As far as we know, the digestive system is responsible for the regulation of our food consumption, digestion, and the removal of waste. Without it, much of our bodily functions will cease, resulting in critical health conditions and even death.
Currently, there are about 70 million people with a digestive disease in the U.S. – not to mention how much more can be found with similar conditions the world over. With the recent upheaval caused by Covid-19, we need to ensure some semblance of normality in our lives.
If there’s one thing you can still control, it’s your gut health. The food you eat can have a positive or negative impact on your overall health and wellbeing. What if you had a way to guarantee that you only reaped the positives?
In this post, we’ll explore the importance of gut health, signs of an unhealthy gut, and solutions such as the low-FODMAP diet that can improve your gut health.
- What is gut health?
If you’ve come this far, you must be wondering, ‘what exactly is gut health?’
Gut health is a term used to describe the physical state and function of the many components which make the gastrointestinal tract.
Various microorganisms can be found in the digestive tract. Many of these bacteria, viruses, and yeast, which are often called gut microbiomes are essential for human health. On the other hand, there are others which can be very harmful to us.
Gut health is concerned with maintaining the right balance of microorganisms to ensure optimal physical health.
- Why should we pay attention to our gut health?
Now that you understand the function of the gut health, you may still be unclear as to how relevant a role it plays in ensuring our overall health and wellbeing.
Think of it this way;
A healthy digestive system can breakdown all the food we swallow. Our body extracts the necessary nutrients and disposes of the waste.
In the course of these processes, the healthy bacteria in the digestive tract as well as the immune cells ward off other infectious agents, thus restricting their ability to cause harm to the rest of the body.
For an unhealthy gut, much of this would be impossible. The imbalance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria would prevent immune cells from fighting off infectious agents. This would result in a range of digestive problems.
- What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?
An unhealthy gut can manifest in many different ways.
Usually, these symptoms develop as a result of our diet and general lifestyle. When you don’t get enough sleep, consume too many processed or high-sugar foods, you’re slowly causing damage to your gut microbiome.
Even factors such as over-reliance on antibiotics and too much stress can also impact your gut health. And like all things health-related, a problem with your gut health can result in a downward spiral in which other parts of the body are affected.
Here are some signs of an unhealthy gut;
- Stomach disturbances such as blaring, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abnormal or unintentional weight gain
- Severe weight loss
- Food intolerances
- Poor sleep
- Skin irritation.
At some point or the other, we all experience digestive problems such as those listed above. When the symptoms persist, it may hint at an underlying problem.
- How can I improve my gut health?
One of the most effective ways to boost your gut health during the pandemic is by revising your diet plan.
Have you heard about FODMAPs?
FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols.” These are certain types of carbohydrates that people with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems often find difficult to digest.
These small carbohydrates can be found in beans, wheat, beverages, sweeteners, milk, ice-cream, and certain fruits.
Studies show that diets rich in Fodmap may be linked to digestive problems such as gas, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Conversely, low-FODMAP diets have proven beneficial to people with unstable guts and digestive problems.
So, if you’re looking for a sure way to improve your gut health, talk to your doctor about starting a low-FODMAP diet.
Some other ways to boost gut health include;
- Consume probiotics and fermented foods
Probiotics help in maintaining a healthy gut and preventing inflammation and other intestinal problems. You can get them by eating fermented foods or taking probiotics supplements.
- Reduce stress
Stress management is important for gut health. To improve gut health, eliminate all forms of stressors around you. You should also engage in exercise to reduce stress levels and get better sleep.
- Avoid overdependence on antibiotics
Although antibiotics can help fight bacterial infections, constant usage can cause the bacteria to become resistant to the medication. To avoid this, only take antibiotics when necessary and consider alternatives whenever possible.
By adopting certain changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can improve gut health and enjoy a better quality of life – despite the pandemic.