The health of your stomach and intestines plays a large role in your overall wellness. These organs in the gastrointestinal tract, often known collectively as the gut, are responsible for many of your body’s functions and how you respond to certain stimuli. Being aware of what your body needs and maintaining proper nutrition can go a long way toward preserving gut health. Here are 7 things to know about gut health that could change the way you approach taking care of yourself.
1. Your Gut Is A Complicated System
Modern health research suggests that the gut plays a much larger role in overall wellness than many people even realize. The gut is considered a “microbiome.” Various parts of it contain hundreds of different species of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. These microbes can be good or bad for your health, and are widely diverse in nature. Balancing the amount of healthy and unhealthy microbes in your gut is key to nourishing your body, and your life in general. This is why it’s so important to discover for yourself what foods are most beneficial—and most damaging—to your health.
2. Your Gut Can Affect Your Immune System, Allergies, and More
Everyone has experienced an upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, loose stool, cramping, or a stomach virus at some point in their life. However, many people experience symptoms like these on a regular basis. This is not a normal or healthy occurrence, and if you experience these symptoms, consult with your doctor about what could be going on inside your body. These symptoms can indicate conditions such as: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), allergies, Crohn’s, or another chronic disease.
Your gut can also influence other aspects of health. Studies suggest that it can influence dry skin conditions like eczema, allergies to certain foods and plants, and the physical appearance of parts of your body like hair and fingernails. The nutrients you take in are broken down and spread throughout your body, so if you have more than enough of one kind and not enough of another, your body may respond to it by not working as well as it could. This can also lead to having a compromised immune system or the development of age-related health conditions.
3. Gut Health Is Often Linked to Mental Health
If you have a mental health condition like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, it may manifest itself through more than just your emotions or mood. It may also affect how your gut behaves. Many people who experience mental health struggles may find that flare-ups also trigger their gut to become upset.
New studies also suggest that the gut may play a significant role in mood management, as well. Everyone knows what it feels like to be “hangry,” but the influence that your gut health has on your overall emotional state may extend beyond that. If your gut is unhealthy, you may experience increased amounts of mental or emotional distress. This could be your body’s instinctive way of telling you that it isn’t receiving the nutrition and care that it needs to work properly.
4. Exercise Can Influence Gut Health
Exercise impacts every aspect of your health, including your gut. Regular physical activity can make digestion and nutrient distribution much more efficient. It can also help reduce the amount of toxins and bad microbes in your body while helping balance out the healthy microbes. Furthermore, regular exercise prepares your body, and therefore your gut, to handle environmental stressors in a much more healthy way. So when life throws you a curveball, your whole body will be more prepared to respond healthily.
5. Your Nutrition Choices Can Make A Big Difference In Your Gut
A lot of the issues that occur within your gut are the result of inflammation or the toxic growth of bad bacteria. These issues can be resolved by changing the kinds of foods you consume. Foods that contain a lot of unhealthy fats, sodium, and processed carbohydrates, such as fast food, artificial sweeteners, and white breads often allow the bad bacteria in your gut to thrive. Foods that are high in fiber, antioxidants, protein, and healthy carbohydrates are more likely to help the good bacteria thrive and keep you from having gut health problems. Some foods to add to your nutritional plan that can help your gut include:
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Lean meats and proteins like fish, chicken, nuts, and beans
- Healthy carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes
- Fermented or bacteria-filled foods like kombucha and yogurt
6. Proper Self-Care Can Reduce Gut Health Issues
Self-care activities are often a way that people unwind from busy lives and allow themselves to pay attention to their own health. Many activities that people do to accomplish this can have positive impacts on gut health, such as:
- Getting a proper amount of sleep
- Drinking lots of water
- Savoring and eating food slowly (which helps with digestion)
- Practicing mindful behaviors like meditation and artistic expression
- Managing anxiety and depression conditions with various forms of therapy and/or medicine
When you take the time to take care of yourself, your gut will thank you, and you may also experience other effects of having a healthy gut, such as a better immune system, improved mood, and clearer skin.
7. Taking Care Of Your Gut Can Reduce Risk of Disease
Studies have shown that taking care of your gut can also help with preventing negative health conditions from developing, or can help combat them. Careful nutritional management is known to help prevent and treat conditions like diabetes. Keeping your immune system healthy by nourishing your gut can also help prevent or treat autoimmune disorders. Furthermore, managing gut health has been shown to positively impact heart health and weight management.
Contact Us To Learn More
At Community Access Network, we do our best to take care of people’s overall wellness. If you need help caring for your gut, we can help you start a path towards gut health that will also help you maintain the rest of your health. To talk to one of our doctors more about these topics, schedule an appointment with us today!