Eating and drinking everything that tastes good may make us all feel like we have a “happy tummy,” but inside, our tummies or guts may not be having a good time at all, unless you’re consuming only healthy foods. Our guts contain microorganisms or good bacteria called “gut microbiome,” which should be balanced to maintain our physical and mental health. Our immunity will also be boosted when our gut microbiome is nourished.
An unhealthy gut can put us at risk of various diseases, from mental illnesses to grave ones like cancer. Periodic checkups are essential, especially if you’re aware that you have an unhealthy lifestyle. In some cases, a colonoscopy from a clinic in Salem or other locations may be necessary to examine your gut health.
Below are the signs of an unhealthy gut and what you can do to improve it.
1. Stomach Disturbances
A healthy gut should be able to digest food easily. Hence, frequent bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn may indicate that you have poor gut health.
2. Habitual Intake of Junk Food
Processed and sugary foods can decrease the amount of our gut microbiome, causing us to crave more sugar and compromise our gut health even further. High levels of refined sugar are linked to inflammation, which can be a contributor to the risk of developing cancer.
3. Unintentional Weight Gain or Loss
A fluctuating weight without exercise or changes to your diet can be a sign of a gut microbiome imbalance. Sudden weight gain may be a symptom of insulin resistance, while sudden weight loss may be attributed to a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
4. Irregular Sleep and Constant Fatigue
Interestingly, poor sleeping patterns can have a connection with our gut health. Serotonin, a hormone responsible for mood and sleep, is partly produced in our guts, so gut conditions can disrupt the release of this hormone and affect our sleep.
5. Skin Conditions
Eczema and other skin conditions can also be linked to gut issues. Poor diet and food allergies can cause inflammation and an increased “leakage” of specific proteins that can become skin irritants.
6. Autoimmune diseases
Medical research has discovered that poor gut health may cause increased inflammation and thus disrupt the immune system, leading to the development of autoimmune diseases.
7. Digestion Issues
The lack of good bacteria in the gut can make it struggle to digest certain foods, causing stomach disturbances, as mentioned. Food allergies are also suggested to be linked to an unhealthy gut.
Ways to Improve Gut Health
Thankfully, it doesn’t take anything demanding to improve our gut health. Consuming less junk food can be a real challenge, and replacing sugars with alternatives like aspartame wouldn’t help, either. Battle your sweet cravings by filling your stomach with foods rich in fiber, like bananas, whole grains, onions, garlic, and asparagus, to name a few. They’re all tasty but healthy, so your gut will love them more.
Ever been hooked to the Korean food craze? Kimchi is good for our guts. Fermented foods are natural sources of probiotics, which boosts the gut microbiome. Kefir and other fermented veggies are also excellent choices.
Reduce stress by exercising, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and meditating. High-stress levels can disrupt sleep, which can affect gut health, as previously pointed out.
When you’ve contracted a bacterial infection, consult a specialist first before taking antibiotics. Excessive intake may damage the gut microbiota or lead to antibiotic resistance.
Besides antibiotics, cleaning products—surprisingly—can also affect gut health. Research has found that people who use disinfectant products at least weekly are twice more likely to have high levels of bacteria that are linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Infants younger than five months are particularly the most affected by these gut disturbances.
Combat an unhealthy weight with a vegetarian diet. Veggies have high levels of prebiotic fiber, which optimizes good bacteria. And of course, avoid harmful vices like smoking. A “happy tummy” will only be real with a healthy diet and lifestyle.