The body’s gut influences a number of physiological processes ranging from the function of the digestive system to the appearance of your skin. Without a properly functioning gut microbiome, you put yourself at risk of developing a variety of issues. What you may be blowing off as normal aches, pains and inconveniences could actually be symptoms of an unhealthy gut.
Here is what you need to know about gut health, how to identify when things are not working as they should and what you can do to rectify the problem going forward.
Understanding the Gut and Its Importance to Overall Health
Your gut is defined as the entirety of the digestive tract that extends from the esophagus all the way to the rectum. While most people associate the gut with only digestive function, this system does more than just process food.
The gut acts as another brain in the body, sending important signals that regulate your appetite, mood and more. A healthy gut includes the right balance of good and bad bacteria, collectively known as the microbiome. If the microbiome is disrupted, you may notice the impact in unlikely places.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
There are a number of symptoms to be aware of if you are wondering if your gut is working as nature intended. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of an unhealthy gut to put on your radar.
If you are not sleeping well at night, your gut could be to blame. Because the bulk of the body’s production of serotonin takes places in the gut, it is only natural for disruptions to lead to sleep issues. Even if your sleep patterns are not greatly impacted, you may notice feeling more fatigued if your gut health is not firing on all cylinders.
Mental Health Conditions
A wide body of research has emerged over the last few years linking the health of your gut to your mental health. Known in medical circles as the gut-brain axis, the health of your gut can influence how you feel mentally and emotionally. Individuals with poor gut function are at a higher risk of dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.
Poor Immune Function
Because 70 percent of the immune system takes up residence in the gut, it is no surprise to learn that an unhealthy microbiome can lower your body’s ability to fight off infection and disease.
Recent research has demonstrated a connection between poor bacterial diversity in the gut and acne. A lack of healthy bacteria in the gut may also raise the risk of rosacea, eczema and dry, flaky skin.
There is no end to the digestive issues that you may experience if your gut is not working as it should. Some of the most health common problems that originate in the gut include diarrhea, excessive flatulence, constipation, belching, heartburn and acid reflux.
How to Boost Gut Health
Now that you know what signs to be on the lookout for, it is time to start educating yourself on how you can improve your gut health. Here are a few of the most proven ways to boost the health and function of your gut.
Watch What You Eat
You will naturally enjoy better gut health if you are intentional about eating a varied diet. Focus on whole and unprocessed foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and legumes. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir will also deliver gut-healthy probiotics that aid in the support of a rich microbiome.
Turn to a Supplement
For an extra dose of protection for your gut, consider adding the use of a probiotic and prebiotic supplement to your daily routine. Because it can be challenging to take in enough probiotics by diet alone, a targeted supplement will help to fill in the gaps.
Break a Sweat
Scientists have discovered that exercise can boost the diversity within the microbiome. This happens as sweat and heavy breathing expels the toxins that may disrupt the function of your gut.
As with most physiological functions, staying hydrated is always important. By hydrating the bowel, you will be able to push out unwanted fat and toxins from the body.
Catch Those ZZZs
Not getting the sleep that your body needs each night can significantly impact your gut health, creating a dangerous cycle that is hard to break. You should aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night for an optimal gut microbiome.
As scientists discover more about the gut, it is becoming clearer that it is important to nurture its health. The power of this system cannot be overstated when it comes to supporting your overall health and wellness on numerous levels.