You may have heard of the term ‘gut health’ before but what exactly does it mean?
Your gut is home for countless bacteria, and most of them are good for you. Not only do they help us digest food and turn it into nutrients our body can use, they also work all over our body, and can be good for our physical and mental health. Our gut usually has its way of balancing good and bad bacteria. When an imbalance takes place, especially when a particular bad bacteria takes over, that is when a problem takes place. For example, the overpopulation of a particular bad bacteria increases one’s likelihood to have conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis. There are kinds that are linked to cholesterol build up and chronic kidney disease.
A good balance of bacteria, or microbes, in the gastrointestinal tract helps the body obtain energy from food, fight viruses, get rid of toxins, and produce mood-boosting chemicals.
Signs of poor gut health are:
Autoimmune problems - thyroid issues, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes
Digestive issues- irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn or bloating
Fatigue or sleep issues - difficulty sleeping and unexplained sluggishness
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Unexplained mood swings
How do we improve gut health?
Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics. Antibiotics can reduce both good and bad bacteria in the body.
Eat natural sources of probiotics- Plain yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi contain helpful bacteria from the fermentation process.
Cut back on processed foods and sugar. It has been established that preservatives and additives do not do our health good. These along with added sugar reduce good bacteria in our gut, only causing us to crave more sugar and further damaging our gut health.
Eat prebiotics. Prebiotics are “food” for good bacteria, like high-fiber vegetables, fruits and whole grains and help the body produce more good bacteria.