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Go with Your Gut

February 10th, 2021

Most of the time you probably refer to your gut in the metaphorical sense. As in “I went with my gut” or “I have a gut feeling about this”.

Your actual gut, on the other hand, is comprised of your small and large intestines—and its health is critical for your health overall.

Here’s what you need to know…

Why is Gut Health Important?

Like many people, you may think your digestive tract is little more than a long tube. Food goes in one end…nutrients are absorbed…and what’s left over comes out the other end.

Well…it’s a little more complicated than that.

Once food is broken down by the acids in your stomach, it passes into the small and large intestines. It’s here that the really important digestive work happens.

Of particular importance are the “good” bacteria that reside within your intestines. While your stomach starts the process of breaking food down, these bacteria do the heavy lifting.

Because they do such important work, the quality and quantity of your gut bacteria are of particular importance.

Diversity within your gut biome is important, too. In fact, the average person has anywhere form 300-500 different varieties of bacteria contained within their gut biome. The more diversity amongst these bacteria, the healthier your gut.

These good bacteria, when healthy, diverse, and present in adequate numbers, provide several important benefits to your body. Notably, they can…

  • Metabolize nutrients from food
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Regulate metabolism
  • Prevent diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar
  • Reduce risk factors for cancer, arthritis, heart disease and other ailments
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Regulate mood
  • Modulate hormone levels

There’s even evidence to suggest that the health of your gut biome may have an impact on longevity.

But what if these good bacteria aren’t healthy?

When Gut Health Goes Sideways

Many things can throw the good bacteria in your intestines out of balance. Common causes include:

  1. Stress – high stress levels are hard on your body…and your fragile gut biome.
  2. Poor diet – eating too much processed food can be damaging to your gut biome. So can a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  3. Not enough sleep – sleep is when your body repairs and regenerates itself. That goes for every aspect of your anatomy, including the bacteria in your gut.
  4. Antibiotics – unfortunately, antibiotics aren’t selective. In other words, antibiotics don’t just kill the “bad” bacteria that might be making you sick. Good bacteria are destroyed too.

Your Gut Is Speaking to You. Are You Listening?

If your gut biome is unhealthy, your body will likely let you know. Common symptoms of gut bacteria that are out of balance include:

    • Sudden and unexplained changes in weight
    • Fatigue
    • Stomach pain and upset
    • Diarrhea or constipation
    • Gastric reflux
    • Gas and bloating
    • Joint pain
    • Depression

How to Keep Your Gut Healthy

We’ve established that gut health is critical to your overall health. So how can you keep those gut bacteria in proper balance?

Here are some simple steps you can take:

Get plenty of rest

Doctors recommend all adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This gives your gut biome a chance to rest and repair itself.

Drink lots of water

Studies show that water protects the lining of your intestines and promotes a balanced gut biome.

Reduce stress

Stress is hard on your gut biome. Do your best to manage your stress levels.

Eat gut-friendly foods

Fermented foods like yogurt and pickles support healthy digestive bacteria.

Use antibiotics responsibly

Antibiotics are a double-edged sword…they kill harmful bacteria and good bacteria. Only take antibiotics under a doctor’s supervision when absolutely necessary.

Take a probiotic supplement

If you want to be sure your gut is in good shape, include a probiotic supplement in your wellness regimen. But…make sure your probiotic is high in quality or it is likely to do you no good.

Happy Gut…Healthy You

Is it time for a “gut check”? Let’s talk about it.

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