Ever had a gut feeling? Ever experienced butterflies in your stomach? These sensations prove the connection between your gut and your brain.
And this relationship is critical when it comes to your digestion, mood management, energy levels and more.
You may not be currently aware of what your gut is telling you and your body, but that’s all about to change.
Sit back and take a moment to digest (pun intended) all of this information regarding the role of your gut, signs of an unhappy gut and practices to improve your overall gut health.
Role of your Gut
You may think of your gut’s role solely as your digestive tract focused on breaking down and moving food through your body.
While this is not incorrect, your gut has even more capabilities and is a major role in other areas of your health and wellness.
“All disease begins in the gut.” - Hippocrates
Your entire body is comprised of microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) and the majority of them reside in your gut - trillions of them - specifically in your large intestine. The role of these microbes (wholly referred to as your microbiome) include:
- Digesting your food
- Regulating your immune system
- Protecting your body against bad bacteria and disease
- Producing essential vitamins including B, B12 and K
- Communicating with your central nervous system (brain function)
The ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in our gut can impact your health.
Too much bad bacteria can lead to illness, digestive issues, low immunity, low energy, poor skin conditions and so much more.
Which signs may be telling you that your gut health needs more attention?
Signs of Poor Gut Health
For optimal health, you need an abundance of good bacteria to push out and rid your body of bad bacteria. Unfortunately, many factors in your life can cause a shift that increases your bad bacteria and disrupts this ratio. This unhealthy imbalance of bacteria is known as “dysbiosis.”
Dysbiosis can be caused by:
- Lack of fiber intake
- Medications and antibiotics
- Lack of exercise
- High sugar intake
- High processed food intake
Other signs of dysbiosis in your own body can include:
- Upset stomach (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation heartburn, IBS)
- Sleep trouble
- Chronic pain (joint pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Skin irritation/breakouts (eczema, psoriasis, acne)
- Food intolerances
- Depression and anxiety
- Asthma and allergies
Are you surprised that so much of your lifestyle and daily routine can have such an effect on so many areas of your gut, and therefore, your health?
You may be able to look at the above lists and relate to most, and this is not even an exhaustive list of signs and symptoms.
So, mow that you know the great impact of your gut health on your total health, it’s time to start practicing some simple ways to increase your gut’s happiness.
7 Ways to Improve Gut Health
The not so great news? Your gut plays a role in so much of your health and you most likely have overlooked your gut’s critical role in your wellbeing.
The better news? You have some power and control over your gut health and it doesn’t have to require much effort at all.
Here is a list of seven simple and effective ways to improve your gut health:
1. Move your Body Daily
Staying active and working out has shown to increase the variety of gut flora. The greater the variety, the healthier your gut.
Slow, deep breaths signal your parasympathetic nervous system (or relaxation response) to activate. This decreases stress (which is directly correlated to gut health) and also increases blood flow back to your digestive system. Double win.
It is hard to stay stressed when playing with your kids or pets or when indulging in deep belly laughs with your friends. Play more, for the sake of your gut.
4. Sleep 7 to 8 Hours Every Night
Sleeping 7-8 hours not only decreases stress and improves mental clarity, it allows your body enough time to recalibrate and reset. This time is essential for your gut health.
5. Eat Mindfully
Much of our poor gut health can be directly related to what we eat and how we eat. Take time to slow down and chew to assist your digestion. If you notice certain foods that give you heartburn, make you feel bloated or cause other digestive woes - cut back on those foods or eliminate them entirely. Listen to your gut!
6. Eat Fermented Foods
Eating foods that naturally have probiotics (good bacteria) can assist your gut health.
Fermented foods include:
7. Take Probiotics
If you aren’t a fan of the above fermented foods, or simply don’t see yourself consuming them regularly, try using a probiotic supplement to boost your good gut bacteria levels.
Maintaining a healthy gut contributes to your overall health and immune function. Stress, poor diet, lack of movement and overuse of medications can negatively impact the ratio of good vs. bad bacteria in your gut - and therefore, your total wellbeing.
Signs of an unhealthy gut may include digestive issues, fatigue, chronic pain and mental health challenges.
You can improve your gut health in 7 simple ways:
- Move your body daily
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night
- Eat mindfully
- Eat fermented foods
- Take probiotics
If you need more guidance on workouts, yoga, breathing exercises, and healthy recipes, check out the Thrive Guide program.