We all have that one really smart friend. You know, the one who regularly drops words like 'ubiquitous' or 'cacophony' into everyday conversations.
Are you picturing your smart friend? Good.
Then it probably isn't hard to picture them talking about 'gut health' too. It's one of those hip catchphrases that anyone of intelligence is throwing around these days.
But what does it actually mean, and why does it matter? Does it affect our overall health? How do you know if you have a healthy gut? And what you can do to support your gut health?
In this article, we'll answer all those questions and more. Read on to learn why gut health is more than a feeling (or a catchphrase).
What Is Gut Health?
We often think of bacteria as the bad guys, but that's not always true. Your gut is an entire microcosm of organisms that live in a symbiotic relationship with you.
Of course, like all relationships, this balance can be healthy, dysfunctional, or somewhere in between. 'Good' gut health implies that you have the right balance of microorganisms to keep everything running smoothly.
If you have too much (or not enough) of the good stuff, the bad stuff can take over and wreak havoc on your body.
This isn't limited to digestive issues either. Recent research shows a huge connection between your gut health and your brain. In fact, good gut health is the underlying key to good physical and mental health.
Considering this environment involves around 100 trillion microorganisms, achieving the right balance is crucial to optimising your health.
Signs of Good (And Bad) Gut Health
How can you measure the status of your gut health? Since you can't take an actual peek inside your gut, you have to rely on outside signs.
Here are 4 ways to determine if you have a healthy gut—or if it's become a dysfunctional relationship.
When you have a healthy, balanced gut, your digestion is a smooth and painless process. You don't suffer from constipation or diarrhoea. Nor do you struggle with bloating, gas, or heartburn.
On the other hand, the more digestive problems you encounter, the more likely your gut flora is out of whack. Too much bad bacteria (and not enough the good kind) can disrupt the way your body absorbs and processes food.
Another telltale sign of poor gut health? Food intolerance. If you feel unwell after eating dairy, wheat, or other common food items, it might not be an allergy. It could be a sign that it's time to improve your gut health.
2. Mental Clarity
Remember that gut-brain connection we mentioned earlier?
When your gut is healthy, your brain will also function at an optimal level. You'll awake feeling refreshed, your thoughts will flow smoothly, and you'll have a positive outlook on life.
Poor gut health produces the opposite mental reactions. You may struggle with brain fog and have trouble concentrating at work. Studies show that depression and anxiety can also be linked to gut-brain dysfunction.
3. Sleep & Energy Levels
Serotonin is the hormone that controls our sleep and our mood—and the majority of it is produced in our gut. If you generally sleep well and enjoy good energy levels throughout the day, chances are your gut health is great.
If it's not, it can disrupt the absorption and flow of serotonin. This can result in a host of problems from insomnia and moodiness to chronic fatigue syndrome.
'Leaky' gut caused by poor gut health is the source of many inflammatory conditions, from skin problems like eczema to autoimmune diseases. The idea is that inflammation in your gut leaks out and affects other areas of your body.
The healthier your gut, the less likely you are to suffer from any inflammatory conditions.
How to Improve Gut Health Naturally
So, how does your gut measure up? If you think it could use some improvement, here are a few things to try.
1. Take Probiotics
One of the best (and easiest) ways to improve gut health is to feed it plenty of 'good' bacteria. The more good bacteria flourishes, the better internal balance you'll achieve.
2. Eat Fermented & Prebiotic Foods
Aside from a probiotic supplement, you can also feed that good bacteria by including gut-healthy foods in your diet.
Fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are a great place to start. Foods high in prebiotic fibre, such as garlic, onions, and whole grains, also encourage beneficial bacterial growth.
3. Reduce Sugar & Processed Foods
Sugar and processed foods are direct contributors to the inflammation that causes disease.
A diet high in sugars and saturated fats destroy the delicate balance in your gut and wreak havoc on your mental health. Reduce (or eliminate) sugars and processed foods from your diet, including artificial sweeteners.
4. Manage Your Stress Levels
If you don't already have enough reasons to adopt a healthy lifestyle, here's one more. Prolonged stress can—you guessed it—disrupt your gut health.
Regular exercise and plenty of sleep will help to keep your stress levels in check. You can also find healthy, natural ways to unwind, such as practising yoga or getting a massage.
Probiotics: Essential for Good Gut Health
Yes, being able to explain gut health will help you join the ranks of your highly intelligent, well-spoken friends. But, even more important, you'll have the knowledge you need to take control of your own health.
After reading this article, you understand the connection between your gut and the rest of your body. You know how to identify whether your gut is functioning optimally or if it needs some improvement.
You're also armed with the knowledge of how to safely and naturally improve your gut health. And one of the best ways to do so is by investing in a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Fortunately, you don't have to go far. In fact, you don't have to leave your chair.
Click here to browse our collection of probiotics and find the one that best suits your needs.
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