Welcome to the complete guide to improving your gut health. If you’re here to learn all about improving gut health, recognizing signs of an unhealthy gut, and the importance that gut health plays in your well-being, you’ve come to the right spot.
Here at GR8NESS, we’re dedicated to covering all things gut-related, since it plays such an essential role in virtually every aspect of our lives. Many of your everyday ailments may be related to gut health and have the potential to be solved by identifying the signs of an unhealthy gut and making positive lifestyle changes.
Before you get started, find out how much you know about gut health.
Gut Health 101
Gut health is essential for virtually every bodily system and function to operate at optimum performance. From your immune system to sleep patterns, digestion to brain health, your gut microbiome affects it all.
It has come to be one of the most popular medical studies in recent years, as researchers gain more insight into the importance of the gut microbiome. Advances in technology have provided experts with the ability to examine the microorganisms more closely, observing their actions in the body.
Previously referred to as the “forgotten organ,” the gut has come to be front and center. And for a good reason.
The Gut Microbiome
When discussing gut health, the main topic of discussion is focused on the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is comprised of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms. They have come to be known as the gut flora, or microbiota. The terms are often used interchangeably, but all refer back to the same thing. Gut health.
The Role of Good Bacteria in Gut Health
The gut microbiome is ideally full of good bacteria. These bacteria play a crucial role in aiding our immune system and fending off infection. There are more than 1,000 different species of bacteria that live in the gut microbiome. Every person’s gut microbiota is unique, just like a fingerprint.
These good bacteria have several vital functions. They defend against pathogens that cause illness, stop your immune system from attacking healthy cells, and help absorb nutrients your body needs to work correctly.
Additionally, the microbiota that is essential for gut health also maintains your metabolic rate and communicates with your brain and central nervous system.
What Happens When Bad Bacteria Enter the Gut Microbiome
While a certain number of harmful bacteria are always present in your gut, the good bacteria are usually able to fight them off and keep your body in check. When harmful bacteria start to take over these good bacteria, you develop symptoms of an unhealthy gut. You may experience a wide range of unfavorable symptoms, such as poor digestion, poor sleep, changes in weight, lowered mood, decreased sex drive, and more.
The official name for this imbalance in your gut microbiota is dysbiosis. The condition can be caused by overexposure to antibiotics, stress, and poor diet or food intolerance. The good news is that if you do suffer symptoms of dysbiosis, there are ways to improve your gut health and start feeling better.
Symptoms of an Unhealthy Gut
It’s usually relatively easy to tell when you’re suffering from an unhealthy gut as soon as you know what the symptoms are. If you scroll through the checklist below and start to notice you have any signs of an unhealthy gut, it may be time to speak to a doctor or make some lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of an unhealthy gut or dysbiosis include:
- Gas and bloating
- Frequent stomach aches or indigestion
- Frequent acid reflux
- Sudden changes in weight
- Skin irritation and rashes
- Insomnia or excessive fatigue
- Frequent illness
- Food intolerances or sensitivities
- Acne or skin breakouts
- Chronic bad breath
- Sugar cravings
- Changes in mood, depression, and anxiety
- Irritability or difficulty concentrating
- Aches and pains
How to Improve Your Gut Health
If you recognize the symptoms above, you may be struggling with an unhealthy gut. Since so many of our body’s essential functions depend on having a healthy gut, you must take steps to improve your gut microbiome and boost those good bacteria. Here are some simple and inexpensive ways that you can do this right at home.
Lower Your Stress Levels
We know that our bodies have lots of weird reactions to stress, and one of them can be an unhealthy gut. It’s reported that stress can affect gut health in several ways, due to the hormones and brain chemicals that are released in response to the feeling. Stress can cause diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and more.
Additionally, stress often causes people to either overindulge or suffer a loss of appetite, which can lead to an unhealthy gut. Furthermore, people are more likely to consume alcohol when under stress.
To avoid the symptoms of an unhealthy gut, find ways to lower your stress levels. Start using breathing techniques that are shown to reduce stress, or find other healthy ways to cope with stress.
Improve Your Sleep Habits
Improving your sleep habits may be tricky since poor sleep can be the result of an unhealthy gut. And since stress can negatively impact rest, which can lead to an unhealthy gut, it seems to be a cycle. Your gut plays a critical role in the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
One study showed that those who got a better night’s sleep had healthier gut microbiomes than those who slept poorly. So, how can you improve your sleep? Try these bedroom hacks for better sleep or these yoga poses that help promotes healthy sleep to help maintain a healthy gut.
