Digestive Health: What You Need to Know

digestive health
December 17, 2020 0 Comments

Do you know that your digestive system impacts your entire body? Research has shown that gut health affects your immune system, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and cancer. With that in mind, don’t you think it’s time to get to know your gut better and how you can support it?

The Gut

You may have been taught that the digestive system is simple: food goes in your mouth. Your teeth and saliva break the food down. When you swallow, the food goes down your esophagus to your stomach, where it is digested. Following that, the food moves into your intestines, where some more nutrients are absorbed. Finally, the waste is excreted. However, studies over the past two decades have shown that there’s a lot more going on than that.

It turns out that there are 300-500 different species of bacteria in your digestive tract, some harmful and some beneficial. Anyone person has 10-100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells living in their gut. Furthermore, the ratio and health of these organisms are directly linked to your own health.

The Unhealthy Gut

If you have digestive issues, then something has gone wrong in your gut micro-biome. The signs manifest in the following ways:

Upset Stomach

You may have stomach disturbances like bloating, gas, constipation, heartburn, and diarrhea. These conditions are all signs that your body is having trouble processing food and eliminating waste.

Sugar Carvings/High Sugar Diet

Processed foods with added sugars can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut. The imbalance can even cause sugar cravings, which will make you want to eat more of these kinds of foods, which will cause even more damage.

Unintentional Weight Changes

If you haven’t made any changes to your exercise routine or diet, but you are gaining or losing weight, you may have an unhealthy gut. An imbalance in your gut’s micro-organisms can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Also, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause weight loss, while insulin resistance may cause weight gain.

Sleep and Energy Problems

Insomnia has been linked to poor gut health. Most of your body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin affects your ability to sleep. If you aren’t sleeping well, you may end up with chronic fatigue.

Skin Irritation

Skin conditions like eczema have been associated with a damaged gut. Food allergies or inflammation in the gut caused by a poor diet cause certain proteins to leak out into the body, which can irritate the skin and cause conditions.

Autoimmune Conditions

Studies continue to find that gut health affects the immune system. Research suggests that an unhealthy gut increases systemic inflammation, which alters the proper functioning of the immune system. Unfortunately, this can create a situation where the body attacks itself, leading to autoimmune diseases.

Food Intolerances

Food intolerance is the result of the body having difficulty digesting certain foods (this is different than a food allergy). Some researchers believe that food intolerances are caused by poor quality of bacteria in the gut.

Supporting Your Digestive System

Taking proactive steps to support your gut health can make a huge difference in your life. Digestive health is not only affected by the food you eat but by your lifestyle choices. If you want to make sure you have a healthy gut, follow these 12 tips.

1.) Eat a High-Fiber Diet

Eating a high-fiber diet that’s rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes can improve your digestive health. As well as that a high fiber diet can also help you prevent or treat various digestive conditions, like diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

2.) Eat Both Insoluble and Soluble Fiber

Each type of fiber helps your digestive system in different ways. The body can’t digest insoluble fiber (wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains), so it helps to add bulk to the stools. In contrast to Soluble fiber (oat bran, nuts, seeds, and legumes), which draws in water and can help prevent too watery stools.

3.) Limit High-Fat Foods

Fatty foods can slow down the digestive process, which will make you more prone to constipation. It should be noted that healthy fat is crucial to your diet, so pair fatty foods with high-fiber foods to help things move along more smoothly.

4.) Choose Lean Meats

Avoid digestive discomfort by choosing lean cuts of meat like pork loin and skinless poultry.

5.) Take Probiotics or Prebiotics

Probiotics contain the same kind of healthy bacteria and yeasts naturally present in your digestive tract. Importantly, they combat the effects of a poor diet, antibiotics, and stress.

Good sources of probiotics include:

  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut

Prebiotics are in:

  • Raw fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

6.) Eat on a Schedule

Consuming meals and healthy snacks on a regular schedule can keep your digestive system flowing smoothly.

7.) Hydrate

Drinking plenty of water creates softer, bulkier stools, which helps them to pass through more easily.

8.) Avoid Smoking, Excessive Caffeine, and Alcohol

Liquor, cigarettes, and too many caffeinated beverages can interfere with wreak havoc on your digestive system and lead to stomach ulcers and heartburn.

9.) Regular Exercise

Regular exercise keeps foods moving through your digestive system and reduces constipation.

10.) Manage Stress

Anxiety and stress can cause your digestive system to go into overdrive. Undoubtedly taking part in stress-reducing activities that you enjoy as a part of your daily life will help reduce stress.

11.) Chew Your Food

Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly helps your body fully digest and absorb nutrients.

12.) Food Intolerances

Last but not least, check for any food intolerances. Cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, rashes, fatigue, and acid reflux can signify food intolerance. However, working with a doctor to eliminate trigger foods can positively impact your digestive health.

Improve Your Digestive Health!

If you keep your gut healthy and happy, it will do the same for you.

If you are experiencing any of the signs of an unhealthy gut, contact us for an appointment today!