Your gut is responsible for a lot more than just digestion – it also plays a major role in your overall health. When your gut isn’t working properly, it can lead to all sorts of problems, such as inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and even mental health issues.
Signs Your Gut Health Is in Trouble
You know that feeling you get when something just isn’t right? When everything feels a little out of balance and all you can do is wait for it to pass?
Well, that’s your gut health telling you that there’s something wrong. And if you’re not careful, those problems can quickly turn into bigger, more serious issues.
So how do you know when your gut health is in trouble? Here are four signs to watch out for.
- You’re always bloated or gassy.
- You have regular stomach aches or cramps.
- And you suffer from irregular bowel movements or constipation/diarrhea.
- You have skin problems like acne, eczema, or rosacea.
What Causes Poor Gut Health?
There are many possible causes of poor gut health, from diet and lifestyle choices to infections and medications.
Understanding the causes of gut problems is the first step in finding relief and restoring good gut health. Here are some of the most common causes of poor gut health.
1) Eating a lot of processed and sugary foods.
Processed foods are one of the worst offenders when it comes to gut health. They’re full of additives, preservatives, and other chemicals that can upset the delicate balance of your gut flora.
Eating too much sugar can also feed the bad bacteria in your gut and lead to inflammation.
2) Not getting enough fiber.
Fiber is essential for good gut health. It helps keep things moving along smoothly and prevents constipation. Fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which are important for maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora.
If you’re not getting enough fiber, you may be at risk for digestive problems like constipation, hemorrhoids, and even small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
3) Eating too much sugar.
Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut and can cause them to overgrow. This can lead to digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas. It can also contribute to inflammation throughout your body.
Limit your sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day from all sources (including natural sweeteners like honey).
4) Not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is important for gut health. It helps reduce inflammation and balances the immune system.
Not getting enough sleep can make you more susceptible to gut problems like SIBO and IBS.
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.
If you have trouble sleeping, try taking a bath before bed, reading a book, or drinking chamomile tea.
5) Not managing stress.
Chronic stress can contribute to gut problems like SIBO, IBS, and leaky gut. It can also make existing gut problems worse.
There are a few things you can do to manage stress:
- Exercise regularly
- Practice yoga or meditation
- Spend time in nature
- Get a massage
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
If you’re struggling to manage stress, talk to your doctor or a therapist. They can help you find ways to cope with stress that work for you.
How to Heal Your Gut?
According to the National Institute of Health, 65 percent of Americans suffer from some sort of gut imbalance.
But don’t worry, there are ways to heal your gut and restore balance. Here are five tips to help get you started.
1) Follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
This means avoiding processed foods, sugar, and refined carbs. Instead, focus on eating plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, and quality protein.
There are a few specific diets that can be helpful for gut health:
- The Mediterranean diet is an anti-inflammatory diet that’s rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and fish.
- The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a strict diet that eliminates many common triggers of gut issues.
- And the GAPS diet is a nutrient-dense diet that’s designed to heal the gut. It eliminates foods that can damage the gut lining and promotes healing foods like bone broth and fermented vegetables.
- The Paleo diet is also an anti-inflammatory diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods.
If you’re not sure which diet is right for you, talk to a registered dietitian or your doctor. They can help you figure out which foods to eat and which to avoid.
2) Eat fiber-rich foods.
Fiber is a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Aim for 25-38 grams of fiber per day.
Good sources of fiber include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Make sure to eat a variety of different fibers to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
And if you’re having trouble getting enough fiber from food, you can also take a supplement.
Just be sure to talk to your doctor first.
3) Add one prebiotic and one probiotic food to your diet each day.
Prebiotic foods feed the good bacteria in your gut, while probiotic foods contain live, beneficial bacteria.
Some good prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, bananas, and asparagus.
Probiotic sources include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso.
You can also take probiotic supplements if you want.
Just make sure they contain live, active cultures.
4) Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
This one might seem a little strange, but it’s important nonetheless.
When you eat quickly, you tend to swallow air along with your food.
And that air can end up in your gut, causing bloating and discomfort.
Chewing your food thoroughly also helps break down the nutrients so they’re easier for your body to absorb.
So take your time when you eat and savor every bite.
5) Take regular exercise.
Exercise is important for gut health.
It helps move things along and prevents constipation.
It also reduces stress, which can trigger digestive problems.
So make sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
You don’t have to go to the gym or anything like that.
Just a brisk walk will do.
6) Get enough sleep.
Your gut needs time to heal and repair itself.
And that can only happen when you’re asleep.
So make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
7) Take care of your mental health.
Your gut health is closely linked to your mental health.
If you’re constantly stressed or anxious, it will take a toll on your gut.
So make sure to manage your stress levels and get help if you’re feeling depressed or anxious.
These are just some of the things you can do to heal your gut and improve your health.
If you’re struggling with gut health issues, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to come up with a plan that’s right for you.
And that’s it! Just by making these simple changes, you can start to see a big difference in your gut health. Give it time and be patient!