Hydration is an essential factor of gut health, as it helps improve digestion and has a positive impact on the mucosal lining of your intestines. As your intestines house your gut microbiota, this is crucial. Drinking water can help promote the balance of good bacteria in your gut. You can also eat more foods for gut health that have high water content, such as fresh fruits and vegetables like cucumbers.
If you need some help, check out these ways to remind yourself to drink more water.
Avoid Unnecessary Antibiotics
Antibiotics wreak havoc on your gut health. You’ve probably noticed the side effects before. Diarrhea and nausea are two of the most common. Antibiotics kill off those good bacteria your gut health needs to stay balanced. Furthermore, extended exposure to the medication can impede your immune system, making it more difficult to fight off simple infections.
We know it may seem like no matter what health issue you have, the doctor says to exercise more, but exercise is a GR8 way to help you have a healthy gut. Dysbiosis, or an unhealthy gut, has been linked to a lack of exercise. Getting your body in motion can help balance the good bacteria your gut health needs with the bad bacteria it doesn’t.
Consuming too much sugar prevents the growth of good bacteria in your gut. When good bacteria in your gut fail to grow, the harmful bacteria that cause an unhealthy gut have the prime opportunity to take over. If you’re looking to promote good gut health, sugar is one food to avoid.
Smoking is linked to many conditions associated with an unhealthy gut. It’s shown to increase the risk of developing Crohn’s disease and the risk of developing colon cancer. Additionally, smoking triggers an immune response in your body that can affect the balance of your gut microbiota. Remember, a healthy gut and a healthy immune system are interdependent on one another.
Foods To Improve Gut Health
One of the easiest ways to improve your gut health, or fight off an unhealthy gut, is to consume the right foods. Foods that promote proper digestion contain antioxidants and are high in nutrients. Best of all, this method of promoting a healthy gut is all-natural. No medication or doctor’s appointments necessary.
Foods that promote a healthy gut include:
- Fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut
- Foods that are rich in probiotics and prebiotic fiber, such as asparagus, bananas, chicory, garlic, and onions
- Foods that are naturally rich in probiotics
- Spices that aid in healthy digestion
- Juices that promote healthy digestion
- These gut health-boosting gummies
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets for Gut Health
Studies have shown that both vegetarian and vegan diets may have a positive impact on gut health. Plant-based diets may promote diversification of gut microbiota. Additionally, they may lead to an increased level of natural key prebiotics and probiotics in the gut.
The Role of Prebiotics and Probiotics in Gut Health
Both prebiotics and probiotics are essential to gut health. While most people have heard of probiotics, you may not be familiar with prebiotics or how they help prevent an unhealthy gut. While many foods are rich in probiotics, there are lots of supplements out there, as well.
If you’re looking for a solution that’s tailored just for you, try precision probiotics, which are developed based on a medical analysis of your gut health. Since each person’s gut microbiome is unique, they may provide better results than simple over-the-counter-solutions.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are indigestible dietary fibers. How does this help gut health, though, if the entire point is to promote proper digestion? Prebiotics serve as a food source for probiotics and the good bacteria present in your gut. The fiber in probiotics is fermented in the intestines. It helps fight off the bad bacteria that lead to an unhealthy gut.
Natural sources of prebiotics include:
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live organisms that help the good bacteria grow in your gut. They are comprised of bacteria and yeast, and the most common types are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces Boulardii.
Once probiotics have an abundant source of food to thrive, such as prebiotics, they significantly improve gut health. It’s recommended that prebiotics and probiotics be taken together. The process of using the two “biotics” at the same time is known as microbiome therapy, and it can also significantly help your immune system.
The Bottom Line on How to Improve Gut Health
If you’ve recognized the symptoms of an unhealthy gut and are looking to make positive lifestyle changes for good gut health, so much information may seem overwhelming. However, it can be broken down into several simple steps to follow.
- Stay away from foods and beverages that contribute to an unhealthy gut, like sugar and alcohol
- Consume foods that are natural sources of prebiotics and probiotics
- Drink lots of water
- Get plenty of sleep
If you follow these essential tips, you’ll be well on your way to having a healthy gut. But remember, this won’t happen overnight. Improving gut health is a process, and ultimately a lifestyle. Implementing healthy habits for a short period, and then reverting back to an unhealthy lifestyle, will lead you right back to having an unhealthy gut.
It’s said that changing the makeup of your gut microbiome for GR8 gut health can take up to six months, though many people will start to see an improvement of symptoms within a few weeks. The most important thing is that you stick to your new regimen to see the best results for improved gut health.
If there’s anything that you’d like to know about gut health, let us know here.