We are surrounded by thousands of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Some of them living outside our bodies and some of them inside.
A fun fact is, we have more bacteria cells in our body than human cells. Roughly we have about 40 trillion bacteria cells in our body and about 30 trillion human cells, which means you’re more of a bacteria than human.
For those of you living under a rock, the gut (gastrointestinal tract) is the long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the back passage (anus).
So this gut it’s really important. It looks something like this.
When you think of bacteria, you would immediately think “disease”, however, some bacteria are very important for your immune system, heart health, weight, skin, etc
The bacteria that live in your gut is really essential towards your healthy wellbeing. I’m sure you must’ve heard of dieticians raving about gut health and why it’s so important.
The bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live inside our body are microorganisms, also known as microbes.
Millions of these microbes exist mostly inside our intestine and our skin.
Most of these microbes are present in your intestines, specifically in a pocket of your large intestine called the cecum, this is what is known as the gut microbiome.
The gut microbiome affects the body from birth and throughout life by controlling the digestion of food, immune system, central nervous system, and other bodily processes.
The gut microbiome has a major effect on your body throughout your entire life from birth by controlling your digestion, immune system, central nervous system, and other bodily processes.
So, now that you know what a gut microbiome is, what makes it unhealthy?
Our modern life is so busy and so fast, we usually incorporate less sleep, more stress, more processed and high-sugar foods, and take antibiotics that can damage our gut microbiome. Unknowingly, an unhealthy gut might manifest itself, because of what it’s being fed.
You are truly what you eat.
Here are the most common signs of an unhealthy gut:
There are a number of ways an unhealthy gut might manifest itself. Here are six of the most common signs:
- Unintentional Weight Change: When you gain and lose weight without making any changes to your eating or exercising habits might be a sign of an unhealthy gut. This makes your gut imbalanced, and impair your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients.
- Upset Stomach: Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. A healthy gut has lesser difficulty in processing food.
- Skin Irritations: When your gut is unhealthy, it means it’s inflamed. An inflamed gut caused by a poor diet or a food allergy causes leaking of certain proteins out into the body, which can irritate the skin and cause breakouts.
- High-Sugar Intake: Excess sugar can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut. All that sugar you crave is caused because of that imbalance. The more the amount of sugar the more inflammation caused.
- Lack of sleep: Sleep disturbances such as insomnia could be a sign of an unhealthy gut which can further lead to chronic fatigue. Serotonin is a hormone that is in charge of your mood and sleep, and it is produced in the gut. It’s simple, an unhealthy gut produces less serotonin and impairs your ability to sleep.
- Food Intolerances: This occurs when your body faces difficulty in digesting certain foods. These are thought to be caused by the poor quality of bacteria in our gut, which can lead to difficulty in digesting some foods and result in unpleasant symptoms like gas, diarrhea, bloating, and nausea.
Basically, the food we eat is broken down in the gut to a simpler form, such that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and can be delivered as nutrients throughout our bodies.
Think about it this way, our heart also needs nutrients to function, and the gut plays a major role in promoting heart health. However, a healthy heart is only possible with a healthy digestive system.
But hey, what can I do to improve my gut microbiome?
There are several things you can do for your gut health.
Some of them include:
Eat various ranges of foods
What exactly happens when you stick to a particular diet or follow a very restrictive diet, this makes your gut microbiome familiar with all the bacteria that we feed it. Eating a diverse range of foods can lead to diverse microbiome, which indicates good gut health. Foods containing lots of fiber such as legumes, beans, and fruits can promote a healthy gut.
Say No to Artificial Sweeteners
According to scientific research, artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame increases blood sugar by promoting the growth of bad (unhealthy) bacteria in your gut microbiome.
Soda literally increases your blood sugar levels rapidly and affects the pleasure centers of the brain in a similar way as heroin. Skip it, seriously.
Add prebiotic and probiotic foods in your meals
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that helps in the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, prebiotic-rich foods include oats, bananas, asparagus. Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria and yeasts which also keep your gut healthy, probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut.
Always choose whole grains
Whole grains are filled with fibers and bacterial carbs that are often digested by gut bacteria to look out for weight, cancer risk, and diabetes.
A plant-based diet may help reduce levels of disease-causing bacteria such as E.coli, as well as inflammation and cholesterol.
Add some Polyphenols to your diet
I know!! Even I didn’t know what polyphenols were until I read a whole book about it. Polyphenols are plant compounds found in green tea, coffee, dark chocolate, olive oil. According to research, they stimulate healthy bacterial growth.
Only take antibiotics whenever necessary
I’m not telling you to not take your prescribed medicine. Do it if you need to. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria in the gut, and can also lead to antibiotic resistance. These illnesses are usually due to viral infections that do not respond to antibiotics anyway. Always listen to an expert when your symptoms persist for more than 3 days.
These are just a few ways to how you can improve your gut, and your health.
The good news is that our gut microbiome responds quickly to positive healthy habits like diet, exercise, supplementation, and body-mind practices.
Any small changes you make will have a positive effect.
With love and light,