Stomach aches, diarrhea, gas, acid reflux, constipation oh my! if you have ever phased this kind of situation, you better know how embarrassing digestive issues can be.
Causes of Poor Gut Health
Do you know the reasons for poor gut health? If not, you will be surprised to the reason for this?
- Lack of fiber
- Excessive alcohol
- Excessive antibiotic use
- Food additives
- Pain relievers
- Contaminated food
- Processed meats and other unhealthy foods
- Food allergies/intolerances
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GUT HEALTH PART 1 - PREBIOTICS
Prebiotics and probiotics are different. It's important to understand the distinction between them and their unique role in your body.
Prebiotics are essential to human health. They come from types of carbs, mostly fiber, that you can't digest. They nourish the healthy bacteria in your gut. Yes, the beneficial bacteria in your gut eat this fiber that your body can't digest. It helps your gut bacteria produce nutrients for your colon cells and leads to a healthier digestive system. Your gut is the main element that needs to be balanced and functional in your body. Everything starts off your gut. Your mind, your digestion, your whole body count on the proper function of the gut health. When the bacterias nourish themselves with fibers, they turn it into short-chain fatty acid called butyrate.
- Butyrate has anti-inflammatory effects inside the colon.
- Block growth of cancerous cells
- Provide fuel to healthy cells, so they grow and divide normally
- Improve metabolic rates
- helps digestion to stay fluid and constant
Excellent prebiotics food sources:
- Sweet potato
*Cooking these foods may alter the fiber content, eating raw when possible is a great idea.)
Remember, a balance between prebiotics and probiotics is the key to an optimize gut health.
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GUT HEALTH PART 2 - PROBIOTICS
Probiotics and prebiotics are different on their own, but in synergy, they influence overall health in such a big way. (See the previous post to learn more about prebiotics)
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, essential for human health. They are found in certain foods and supplements; probiotics are live bacteria.
This form of gut bacteria helps stimulate the natural enzymes and processes that make your digestive organs functioning properly.
As an example, after taking antibiotics, you lose a lot of "good" bacteria; Probiotics help to replace them.
These bacteria improve the movement of food through your gut, keeping your digestion well and smooth. It can benefit treat common conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, infectious diarrhea, skin conditions, oral health and preventing colds and allergies.
There is a reason we give importance to the consumption of high-quality plain yogurt (no sugar added). These are packed with live cultures, and it is a tasty addition to your diet to add beneficial bacteria. Fermented foods also contain beneficial bacteria that flourish on the naturally occurring sugar or fiber in the food.
Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea are examples of fermented food. (Make sure they are not pasteurized, this process kills the bacteria)
Some foods are even synbiotics, meaning they are both beneficial bacteria as well as prebiotics sources of fiber, like sauerkraut.
Probiotics supplements exist, but don't contain the same quality and quantity of bacteria. Choose wisely and don't forget to get some from food.
In brief, probiotics are the beneficial bacteria found in food while probiotics are types of fiber that feed those essential bacteria.
A balanced amount of both should improve your health and overall gut flora. Don't miss the next post about gut health and ways to improve it. (gut flora).
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GUT HEALTH PART 3 - IMPROVE IT
Following the previous post, you know that a balanced amount of probiotics and prebiotics help keep an overall healthy gut as well as a great ratio of good and bad bacteria in it.
There are around 40 million bacteria in your body, most of them are in your intestines. Here are some other tips to significantly affect these types of bacteria that live inside you.
Consume a broad range of foods
The more varieties of bacteria you have, the more they can contribute to your health and add different benefits to your gut microbiota.
- Eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, and beans (prebiotics)
- Eat fermented foods (probiotics)
Limits artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners can negatively affect blood sugar levels due to their effects on the gut bacteria.
Include food rich in polyphenols
Polyphenols are plant compounds that provide a variety of health benefits like lowering blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol levels. Your body doesn't digest polyphenols, most make their way to the colon and you gut bacteria digest it. Examples of polyphenols are cocoa, red wine, green tea, almond, onions, blueberries, and others.
Manage your stress
When your body jumps into a stress management mode, it doesn't concentrate its action towards another essential one like digestion. Meaning your digestion can slow down and won't work as proper as it should. When everything works properly and smooth, your body can absorb all the nutrients it absorbs when you are calm and aren’t stressed.
Keeps these tips in mind and you should be able to improve your gut health within a few weeks, at least see some changes.
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RELATION BETWEEN GUT AND MENTAL HEALTH
There is a reason why our gut is also called our second brain. This complex machine is surpassing medicine's understanding of the exact correlation between digestion, mood, health and even your state of mind.
This "little brain" is not so little. It is 2 thin layers composed of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract.
The brain and the gut are intimately linked. The only thought of easting released a digestive stomach enzyme before the foods even get there. This is why it's almost impossible while experiencing functional GI disorder, to heal it, without considering the role of stress/emotion.
Psychosocial factors affect the actual biology of the gut, as well as symptoms. In other words, anxiety/stress (or depression or other psychological factors) can influence movement and contractions of the gastrointestinal tract, make inflammation worse, or perhaps make you more susceptible to infection. The other way around is also true; people with a gut problem such as IBS have much more chance to develop depression and anxiety.
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People experiencing gut problems perceive pain more severely than other people do because their brains do not adequately manage pain signals from the GI tract. Stress can make the existing pain seem even worse.
A review of 13 studies revealed that patients who tried psychologically based approaches had surpassing improvement in their digestive symptoms compared with the ones who received only conventional medical treatment.
Healing your gut and keeping your gut healthy is key in such a stressful world. There are multiple ways to maintain a healthy gut and enhance your life quality. Also, if stress is a factor, reconsidering certain things and applying techniques to reduce it should be a fabulous idea.
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