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Take Proactive Steps for a Healthy Gut and Promote a Healthy Life

Updated on July 15, 2023

What is gut health?

Gut health refers to the condition of the digestive tract, which begins from the mouth, through the oesophagus to the bowel.

This system is responsible for breaking down food into the specific elements that our bodies use to function, such as nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

why gut health is importnat

The gut serves as a host to billions of microorganisms; both beneficial and harmful that are crucial for digestion, immune regulation, and protection against infectious agents. These microbes collectively make up the gut microbiome and it is important to maintain a good balance of the gut microbiome.

What causes bad gut health?

Maintaining a healthy gut is very crucial for your overall health and well-being.

However, there are many factors such as diet, lifestyle, and environment that can negatively influence your gut microbiome.

what causes bad gut health

When there is an imbalance between your gut’s microbiota (good bacteria and bad bacteria), it is referred to as dysbiosis.

Some actions that can cause harm to your gut health include:

    1. Limited Food Diversity

A healthy gut flora is typically thought to be one that is abundant and diversified (Heiman & Greenway, 2016).

Your vulnerability to the negative effects of infections and drugs increases when your gut flora is not diverse (Claesson et al., 2012).

Enriching your diet with a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has the potential of making your gut flora diverse.

Research has shown that it takes just a few days to cause an alteration in your gut flora by changing your diet (Heiman & Greenway, 2016; David et al., 2013; Sonnenburg et al., 2016).

Lack of diversity in the gut flora can therefore be caused by a diet that excludes a wide range of complete foods. Numerous harmful health repercussions could result from this.

    1. Lack of prebiotic-rich foods in our diet

Prebiotics are fiber-rich foods that pass through the gut system undigested and promote the growth and function of the gut microbiome (Gibson et al., 2017).

Examples of foods that are high in prebiotics include onions, asparagus, nuts, oats, garlic, banana, leeks, lentils, chickpeas, and beans.

    1. Use of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are prescription drugs used to treat bacterial infections and disorders like urinary tract infections (UTIs). Despite their advantages in the treatment of diseases, both healthy and harmful bacteria are negatively impacted by them. Antibiotic use frequently results in detrimental changes to the variety and composition of the gut microbiota, even when administered for a short time (Sullivan et al., 2001; Huse et al., 2008).

    1. Stress

It has been established that prolonged stress is bad for the body. It is no surprise that stress also has the power to alter the gut's microbiome by increasing sensitivity, reducing blood flow, and causing dysbiosis (Bhatia & Tandon, 2005).

    1. Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to dysbiosis within the gut microbiota.

According to Mutlu et al. (2012), dysbiosis has been linked to alcoholic populations compared to individuals who consumed little-to-no alcohol.

On the other hand, polyphenol-based drinks such as red wine consumed in moderation are known to improve gut health (Queipo-Ortuño et al., 2012).

    1. Lack of Good Sleep

Your gut bacteria may get harmed if your biological clock is thrown off by lack of sleep, shift work, and late-night eating (Polidarová et al., 2011).

    1. Smoking

Smoking is harmful to almost every organ in the body.

Compared to non-smokers, smokers are twice as likely to suffer from Crohn's disease, a prevalent form of inflammatory bowel illness (Calkins, 1989).

Quitting smoking can increase the variety of gut flora, which in turn can enhance gut health.

Signs of a bad gut health

Noticeable symptoms of an unhealthy gut may include:

  1. Stomach disturbances

  2. These could include diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, gas, and to some extent, heartburn.
  3. Food intolerances

  4. These are caused by difficulty in digesting certain foods in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
  5. Skin irritation

  6. Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota can result in misregulation of the immune system thereby leading to conditions that affect certain tissues like the skin. An example is psoriasis.
  7. Unintentional changes in body weight

  8. Your body's ability to absorb nutrients, control blood sugar, and store fat can all be hampered by an unhealthy gut.

How to improve your gut health?

how to improve gut health with your diet

By altering your lifestyle and nutrition, you can greatly enhance your gut microbiota composition. Among the methods are:

  1. Avoid eating in haste

  2. Eating slowly and ensuring proper chewing of food particles before swallowing may help to reduce indigestion and maintain a healthy gut.
  3. Drink enough clean water

  4. Being hydrated prevents constipation and prevents dysbiosis within the gut microbiome.
  5. Eat more plant-based foods

  6. Vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains are examples of plant-based foods that the gut microbiome needs for optimal balance and performance.
  7. Add a prebiotic or probiotic to your diet

  8. Probiotics are live helpful bacteria, whereas prebiotics provide "food" to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods, such as kvass and kefir, are a great source of diverse probiotic bacteria.
  9. Consume more polyphenol-based foods

  10. Plant chemicals called polyphenols are metabolised by intestinal microbes after evading digestion. Foods that contain polyphenols tend to improve gut health. Some good sources of polyphenols include red wine, green tea, dark chocolate, and blueberries.
  11. Physical activity

  12. Simply put, physical exercise is any kind of body action that uses up energy. Examples include brisk walking, gardening, cycling, and swimming.

Aside from the benefit of weight loss, decrease stress levels, and decrease risk of chronic diseases (Booth et al., 2012; Meyer et al., 2016), physical activity can also alter gut microbiota thereby improving gut health (Monda et al., 2017).

Conclusion

All things considered, the gut is an essential system that plays a role in digestion, nutritional absorption, immunological function, and potential interactions with the brain.

Your gut bacteria can be harmed by dietary and lifestyle choices, such as inactivity, drinking, smoking, and poor sleep.

The best method to ensure a healthy gut flora is to have a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, little stress, and a variety of good meals.

With our busy lifestyles having a perfectly balanced diet is difficult. Regular consumption of fermented foods could help to offset an incomplete diet and top up your gut with beneficial microbes.

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