High stress levels, sleep deprivation and processed foods have become part of our daily lives. But these modern disturbances can cause harm to our bodies, particularly our digestive system. Gut health affects our immune system, heart, brain and even our mood!
It’s vital that we stay conscious of maintaining a healthy gut system so that our overall health doesn’t suffer. Take a look at the signs of an unhealthy gut below and how you can combat them with some simple lifestyle changes.
SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY GUT
1. UPSET STOMACH
Stomach-related issues like bloating, constipation, and heartburn can all be signs of a troubled gut, resulting in difficulties processing food.
2. WEIGHT FLUCTUATION
An imbalanced gut can prevent your body from being able to absorb nutrients and store fat properly, causing you to gain or lose weight unintentionally.
3. SLEEP DISTURBANCES
Gut damage can cause insomnia or constant fatigue. The majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood and sleep, is produced in the gut.
4. SKIN IRRITATION
Skin conditions like eczema could be caused a damaged gut. A poor diet can inflame your gut, resulting in an increased excretion of proteins that irritate the skin.
5. FOOD INTOLERANCES
Unlike a food allergy which causes an allergic reaction, the poor quality of bacteria in the gut can make it difficult to process certain foods and result in an upset stomach.
WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH
1. REDUCE YOUR STRESS LEVELS
High stress levels affect many different aspects of your health, including your gut. Give yourself some time for relaxation through meditation, massages or spending time with friends and family. Reducing your caffeine intake and using calming essential oils can also help to lower stress levels.
2. GET QUALITY SLEEP
Not getting sufficient sleep can adversely affect your gut health, causing further sleep issues in the long term. Go to bed between 8pm and midnight and prioritise having 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
3. CHEW SLOWLY
Eating your meals more slowly and chewing thoroughly promotes proper digestion and absorption of valuable nutrients. Chewing an average of 32 times before swallowing reduces the risk of suffering from an upset stomach and improves gut health.
4. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining the balance of good bacteria in the gut and the mucus lining of your intestines. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily to give your digestive system a healthy boost.
5. TAKE A PREBIOTIC OR PROBIOTIC
Including a prebiotic or probiotic supplement into your diet is a simple way to promote gut health. These supplements increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut to aid in digestion. Be sure to consult your doctor to select the best supplement for your needs.
6. **ALTER YOUR DIET
Lowering your intake of high-sugar, high-fat and processed foods as well as adding lean protein and plant-based foods to your daily meals are an excellent way to improve your gut health. A high-fibre diet promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria and regulates your digestive system.
7. FOODS TO EAT FOR A HEALTHY GUT
- Whole grains
- Fermented foods
Discover more health tips and ways to improve your physical and mental wellbeing in our Wellness category.