Gut Health and Why It Matters
Gut health is inextricably linked to overall health
The average person has over 100 trillion bacteria from about 500 different species in their digestive system. Ideally, this bacterial population consists of about 85% “good” bacteria, and 15% “bad” bacteria.
Unfortunately, our modern-day environment can throw this percentage out of balance, and increase the number of “bad” bacteria in the gut. For example, we take antibiotics that indiscriminately kill all the bacteria in the gut, we eat meat raised with antibiotics, and we drink water and eat produce contaminated by antibiotics from livestock manure. Poor diet, stress, parasites, chlorinated tap water, and some medications can contribute to the problem.
An imbalance in gut flora can result in a variety of health issues including:
Digestive Problems: Because “good” bacteria are necessary for digestion, it comes as no surprise that the fewer “good” bacteria you have, the more likely you are to experience digestive issues. Common complaints include diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, IBS, and Crohn’s disease.
Impaired Nutrient Absorption: “Good” gut bacteria are important for getting vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients out of the food you eat. If you have poor gut health, you may not get the calcium you need to keep your bones strong or the zinc and magnesium you need to facilitate hundreds of metabolic processes.
Inflammation: Having too many “bad” bacteria can cause a condition known as leaky gut. Normally, the inside of the intestinal tract is covered with tightly packed villi. When you have leaky gut, the junctions between the villi get bigger and your intestinal lining becomes permeable, allowing partially digested food to pass through into your bloodstream. This triggers an inflammatory response. Inflammation is associated with health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers.
Mood Disorders: Gut health plays a significant role in mood and brain health. For example, healthy gut bacteria can make over 30 neurotransmitters, including serotonin. They can also protect brain cells from being damaged by free radicals, and from inflammatory chemical messengers called cytokines. If you have too many “bad” gut bacteria, toxic byproducts are created that can diminish serotonin, boost the harmful stress hormone cortisol, and contribute to short-term memory loss.
How to Heal Your Digestive System
Clean Up Your Diet: The first step to promoting better gut health is to eliminate or reduce the foods and toxins that are allowing the “bad” bacteria to flourish. This includes cutting out processed foods, sugars, bad fats, caffeine, and alcohol.
Add Probiotics: Probiotics reintroduce “good” bacteria into your digestive system. You can take a supplement such as Renew Youth’s™ Probiotic Plus, as well as incorporate fermented foods into your diet. Fermented foods like kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt (with live cultures) are all excellent natural sources of friendly gut bacteria.
Eat More Prebiotics: To keep your “good” bacteria happy and healthy, you need to feed them. Prebiotic foods contain large amounts of fiber that we can’t digest, but our gut bacteria can. Examples of prebiotic foods include asparagus, bananas, barley, lentils, garlic, onions, and tomatoes.
If you would like to learn more about gut health or if you would like to order Renew Youth’s Probiotic Plus, please contact us today.