Let’s talk about your gut. It’s associated with digesting and distributing nutrients from food throughout your body. But the role it plays is much more vital to health than that.
The “gut” for short, also known as the gastrointestinal tract is a complex group of bodily functions. The mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine and colon are all included in these functions.
You probably already know that what you eat affects how you feel and what your body does. But it goes much deeper than that. What your body breaks down and absorbs will have an impact on every aspect of your functioning, from mental clarity and mood to physical functions like bone, skin and muscle health.
The intestine contains something called the gut microbiota which is trillions of microorganisms that lives in each of us (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.) Certain bacteria are responsible for neurotransmitters that affect mood. Since the gut and the brain are always communicating, this is important.
For example, gamma aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter produced by a specific bacteria, contributes to calmness and can ease anxiety. A lack of this can increase anxiety and cause a person to become less tolerant of stressful situations.
Other functions of microbiota include teaching the immune system the difference between good and bad bacteria, as well as defending against harmful organisms (gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com.) It is also able to digest different kinds of foods that human bodies cannot digest on its own. It also breaks down vitamins that are essential to our health.
Because of its multifaceted ability, microbiota is considered by some scientists as an organ all by itself.
So what are some signs that your gut may not be at its healthiest?
Some of the symptoms could encompass an upset stomach, fatigue or sleep disturbances or food intolerances. A diet high in sugar can also be a culprit for an unbalanced gut.
In order to heal your gut and get your body back in check, you should take some steps toward healthier living. Simple steps you can take are keeping your stress levels down. High levels are damaging to your whole body, let alone your gut. Reducing negative stimuli and participating in positive activities can go a long way.
Increased sleep and water intake are important as well and can easily be improved on.
Another option is to take a pre or probiotic. A prebiotic promotes good bacteria to grow, while probiotics contain already living good bacteria. The downside, however,
is that not all of these supplements are of good quality and can make you feel worse.
It’s best to do your research and consult a doctor if going this route.
The last thing you can do is to overhaul your diet. Do you tend to eat processed foods that are high in sugar and fat? If so, try eating less of that adding more good foods. High-fiber foods such as beans and berries are good options. Fermented foods are another good option, as they include natural probiotics — yogurt and sauerkraut are good sources of this.
Lastly, foods containing collagen-rich foods like bone broth are a great source of gut health.