond those recorded benefits though, sea moss’ anti-inflammatory properties and smooth, thick consistency can have calming effects on irritated digestive tracts. It also has antifungal properties that help increase the number of good microorganisms in the gut.
In the same way that prebiotics feed the good bacteria, an unbalanced diet high in sugary foods and unhealthy fats can help feed the bad bacteria.
Read on to learn what areas in your life can improve by keeping a healthy gut.
1. Digestive Health
A healthy gut with thriving good bacteria does a lot to prevent a variety of digestive issues like:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
The pain and bloating one may feel with these digestive issues is often due to an imbalance in the gut. The incursion of bad bacteria in the system creates extra gas and as a result, bloating.
2. Mental Health
Recently it has become common knowledge that the gut has a traceable impact on depression and some other psychological disorders because serotonin, an antidepressant, is made there.
Other related findings shared that because millions of nerves connect the gut to the brain, the gut microbiome may play a role in controlling the messages sent up.
The exact cause is not certain, but many studies have shown that the bacteria types in the gut microbiome of people with different psychological disorders greatly differ from those of the healthy control group.
3. Immune Health
Using prebiotics and probiotics in tandem can increase immunity by adding more strains of good bacteria to block off the growth of the bad.
Some studies have even found that additional good bacteria can help the body create more antibodies and protect the body from or reduce the length of intestinal infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and respiratory infections.
4. Heart Health
A study from 2015 found that the gut microbiome plays a significant role in changes in triglyceride levels, too much of which increases the risk of strokes.
It also causes variation in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, the “good” cholesterol.
Having a balanced gut may also lower the risk for diabetes. It has been found that gut biodiversity drops and the bad bacteria increases before the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Other studies have shared that when measuring responses to 46,898 identical meals in an 800-person cohort, there was “high variability” in glucose levels, suggesting both that dietary recommendations may not mean much on an individual basis and that blood sugar levels may vary based on different gut microbiomes.
Moreover, nurturing the good bacteria in the gut microbiome is important because some unhealthy microflora in the gut convert certain nutrients found in red meat and other food sourced from animals into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which has been known to increase the risk for heart disease.
5. Body Health
Not all weight fluctuations, be they gains or losses, are unhealthy. However, unexplainable weight gain may be a symptom of gut dysbiosis.
Gut dysbiosis is an imbalance of the good and bad organisms living in the digestive tract.
An interesting study used the gut microbes of twins who had the same diet, one who was obese and the other not, on mice to observe how the microorganisms may affect their health.
What they found was that the group of mice who were given the larger twins microbiome gained more weight than the other group. This indicates that gut microbiomes play a larger part in body mass than originally thought.
Where To Go From Here
To summarize, here are a few good rules of thumb to follow regardless of health issues:
- Eat a great variety of plant-based foods because food diversity leads to better gut biodiversity.
- Eating what is in season is not only one way to ensure you are getting a range of foods year-round, but it is also more cost-effective and better for the environment.
- Eat consciously (stop right before the “full” feeling) to avoid digestive discomfort.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent constipation and help with digestion.
- If tracking will not trigger disordered eating, keep a food journal to make connections between certain digestive issues and food.
- Exercise to help with constipation and stress, which on their own can cause digestive issues.
- Sleep to feel well-rested—poor sleep may cause bloating, constipation, and nausea.