How much do you think about the importance of gut health?
As it turns out, your gut health — also known as your gut microbiome — has a lot to do with the state of your general health, too. Given that 80% of your body’s immunity lives in your digestive system, it’s no wonder doctors are finding out many ailments are linked to poor gut health.
Thanks to recent studies, we’re learning more about how gut microbes influence our immune systems. Researchers are now finding the tiny microscopic organisms that live within the intestines may be responsible for keeping us feeling well more than originally suspected.
Not only does a healthy gut mean a more active digestive system, but it’s also been linked to better mental clarity and a reduction in overall inflammation. Research shows that a healthy gut can also lead to a healthier, longer life.
So, it turns out, bacteria — especially in your gut — can be a good thing!
Curious about the full impact of your gut on your overall health? Read on to learn about the importance of gut health and how you can maintain it.
What is the Gut Microbiome?
Gut microbiome is the term that refers to the trillions of microorganisms that live in your intestines.
The microorganisms — microbes for short — in the gut are a balanced collection of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. As you age, your microbiome expands; the higher the variety of microbes in your gut usually means you’re in good health.
Trillions of these microbes live mostly inside a pocket called the cecum within the large intestine. This is what’s officially known as the “gut microbiome.”
The Importance of Gut Health: Why Gut Immunity Matters
Gut health is critical to overall health. If the gut is not “well” it can lead to a variety of problems like diarrhea, constipation, candida overgrowth, and other health concerns. A healthy gut filled with the “good” bacteria can stave off illnesses and chronic health conditions.
Numerous studies in scientific publications have repeatedly found the links between the gut health and the immune system. Even nutritionists are starting to see that when diversity of the microbiome dwindles, there’s an increase in health concerns like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Why is Gut Health Important?
A healthy gut means the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract is in harmony. Often, antibiotics and a poor diet deplete the growth of good bacteria in the intestines.
These essential intestinal bacteria help the body:
- Remove toxins
- Obtain nutrients from food
- Fight harmful viruses and bacteria
- Create the “feel-good” chemical serotonin
Research shows the gut needs good bacteria to thrive. A balanced gut microbiome enhances the immune system overall and can improve depression symptoms, too, according to research published in the Gastroenterology & Hepatology journal. Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center also found that the gut microbes also promote the formation of a type of immune cell called regulatory T cells (Tregs), which are responsible for keeping the immune system working well.
Depending on the makeup of your own gut, some bacteria fight off inflammation while other bacteria may encourage inflammation.
Chronic Conditions and the Gut
Unfortunately, chronic conditions within the digestive tract aren’t an uncommon occurrence. While some of it may be in part due to environmental or hereditary factors, some may be caused by lifestyle choices like unhealthy diets.
In the U.S. alone, 60-70 million Americans have chronic digestive issues like:
- Chronic constipation
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Chronic health issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), in particular, impact approximately 11 percent of the worldwide population.
Luckily, researchers are discovering new IBS treatment options that can help alleviate both anxiety and intestinal symptoms in IBS patients, according to a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. More studies are needed, of course, but the research is promising.
It’s well understood now that certain foods may feed good bacteria and expand its reach in the gut. On the other hand, processed foods may cause digestive issues and minimize the good gut health.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine found individuals who consumed large amounts of animal protein tend to have a higher risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which often indicates poor gut health.
These studies among others are indicating one important common denominator: Diet has just as much to do with overall health as exercise does in maintaining strong immunity.
The Gut and Mental Health Impacts
It probably comes as no surprise that the brain has a direct impact on the stomach.
In some scientific circles, the gut is referred to as the “second brain” because of how it communicates with the brain.
Certain bacteria are responsible for producing brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Serotonin — a neurotransmitter — is thought to regulate mood and social behavior. This same “feel-good” hormone is also mostly made in the gut.
Harvard researchers recently discovered the “gut-brain” connection. If you’ve ever felt nauseous from nerves or “butterflies” before a big presentation, you’ve experienced just how much power the mind has over the gut.
Not only can stomach issues be the cause of anxiety or stress, it can also be the result of anxiety, depression, or stress. Experiencing anxiety and depression is also known to create changes in the gut microbiome due to the body’s stress response.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
If your body doesn’t have enough healthy bacteria, you’ll be able to tell relatively easily. The bad bacteria takes over and can manifest in a variety of different health concerns from skin rashes to sleep issues. As soon as you notice these issues, it’s important to connect with a healthcare provider to figure out the underlying issues.
Signs that you may have an unhealthy gut include:
- Sleep issues
- Skin rashes
- Upset stomach
- Food intolerances
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
If you start noticing unexplained weight gain, stomach pains, constipation, etc. it may be time to start adjusting your eating habits. High-quality foods full of fiber, along with fermented foods may be the answer to balancing your gut health.
How to Improve Your Gut Health
Improving gut health isn’t all that hard. It takes some dietary changes and a willingness to try new foods, but it’s a sure-fire way to improve your gut health for the good.
So, how do you maintain your gut health?
Gut health is more than just eating well. There’s also strong research that indicates if you have a healthy gut, that you may also have a longer life.
Simple ways to improve gut immunity:
Eat prebiotics - Prebiotics are dietary fibers that “feed” the good gut bacteria your digestive tract needs to function properly.
Enjoy probiotic foods - Probiotics are good-for-you gut bacteria that offer great benefits to the brain and digestive tract. Try a variety of probiotic foods and drinks like sauerkraut, kefir water, kimchi, and yogurt, for your best gut health. Our organic GUT CHECK shot has 1 billion CFU probiotics in it!
Avoid unnecessary antibiotics - Antibiotics wipe out all the bacteria in your gut— both good and bad — so it’s best to avoid this when possible. If you must take a round of antibiotics, invest in a good probiotic to take as soon as you’re done with the medication. This will restore your gut balance again.
Drink plenty of water - Our body is made of water, which is why it’s important to stay hydrated. Water assists the body in removing toxins and other waste more easily, which means you’re less likely to get constipated.
- Avoid processed foods - Eat whole foods when possible. It’s easier on the gut, and you won’t be ingesting artificial dyes or excess sugars.
Keep Your Gut in Check
By now, you can tell that the gut microbiome plays an essential role in your health. Not only does it aid in a productive digestive system, but a healthy gut overall can benefit your health in a variety of ways.
Immunity, indeed, does start with the gut.
If you often experience cramping, nausea, constipation, and frequent stomach pain, it may be time to start keeping a journal of your symptoms. Maintain a dated food journal detailing what you ate each day, along with any undesirable symptoms. This will give you an idea of what foods might trigger digestive issues for you. Avoid those foods and consider adding in a probiotic to see how you feel.
If the issues persist and often cause pain, you may want to schedule a check-up with your primary. They can refer you out to a gastroenterologist for further evaluation and education on the importance of gut health.
Ready to start working on your gut health? Try out our popular organic apple cider and probiotic GUT CHECK shot. It’s full of good-for-your gut goodness, including apple cider vinegar, probiotics, aloe vera juice, ginger juice, lemon juice, and coconut water!