“You are what you eat,” isn’t that the saying? What you are eating may be harming your gut health and, in turn, your overall health. Multiple studies show the link between gut health and your immune system, skin conditions, cancer, autoimmune disease, mood, and mental health, to name a few. Your gut microbiome has anywhere from 300-500 different species of bacteria. Often we think that bacteria are harmful; however, many of the bacteria in your gut are very beneficial to your health. They even prevent harmful bacteria from reproducing.
Why having a healthy Gut Microbiome is Important:
We all have trillions of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi & other microscopic living things) living in our bodies. The microbes that live inside our large intestines are known as the gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome, when healthy, plays a very active role in your overall health. For example, your gut microbiome can affect how your body responds to an infection by communicating with immune cells. Some studies also show that it shares with the central nervous system (CNS) influencing brain function and behavior. Furthermore, digesting the fiber and creating short-chain fatty acids can help prevent weight gain, diabetes, and cancer risk. In short, having a healthy functioning gut microbiome has many benefits to your overall health.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut Microbiome:
Now that we can see just how important having a healthy gut microbiome is, how do we know if it is healthy or not? One way to tell if your microbiome might be unhealthy is to have a high diet in processed foods and refined sugars. This type of diet can decrease the healthy bacteria in your gut. Another way to evaluate your gut health is to keep track of how often you are suffering from stomach issues like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and heartburn. A healthy gut can digest and eliminate foods with less difficulty.
Furthermore, serotonin, one hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. So, it stands to reason that if you are having issues with insomnia or poor sleep, you may have an unhealthy gut microbiome. In addition to sleep and stomach issues, unexpected weight changes may be a symptom of an unhealthy gut. This hormone irregularly could mean weight fluctuations; an unhealthy gut can inhibit your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, absorb nutrients, and store fat. By talking with Dr. Engsberg about your symptoms, she can help identify an unhealthy gut microbiome affecting your overall health.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Gut Microbiome Healthy?
Now what? We know why we want a healthy gut and how our body might be telling us that our gut is unhealthy, so what steps can you take right now? AgeWellMD in Denver believes in The Art of Aging Well™, and one part of that progresses over perfection. When we find an issue with our body, we often want to jump all in and do a ton of research. Then we get overwhelmed by said research and don’t know where to start.
We have come up with some things you can do right now.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water has a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of your intestines as well as the balance of good bacteria in your gut.
- Lower your Stress Levels: Chronic stress levels are not just hard on your gut but your body as a whole. Examples of self-care are meditation, exercise, spending time with loved ones, laughing, or whatever you find works best for you. Take a moment for yourself, and your whole body will reap the benefits.
- Sleep: While we said that sleep issues were a symptom of unhealthy gut microbiome, it is also important to prioritize healthy sleep.
- Nutrition: Studies have shown that diets high in fiber help contribute to a healthy gut. By eating foods like bone broth, garlic and onion, legumes, bananas, and berries, you can help support gut health. Also, cutting out processed foods high in sugar and fat helps maintain a healthy gut.
- Stay away from antibiotics: When possible (after consulting with your Dr.), skip the antibiotics for your next cold or sore throat. Antibiotics are the opposite of probiotics and KILL a lot of the good bacteria in the gut. That is why there are often digestive issues after taking antibiotics.
- Probiotics: Probiotics like lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis are two good bacteria types that you want in your gut. By taking a probiotic, you can increase these in your system.
In recent years we have found that the gut has a much larger impact on your overall health and wellness. Keeping your stomach healthy contributes to a robust immune system, improved mood, restorative sleep, healthy skin, and enhanced digestion. Let AgeWellMD help you on your wellness journey. Call today to talk to Dr. Engsberg about a comprehensive health plan.