We all have experienced stomach bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn at some point. So, often we attribute unhealthy eating habits to be the only reason that causes stomach disturbances. But the truth is many factors are responsible for affecting our gut.
What is gut health?
The gut microbiome refers mainly to the microorganisms living in our intestines. In fact, a person has three to five hundred different species of bacteria in their digestive tracts. To have good gut health, you need to have a balance between the good(helpful) and bad( potentially harmful) bacteria and yeast in your digestive system. Moreover, 80 per cent of our immune system is in the gut, along with a majority of our body’s serotonin.
The gut is the foundation for a person’s healthy well-being as it helps in the digestion of food, absorbs nutrients, and uses them to maintain the body. Therefore, if the gut becomes imbalanced and the immune system stops working correctly, it will affect the serotonin and hormones level. Also, the body gets rid of the toxins, metabolic waste and toxins in the gut, but if you have an unhealthy gut, the body will struggle to eliminate toxins. As a result, many other additional issues can occur, such as chronic fatigue, chronic illnesses, and inflammation.
So, the next time you suffer from constant stomach disturbances, remember these significant points. Also, the brain is called the second gut; hence, if your gut has issues, it will inadvertently affect your brain.
What affects gut health?
Several factors contribute to poor gut health; some of the most common ones are listed down:
Stress increases intestinal permeability or leaky gut; it also affects digestion. Furthermore, the emptying of the stomach is delayed, which can lead to stomachache, heartburn and nausea. Simultaneously, stress causes increased motor function in the large intestine, which can cause bowel urgency or diarrhoea.
Eating processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods harm the beneficial bacteria in your gut and contribute to inflammation of the body and bowel disorders.
Long term use of antibiotics and antacids
Antibiotics and antacids decrease B12 within the gut, essential for cell production, brain function and energy. However, it is noteworthy to mention that we need to take these medications after consulting with the doctors.
How to improve the gut health
Lower stress levels
Managing your stress is perhaps the most common advice you have heard, but it is significant as chronic high levels of stress are detrimental for your whole body, including your gut. Hence, aiming for work-life balance should be your priority and finding ways to reduce stress in your life. Some methods include meditation, taking a walk, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, diffusing essential oils, decreasing caffeine intake, laughing, yoga, or having a pet.
Get enough sleep
Our bodies need eight hours of sleep to rejuvenate and replenish the spent energy. If you don’t have sufficient sleep, it will severely impact your gut health.
Check for food intolerances.
Sometimes people suffer from cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux after eating a particular food. If you face the same issues, you need to identify and eliminate those foods that trigger these symptoms in you. For instance, milk and dairy products cause stomach disturbances for many people; hence, changing eating habits can improve digestive health.
Add probiotic and prebiotic food to your diet.
Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and probiotics are live good bacteria. You can have foods naturally rich in probiotics and prebiotics such as legumes, beans, peas, berries, asparagus, bananas, etc. However, people who have SIBO( Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) should avoid probiotics. Also, not all probiotic supplements are high quality, so you should consume natural food.
Change your diet
If you start your daily morning with a doughnut and throughout the day consume sugary drinks, you might want to make some changes in your diet. In addition, eat plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein to impact your gut.
Four types of food for a healthy gut
High fibre foods
Legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, and leeks have positively impacted gut health.
Garlic and onion
Garlic and onion may have some anti-cancer and immune system-enhancing properties based on various studies, which are closely tied to some of the primary functions of the gut.
Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, tempeh, miso, and kefir are good sources of probiotics. These foods help restore the balance of bacteria in the gut and support digestive health.
Collagen boosting foods
Try adding collagen-rich food to your diets, such as bone broth, chicken, fish.
They benefit the gut and overall health of the body as it contains large amounts of amino acids glycine, glutamine and proline, which helps the intestinal tract and stomach.