How a healthy gut impacts your overall health
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are what you eat,” at some point. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, you get several benefits, such as a boosted immune system, stronger bones and a lower risk of heart disease. On the contrary, when you eat unhealthy foods, you are more susceptible to health problems, such as obesity and an increased risk of cancer.
The bottom line is, improving your gut health boosts your health and lowers disease risk.
What is gut health?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, your gut health is all about your gastrointestinal, or digestive tract, the largest organ in your digestive system. The digestive system comprises several connected hollow organs from the mouth to the anus, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.
Whenever you eat or drink, your digestive system breaks it down into nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, etc.) as it works its way down your digestive tract.
These nutrients help fuel your body to keep you alive. The microorganisms, or gut microbiome, in your small and large intestines, are responsible for breaking down and using those absorbed nutrients for your health.
The benefits of gut microbiome
According to a 2019 review from Current Pharmacology Reports, there are several benefits of a healthy gut microbiome.
A healthy, balanced gut microbiome improves overall health by:
- Promoting a robust immune system.
- Maintaining the protective lining of the intestines.
- Improving metabolism and synthesis of essential nutrients.
- Resisting pathogens or organisms that can cause disease.
There’s ongoing research to determine how the gut microbiome affects other body parts, such as the brain, heart, liver and lungs.
Symptoms of poor gut health
If your gut microbiome is out of balance, you can experience mild to serious symptoms that require medical attention.
Common symptoms of an unhealthy gut microbiome include:
- Acid reflux or heartburn.
The Mayo Clinic reported that small intestine bacterial overgrowth arises due to an imbalance in microorganisms. With SIBO, there’s an increase in bacteria not typically found in the small intestine.
The condition often occurs from surgery or disease and can slow down food and waste products traveling through the digestive tract.
Symptoms of SIBO include the following:
- Abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Unpleasant feelings of fullness after eating.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Other GI conditions linked to an unbalanced gut microbiome are:
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Chronic inflammation of digestive tract tissues.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: Similar to inflammatory bowel disease, causing symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating.
- Obesity: Chronic disease caused by abnormal or excessive body fat.
- Type 2 diabetes: A condition affecting the way the body processes blood sugar or glucose.
- Atopy: A predisposition to developing allergic diseases, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention from your health care provider.
How to improve gut health
You’ll need to improve your gut health to lower your risk of GI conditions and feel more healthy inside and out.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, here are some tips for boosting your gut health:
- Eat enough fruits and vegetables: Add a colorful mixture of fruits and vegetables to diversify the healthy microbiome in your digestive tract.
- Include fiber in your diet: It’s recommended that adults consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Fiber regulates bowel movements, lowers cholesterol and maintains blood sugar levels. Foods with high fiber include berries, whole-wheat pasta, chickpeas and lentils.
- Eat fermented foods: Fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha and kimchi bring healthy bacteria into your gut microbiome.
- Lower your stress levels: Engage in self-care practices, such as meditation and journaling, to keep stress levels low.
- Sustain a regular eating schedule: The gut microbiome has a circadian rhythm, so sticking to regular eating times can aid with nutrient metabolism.
- Avoid taking specific medications for extended periods: While it can be challenging to stop certain medications depending on your health, taking over-the-counter acid-reducing agents increase the pH levels in the stomach, affecting the gut microbiome.
- Consider probiotics and prebiotics: In addition to your diet, you can take probiotics and prebiotics supplements to obtain a healthy, balanced gut microbiome.
Best products to improve gut health
This plant-based prebiotic powder mix provides gut bacteria support. It has a clinically proven, tasteless formula containing micro- and macronutrients that are easily absorbable. It is non-GMO, gluten- and sugar-free. It is safe for keto, vegan and paleo diets.
Get your recommended fiber intake with this 200-count of tablets. They deliver over 100 million active bacteria to support your gut health. They don’t have artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. Store the tablets in the fridge to retain the quality of the probiotics.
This tasty smoothie mix aids in digestion, bloating and immunity. Offered in 15, 30 or 60 servings and in several flavors, it includes more than 30 nutrients. It is dairy-, gluten-, and sugar-, soy-free and is non-GMO and vegan.
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Taneia Surles writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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