Your gut microbiome – the microorganisms which are also known as good bacteria in the gut that reside in your digestive tract and are vital for human health, are delicate and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to ruin it. In so many ways is your body telling you that something is not quite right and it’s your gut microbiome that’s doing the talking. The gut is not just in charge of digesting food and nutrition supply; a healthy gut contributes to immunity, skin, sleep, brain health, weight, fat metabolism, mood, motivation, and general cognition. This is one system you want to keep happy. On the off chance that your gut health is suffering, how would you know?
These are a few signs of an unhealthy gut:
- Complaining Skin: You would see it the moment you see your reflection. Blemishes, rashes, redness, breakouts, and in severe cases, acne or eczema.
- Food Intolerances: Foods that you once consumed without any consequences do not have you heaving or give you gas and make you feel bloated.
- Chronic Sleep Disruption: No matter how much you try; sleep evades making you feel stressed and you are in a foul mood all day.
- Cognitive Failure: A healthy gut keeps you on your toes so if you feel fatigued, unmotivated, have problems remembering, a short attention span then it’s a sign that your gut bugs are in trouble.
- Dancing Scales: You are a few pounds heavier than you were last week or a few pounds lighter than last month and these changes manifest with no alterations made to your diet or exercise regime.
- Sugar Cravings: You feel the need to consume candy, ice cream, sugar-rich doughnuts, or pretty much anything that gives you a sugar rush.
- Tummy Trouble: You constantly feel bloated, too full, and hungry at the same time. Meals end with a tummy ache and a sprint to the loo.
- Sick Days: Colds, flu, and cough follow you around. You seem to be constantly sick.
All these symptoms and health conditions need not manifest at once. But if you are familiar with them, chances are your gut is no longer healthy. This results in gastrointestinal complaints like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other manifestations like Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The gut microbiota lives in harmony at most times, an imbalance is called dysbiosis. There are those bacteria that aid digestion, heal diarrhea, and provide a layer of protection to the inside of intestinal microbiota and walls – the good bacteria. Alongside the good bacteria, also co-exists the bacteria that produce toxins or gas, intestinal putrefaction, and create carcinogenic substances – the bad bacteria. Normally, a balance is maintained between the good and the bad bacteria. However, a variety of reasons could disturb this balance which results in intestinal permeability – congenially known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Leaky gut is a condition that affects the lining of the intestines where substances like bacteria, undigested food, or toxins pass through the gaps in the intestinal walls to enter the bloodstream. This then causes inflammation throughout the body and causes the immune cells in the body to attack the body itself. You then have a digestive distress condition.
You can rectify the condition in a number of ways. They do involve some adjustment to life and food intake but this condition does not last a lifetime. It may recur depending on your way of life. You can recover from and avoid leaky gut in the future should your habits change. The bacteria in your gut will thank you and the risk factors for contracting such issues will be a lot lesser.
Resetting the Gut with Food
You are what you eat and nothing could be closer to the truth in terms of the gut microbiome. What you put into your system heavily influences the wellbeing, vigor, diversity, and balance of the gut microbiota. Once you begin to pay attention to what you eat, you have already begun to recover from a leaky gut.
High Intake of Dietary Fiber:
One of the most omitted nutrients; fiber is not just good for weight loss but also reduces the risk of disease. A 2017 study closely related fiber to gut microbes. A proper high-fiber diet quite literally feeds the bacteria helping them flourish. With dietary fiber, good bacteria increase their numbers and gut microbiome diversity and that is what we want. Bacteria build a mucus-like wall on the insides of the intestines, thereby closing the gaps and lessening the chances of rogue particles entering the bloodstream. With fiber, you no longer face troubles like diarrhea or constipation. Vegetarian diets are easier on the digestive system.
Switch out fiber supplements for the real thing as you can get fiber from a variety of sources. The easiest source of fiber is plant-based foods – fruits and vegetables. When possible, eat them raw or just wilted or steamed. Sometimes cooking processes destroy the precious fiber content. Also, a vegetarian diet is considered a balanced rich diet. Some high-fiber foods can be digested but most of them pass through your stomach straight to the intestines. Here, it is broken down by bacteria and used as nutrition. With every meal, try to involve all the food groups.
Here’s a simple guide to help.
|Apples, bananas, oranges, plums, grapefruit
|Avocado, prunes, figs, pomegranate, apricots, and all berries
|Raisins, Peaches, cantaloupe, pears, and pineapples
|Cucumbers, zucchinis, pumpkin, peas, beans, red cabbage
|Potatoes, beets, broccoli, collard greens, Swiss chard
|Artichokes, spinach, okra, parsley, parsnips, asparagus, garlic
|Almonds, macadamia nuts
|Peanuts, pecans, Brazil nuts
|Pistachios, cashew nuts, Hazelnuts,
|Chia seeds, buckwheat, oatmeal, millet, cornmeal – grits
|Poppy seeds, bulgar or cracked wheat, teff, brown rice, couscous
|Flax seeds, pearl barley, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta
A healthy gut needs more than fiber. If you do suffer from gut discomforts, chances are that the good gut bacteria are low in numbers. Healthy gut microbes improve digestion, boost immunity and curb weight gain. So, it only makes sense to replenish their numbers. Fermented foods carry a large number of bacteria that will
a) Give you a diverse microbiome and
b) Replenish the gut microbe numbers.
