Listen To Your Gut: A Guide To One Of The Body's Most Important Organs
Our bodies are comprised of a plethora of bacteria, fungi and viruses that collectively form the micro-biome. In our micro-biome lies a diversity of bacteria that we need to absorb and nutrients that we need to digest to keep our bodies running.
Unfortunately, Gut health is underrepresented in fitness and overall health and well-being education. This is not an accurate indicator of its vitality at all since it is incredibly necessary for a healthy mind and body.
We are mainly taught about digestion happening in the stomach exclusively; this leaves out the most important part: everything in-between!
Our gut usually refers to the trillions of microbes that live in our intestines...
...there are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in our gut which all play a different role in your body by breaking down specific types of food.
One would have about 300 – 500 different species in their digestive system; it is considered that the more diversity present in a person’s gut micro-biome, the better! In fact, studies show that this can greatly
improve your immune system, improve mental health disorders like depression, combat obesity and numerous other benefits. It is important to note that although most of the bacteria found in our micro-biome is fundamentally important for our health, you will, however, find other bacteria that is considered bad due to its presence causing diseases like autoimmunity.
Fun Fact!: We are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells! There is approximately a 10 trillion difference in cell count.
How do I know if I have an unhealthy gut?
In modern times our lifestyles tends to be quite damaging to our wellbeing; high stress levels, lack of
sleep, processed and high-sugar food, and even taking antibiotics (which have the potential to be very harmful)! This is why it is only recommended to take these prescriptions in case of serious infection, as antibiotics do get rid of the bad bacteria but it also diminishes the good bacteria in the process of the wipe
Here are the most common symptoms of an unhealthy gut:
1. Unintentional Weight Gain/ Loss.
If you experience any form of weight change without making any changes to your diet or exercise this may be a sign of an imbalanced gut micro-biome.
This can impair the functionality of nutrient absorption, blood sugar levels and storage of fat.
2. Constant Tiredness
Insomnia, poor sleep or chronic fatigue becomes more frequent due to lowering levels of serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep which is mainly produced in our gut micro-biome.
So an imbalanced gut tends to increase sleep disturbances and even risk for more serious conditions.
3. Upset Stomach
Irregularities in the stomach like constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn and bloating can all be indicators of an unhealthy micro-biome as a healthier gut would have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste.
This means that if you struggle to eat, enjoy meals or feel uncomfortable after eating a meal: this could be a sign of gut damage.
Luckily, the majority of gut damage that we experience is reversible, but not always so it is important to commit to healthier ways of living for enhanced long-term health. The phrase, “You are what you eat” in essence holds truth more than we like to admit. Changing your diet to more plant-based foods and lean protein can promote a healthier gut micro-biome. If you are accustomed to a limited diet of food you are also limiting the diversity in your gut, which is crucial for optimum bodily function.
These are the tips I have that you can do to improve your gut health today:
1. Get That Beauty Sleep!
Not getting enough sleep not only leaves you sleep deprived, and your body in sleep debt, but it can also have detrimental impacts on your gut which can further contribute to even more sleep issues.
Break out of that cycle as soon as you can by prioritising 7-8 hours of uninterrupted rest per night.
Seek professional medical help if needed.
2. Eat Slowly
Chewing and eating slowing allows your body the space and time for full digestion and absorption of nutrients, which can also help reduce digestive discomfort.
Stop rushing through your meals, enjoy them when you have the time to!
3. Lower Stress Levels
The body under too much stress can really take a toll on you entirely...do not underestimate the internal stress you are inflicting.
Try meditation, walking regularly, getting a massage, decreasing caffeine consumption, laughing, yoga or even a pet!
4. Yes, The One You Were All Waiting For: WATER
Drinking plenty of water has been proven to have an undeniable beneficial effect on the (mucosal) lining inside the intestines including the balance of good bacteria in the gut micro-biome. It’s the easiest and most simple way to promote a healthier and more balanced gut.
There is literally no excuse for not drinking water frequently…so stay hydrated sis!