Poor Gut Health: Signs, Symptoms and Solutions
At one time, the human gut was thought to be the place where our food was processed and absorbed, and little was known about the delicate balance that could affect our immune system. Recent research has shown that it is more complex than previously thought and changes in our environment can have a huge impact on whole-body health.
When our gut is healthy, we see improvements with our immune system, heart health, brain health and clarity, improved mood, healthy sleep and effective digestion. It has also been shown to help prevent some cancers and autoimmune diseases. It is never too late to make a change to affect our gut and overall health.
Warning Signs of Gut Problems
Upset stomach. Bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea and heartburn are all signs that our gut is not processing food and eliminating waste.
A high-sugar diet. A diet consisting of processed foods and added sugars can reduce the amount of good gut bacteria and also cause sugar cravings. Refined sugars have been linked to increased inflammation in the body and can also be a precursor to some cancers and a number of diseases.
Unintentional weight changes. Changes to our weight up and down without any dietary changes or exercises can also be a sign of an unhealthy gut. An impaired gut is unable to absorb the nutrients, regulate blood sugar and absorb fats. Weight loss can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, or weight gain by insulin resistance or an urge to overeat with a refined sugar diet.
Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue. The majority of serotonin is produced in the gut, and an unhealthy diet and a damaged gut can affect our ability to sleep. Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia can result from an unhealthy gut biome.
Skin irritation. Inflammation can be caused by a poor diet or food allergies, and may cause more “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body. These proteins can irritate the skin and cause conditions such as eczema.
Autoimmune condition. Research is continually finding evidence of the relation between the gut and immune system. Recent research has shown a link to autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.
Food intolerances. Quite a few people these days have food intolerances, which is different from food allergies. A food allergy produces an “immune system response”. Many food intolerances are caused by an unhealthy gut and poor bacteria quality.
Tips for Boosting Gut Health
Lower stress levels. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but meditation, walking, massage, diffusing essential oils, reducing caffeine intake, yoga and having a pet are all ways to reduce stress.
Get enough sleep. We should plan on having 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day, preparing the sleep area for an optimum sleep experience. Many essential oils can help with that as well, or medication if needed.
Eat slowly. This can also help us absorb nutrients better and help fully digest our food.
Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps benefit the mucosal lining of the intestines as well as balancing the bacteria in the gut.
Take a prebiotic or probiotic. Adding prebiotics or probiotic supplements can be a great way to improve gut health. Prebiotics provide the food to promote a healthy growth of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are live good bacteria.
Check for food intolerances. Removing food triggers can help the gut. Food intolerances can also cause gas, bloating and abdominal pain, rashes and nausea. Removing a food one by one can help figure out what is causing the issue and can help the gut.
Change diets. Gut health can be improved by removing processed, high sugar, high fat foods from the diet. Eat plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein. A diet high in fiber has also been shown to help a healthy gut microbiome tremendously. Legumes, beans, peas, oats, berries, asparagus and leeks have been shown to have a positive impact on gut health. Some other foods that have proven benefits to the gut include garlic and onion, fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir) and collagen-boosting foods (bone broth, salmon).
Eliminating triggers and making changes can significantly help our gut health over time. We can start by making small changes every day.
Anne McKechnie aims to improve people’s physical, environmental, financial and personal health by providing opportunities that help people balance these four aspects and thus improve a person’s overall quality of life. Connect at 520-990-5268 or TucsonExperts@gmail.com. FamiliesWorkFromHome.com.