It’s easy to add probiotic foods to your diet (or you can also settle for good probiotic supplements). Not much is needed, just a meal a day and you are good to go.
- Use sauerkraut to top your hotdogs – fermented and therefore good for gut health.
- Kimchi is best to be eaten as a side dish for lunch. The eastern cultures have been using fermented foods for a long time knowing their value.
- A fermented milk drink called Kefir is perfect for a snack and a source of healthy fats too.
- Kombucha is a popular drink now rich in nutritional yeast and bacteria.
- Made from fermented soybean, Tempeh is a plant-based protein that can be used instead of meat.
- Yogurt can be a good addition to breakfast – opt for labels that read “Active & Live Cultures”.
Traditionally, chocolate was seen as a food that could set off the gut symptoms but that is only in the case of milk chocolate – which contains lactose, sugar, and milk. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is beneficial and works towards improving gut health. It promotes the growth of the gut microbiota and provides fuel for them to survive.
Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners:
If you have an unhealthy gut, it probably is because of sugar dependency. Too much sugar can increase blood sugar – diabetes and hurt the gut flora. An increase in the bad bacteria is the reason that there are changes in intestinal permeability. This is what sugar does. Artificial sweeteners or refined sugars are just as bad. They inhibit the growth of the beneficial bacteria causing a digestive system emergency.
The above-mentioned points are just some of the simpler steps you can take toward digestive health. The gut microbiome is sensitive so even the tiniest of changes in a habit would make a difference. Keep in mind that the more varied your diet, the more diverse your microbiome. When you change your diet to restore gut health, there are several other benefits too. In addition to gut health benefits, you will have a healthy digestive tract, physical and mental health, improved blood sugar, better skin, reduced stress levels, and an improved immune function.
Above are the food practices that can help. Now let’s look at some habit changes.
Resetting the Gut with Habits
- Stress Levels: The amount of stress you are exposed to doesn’t really matter. It’s the way you deal with it. A common symptom of stress is ulcers – and ulcers in the stomach result from ailing gut flora. Use meditative methods to calm down. You could also try exercise as physical activity would release pent-up tensions and the release of endorphins promotes a feeling of well-being.
- Sleep: Once stress is dealt with, sleep is the next step. Hurting gut flora would affect the way you are sleeping. Research confirms that the gut microbiome affects circadian rhythms that affect the ability to drift off to sleep. Due to leaky gut symptoms and their influence on the immune system, higher levels of cortisol are released thereby affecting sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to mental health issues and dysbiosis. Metabolic disturbances resulting from sleep loss encourage the growth of certain bacteria that do not help.
- Supplements: This is the way to go when you want swift and sure results. Taking a prebiotic or a probiotic supplement in addition to a gut-healthy diet would quickly heal the gut and replenish the gut bacteria numbers.
1. In making lifestyle choices to naturally improve gut health, Biotics 8 is a thoughtful addition to your regimen. Its comprehensive formula of probiotics and prebiotics acts symbiotically with your body’s natural processes, reinforcing the positive effects of a healthy diet and stress management on your gut microbiome.
2. As women navigate lifestyle modifications for better gut health, integrating Yourbiology Gut+ can provide a personalized boost. This supplement is expertly tailored to complement the intricacies of women’s digestive systems, working in harmony with choices like regular exercise and balanced nutrition to cultivate a thriving gut environment.
Are You Destroying Your Gut Health?
The way you cook your food could also be hurting your gut health. Deep frying, pressure cooking, grilling, overheating, and baking foods could destroy not just nutrients that benefit overall health but could also be destroying fats, sugars, and fiber that are vital for the bacteria in your gut. For vegetables or fruit, eat them washed and raw. It’s the best way to have them. As long as your gut is hurting keep away from red meat – stick to bone broth, soup, white meat, and fatty fish. Again, vegetarian diets are the way to go to help the beneficial bacteria thrive.
A healthy microbiome is a product of diet and lifestyle which we have already discussed and in order to possess a healthy microbiome stay away from processed foods and poor diet for several reasons. The more processed a food is the less healthy it is. Ultra-processed foods contain refines sugars, high levels of refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats. Not to mention, salt in excess and or chemical additives. They lack dietary fiber, proteins, or healthy fats that make a gut healthy. A diet heavy in processed food can lead to intestinal inflammation, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. To improve your gut health, you may have to change your lifestyle but it is so that your overall health improves. Good gut health is a choice that can be made by you. If symptoms persist, it is advised that you see a gut health expert.