The next time you’re feeling under the weather, there may be an unlikely culprit causing your sickness—your gut! While most people assume your gut is only responsible for digestion, it affects a large number of bodily functions.
Your gut’s main function is to digest food, absorb nutrients, and excrete waste. However, the gut also has an effect on your blood sugar, immune system, and even your mental health. This is because your gut holds over 300 special bacteria that help our bodies run properly. While some of these bacteria can be harmful to your health, many are good and even necessary for a healthy body.
Also known as your “gut microbiome”, these microorganisms can provide numerous health benefits when balanced. Unfortunately, if they’re imbalanced, they can cause all kinds of issues.
Read on to learn the various effects of poor gut health and how you can improve your microbiome.
Effects of Bad Gut Health
When your gut microbes are out of balance, you’ll likely experience more frequent bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn. Lesser known side effects include:
Frequent Sugar Cravings. When your diet consists of mostly processed foods and added sugars, the good bacteria in your gut will likely decrease. This leads to even more sugar cravings which will eventually lead to inflammation and vulnerability to numerous diseases.
Unintentional Weight Changes. Losing or gaining weight without changing your diet can be a signifier of gut issues. An imbalanced gut microbiome can’t absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat as easily as a healthy gut.[3,4]
Fatigue. A gut problem can contribute to poor sleep or even insomnia, which can result in daytime fatigue. This is because the majority of our serotonin, a hormone that affects our mood and sleep pattern, is produced in the gut.
Skin Problems. Skin conditions can sometimes be related to a damaged gut if the microbiome is out of balance.
Food Intolerance. When your gut is imbalanced, your body has trouble absorbing nutrients. This makes it especially difficult to digest certain foods which can lead to bloating, gas, and other digestive issues.
Mood Issues. There’s a plethora of evidence that suggests a connection between your gut and your brain. Gut bacteria produce hormones like serotonin and dopamine which are critical for mood, anxiety, and motivation. When your gut is imbalanced, so are the bacteria that produce these hormones.
How to Balance Your Gut Health
But while your gut microbiome can easily become imbalanced, it can just as easily get back to health by following a few key guidelines.
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise reduces stress and creates endorphins which promote good bacteria in the gut. There have been several studies that indicate that low-intensity exercise can diversify gut flora and have protective effects, reducing the risk of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and other risks related to the gut.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
A healthy diet consisting of omega-3 fatty acids and plenty of leafy greens can improve your gut biome dramatically. Avoiding processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods while increasing your fiber intake can also work to balance your microbiome. However, all bodies are built differently and we each have different foods that may cause a gut imbalance. If you’re still dealing with gastrointestinal problems after cutting out processed foods, you may need to talk to a specialist to find your food triggers.
3. Stay Hydrated
This is a simple way to keep your gut balanced! Drinking plenty of water has been shown to balance out good bacteria in the gut. Drinking water right when you wake up is a great way to get your digestive tract moving while cleansing your bowels as well.
4. Lower Stress Levels
Chronic high stress levels can take a toll on your entire body including your gut. When you’re stressed, some of those stress hormones are released into your digestive tract and interact negatively with your gut flora. To reduce stress levels, try to find stress relievers that are personal to you. Some great options include meditating, laughing, owning a pet, yoga, or even just hanging out with friends. There are no rules when it comes to lowering stress levels—do what works for you!
5. Take a Daily Probiotic
Adding a probiotic supplement to your diet is another great and easy way to kickstart healthy gut flora. Multi-strain probiotics, which contain more than one strain of bacteria, have broader benefits to help balance the microbiome . Pattern Wellness' Probiotic contains 11 bacteria strains that alleviate gut issues and other problems. Our proprietary blend of proven probiotics reduces levels of harmful gut bacteria to boost immune function. Pairing a quality probiotic with a healthy lifestyle can transform your gut health for the better.
If you find yourself struggling with any issues with unknown causes, it may be related to your gut health. Trying out these tips could improve your health and put your life back on track! Click here to get started on a probiotic for ultimate gut health.