The way to improving gut health is by correcting the gut microbiome. The incredible complexity of the gut and its importance to our overall health is a topic of increasing research. Numerous studies demonstrate the links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health like anxiety and depression,  hormonal disorders, autoimmunity disease, skin conditions, and cancer. 

What is the gut microbiome?

The term “gut microbiome” refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines. A person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While some bacteria are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial to our mental and physical wellbeing.

Many facets of our lives as high stress levels, too little sleep, eating processed and high-sugar foods, and taking antibiotics  and the oral contraceptive pill can damage our gut microbiome. This affects many areas, such as the brain, heart, immune system, skin, weight, hormones, ability to absorb nutrients and certain cancers.

Signs of an unhealthy gut

1. Digestive problems.

Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, burping, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. 

2. Sugar cravings

A diet high in processed food and sugars can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which can damage your gut still further. High refined sugar leads to inflammation in the gut which leads to gut imbalances.

3. Weight gain.

Gaining or losing weight without making changes to your diet or exercise habits may be a sign of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat.  Research links  healthy gut microbiome with weight loss.

4. Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue

An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep, and therefore lead to fatigue. The majority of the body’s serotonin (“happy hormones”)is made in the gut. Serotonin affects mood and sleep, so unbalanced gut flora affects emotions and sleep.

5. Skin problems

When the gut lining is damaged, this is known as “leaky gut”, where Inflammation in the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins into the body, which can in turn  cause conditions such as eczema and acne.

6. Autoimmune conditions

It’s thought that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system. This can lead to autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself .

7. Food intolerances

Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods (this is different than a food allergy, which is caused by an immune system reaction to certain foods). It’s thought that food intolerances may be caused by poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting certain foods and  symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. 

Tips for improving gut health

1. Lower your stress levels 

Chronic high levels of stress damage the gut and overall health. Ways to lower stress include meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, exercise, listening to music.

2. Get enough sleep

Not getting enough or sufficient quality of sleep can have serious impacts on your gut health. Try to prioritize getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.  Magnesium is a great mineral for calming the immune system and helping with sleep. Keep caffeine to a minimum especially after 4pm.

3. Eat slowly

Chewing your food slowly will promote healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients which can reduce digestive discomfort.

4. Hydrate

Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. 

5. Take a prebiotic or probiotic

Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet may be a great way to improve your gut health, by providing beneficial bacteria. best health benefit. Not all probiotics are equal, so it’s best to check with your health professional which would best suit you.

6. Check for food intolerances

If you have symptoms such as cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux, you may be suffering from a food intolerance. You can try eliminating common trigger foods to see if your symptoms improve.  There are tests that help isolate food sensitivities.

7. Dietary changes. Reducing the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods can contribute to better gut health. Eating plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein can positively impact your gut. A diet high in fibre has been shown to contribute to a healthy microbiome.

Foods for improving gut health

Fibre – Having insoluble and soluble fibre daily is important for maintaining good gut health  

Soluble fibre found in foods such as oats and psyllium husks is not only a prebiotic it can also help keep you fuller for longer and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. 

Insoluble fibre found in whole grains and vegetables moves through the gastrointestinal tract intact and speeds up the passage of food and waste in your gut, which will prevent constipation.

Prebiotics help feed the good bacteria in your gut such as onions, leeks, oats, legumes like chick peas and lentils and Jerusalem artichokes.

Bitter herbs such as gentian and dandelion stimulate digestion. 

Teas like chamomile, ginger and peppermint are soothing to the digestive system.

If you want to talk about your gut issues and get some clarity give us a call