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The Beginner’s Guide to Gut Health

 What is the gut?

The gut is the digestive system of the body, which breaks down food into nutrients that provide energy to your body. The gut is a group of organs that include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. So if any part of this system gets unhealthy, the whole system gets upset. So, if your gut is healthy, it can help to keep the rest of the body healthy.

How does the gut impact the overall health?

The gut has a significant impact on our health. An unhealthy gut can cause numerous, surprising health issues. Some can be identified directly as the result of an unhealthy gut, while other conditions seem totally unrelated to the gut. Let’s have a look at some of the more overt problems caused by an unhealthy gut.

Stomach upset

An upset stomach is a common issue that is caused by an unhealthy gut. How does a stomach react to an unhealthy gut? Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Reflux
  • Gas
  • Stomach aches
  • Diarrhea

If your gut isn’t healthy, you may be facing some of these maladies if not all of them. You may find it difficult to digest food. The whole process of digestion and elimination of waste becomes complicated. Individuals who have a healthy gut have a normal digestive experience. They can digest food easily, and they don’t experience constipation. They have better metabolism as well. People who are constipated may lose appetite as well because they feel bloated.

Sugar cravings

If you eat processed foods, you may be experiencing these cravings. Processed food in your diet can decrease the good bacteria present in the gut. The deficiency of good bacteria in the gut is often caused by the added sugars which are present in processed food. The resulting increased sugar cravings can lead to obesity.

Consuming lots of refined sugar can also physically damage the gut. Certain sugars, especially high-fructose corn syrup, are known to directly increase inflammation in the body. This can cause conditions ranging from ulcers in the stomach to high blood pressure to heart attacks.

Weight Gain

An unhealthy gut can cause you to gain weight. You may find that you continue to gain weight without changing anything in your diet or exercise regimen. The culprit behind the weight gain is the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar, absorb nutrients, and store fat due to an unhealthy gut.

Disturbed sleep cycle

Believe it or not, your gut can be the cause of your insomnia.
Either people experience sleeplessness or disturbed sleep. A disturbed sleep cycle can lead to chronic fatigue. The gut is the primary producer of a hormone known as serotonin which affects the sleep cycle and can cause mood swings.

Insomnia has different effects on different people. Some experience loss of appetite due to lack of sleep. Whereas, others tend to eat more, especially junk food which results in weight gain. In both cases, the body experiences weight fluctuation, which is not good for the overall health.

Skin issues

Skin issues can also be related to the gut. Billions of bacteria are housed in the gut and can affect the condition of your skin. The good bacteria contribute to healthy-looking skin and can prevent skin conditions like acne, dryness, and eczema. The bad bacteria make can cause your skin to break out and cause common skin issues like acne and eczema.

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune disease is a condition where the immune system of the body attacks itself. Many pieces of research have concluded that an unhealthy gut causes systematic inflammation, which causes the immune system to go into overdrive. Patients with autoimmune diseases have been successfully treated for their autoimmune disease by targeting gut health.

Food intolerances

An unhealthy gut can also cause various food intolerances. An intolerance is not a food allergy. It’s just that the digestive system finds it difficult to break down the food and digest it. As a result, you can experience, reflux, burning sensations, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.

Some ways to restore gut health

It takes effort. Mostly, there needs to be a lifestyle change. Some of the points below can help you to heal your gut and live a healthier life.

Eliminate junk food

To have a healthy gut, the first thing you have to do is to cut out fried and junk food. No matter how much you love to eat these things, they cause trouble for your gut. You should not put your gut in distress which can further disturb the whole functioning of your body. The food items to be avoided are:

  • Soft drinks, both diet and regular
  • All sorts of fried food
  • Junk food
  • Processed foods
  • Food items with a high amount of sugar

If any other food items trigger gastrointestinal issues in your body, you should eliminate them from your diet as well.

Watch what you drink

Drink as much water as you can. Try to avoid alcohol as it can affect gut health significantly. Even if you want to consume alcohol, try not to drink too much. Also, try to avoid juices that can cause your gut to react. Packaged juices contain high amounts of sugar and should be avoided.

Eat plenty of vegetables

Vegetables are the healthiest form of food which you should eat. They are full of nutrients and fiber which your gut needs the most to operate normally. By including vegetables in your diet, you will give space to your gut to breathe and to perform normally. You shouldn’t face any gastrointestinal issues as vegetables do not contain preservatives or high amounts of sugar.

Add fiber to your diet

Fiber is extremely important for digestion. It helps in easing constipation and by softening the waste in our body. It helps in keeping the bowel movements regular. Vegetables are a good source of fiber, but you can get fiber from fruits, grains, and legumes as well. A plant-based diet is healthier for the gut. That is the reason why many doctors recommend people to introduce fiber to their diet through natural sources.

Take prebiotic or probiotic-rich foods

Prebiotic and probiotic supplements are what comes to our mind when we think of ways to improve gut health. The better way to accomplish this is to introduce foods in our diet that are rich in prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are essentially non-digestible fiber. This fiber is an important source of food for the healthy bacteria present in our gut. Some prebiotic-rich foods are:

  • Onions
  • Wheat bran
  • Oatmeal
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Barley

Probiotics are living organisms that are found in certain food items. These living organisms are also known as good bacteria that help in fighting against bad bacteria. Probiotics do not let the harmful bacteria make a space in the gut; hence it is vital for a healthy gut. A few food items that contain probiotics are:

  • Yogurt
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Sourdough bread
  • Miso

There are supplements for prebiotics and probiotics. If you don’t want to introduce these food items to your diet, you can talk to your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will recommend a supplement according to your health issues.

Reduce stress

High levels of stress can take a toll on your body. To help your gut function properly, you have to reduce the stress. Some ways to control stress include:

  • Meditation
  • Walking
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Massages
  • Diffusing essential oil
  • Listening to therapeutic music
  • Spending quality time with family and friends

Final Thoughts

Taking care of our health should be a priority. There are minimal issues that can lead us to more significant issues. Never ignore the symptoms your body is showing for any issue. It’s always better to address the symptoms and identify the issue well in time so that you can save yourself from trouble.

The gut has a huge impact on the overall health of the human body, and all body functions depend on it. It ensures a strong immune system, proper sleep, active digestive system, and mental health. A healthy gut can prevent your body from having chronic diseases like autoimmune diseases or even cancer.

A positive change in your lifestyle can do wonders for your health. With the changes we have suggested to you in this article; you can improve your health and make your life better. You may see a positive change in your weight. These changes are going to uplift your mood and will make you feel good about your body overall. A little effort from your part is required to make your life healthy. Once you do it, your body will be thankful to you.

 

Written by:

M junaid qureshi

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