Written by Precious Ojiaku
The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms collectively known as the ‘gut microbiota’, which are responsible for breaking down foods and the production of essential vitamins and compounds. On that account, maintaining a good gut is crucial for overall well-being as it plays a crucial role in various bodily functions like digestion, immune function, and nutrient absorption.
Poor diet, stress and some medications can negatively compromise gut health resulting in health issues like autoimmune diseases and mental health disorders, if left untreated.
This article discusses the importance of gut health, signs of a bad gut and foods that help improve gut health.
What Is Gut Health?
Gut health is the state of your gastrointestinal tract and the balance of microorganisms that live within it. In short, the gut has a crucial role in a lot of bodily functions such as:
- Nutrients absorption
- And immune function
People underestimate the importance of a healthy gut, but little do they know that a great gut supports mental health and can prevent chronic diseases.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
Trillions of microorganisms reside inside the gut including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Collectively they are known as the ‘gut microbiota’.
These microorganisms are vital as they play an important role by breaking down foods and producing vitamins and other compounds that the human body needs to function optimally. Moreover, it affects mood and behaviour while communicating with your immune system.
When the balance of your gut microbiota has been compromised, it can result in a plethora of health problems. This includes:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Autoimmune diseases
- Mental health disorders i.e. depression or anxiety
Poor diet, antibiotics, stress and particular medications can negatively impact the gut microbiota.
To avoid the abovementioned issues, eat a balanced diet rich in fibre and fermented foods, and keep stress levels to a minimum- avoiding unnecessary medications can help too!
Signs Of A Bad Gut
Symptoms of a bad gut are caused by an imbalance of the gut microbiome, which can occur because of numerous factors. Some include a poor diet, stress, and possibly medication. Therefore, an angry gut can result in a range of problems such as abdominal pains, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhoea, and heartburn. All of which could affect overall health and quality of life.
Studies have shown that a bad gut can also negatively affect one’s mental and cognitive health due to the body’s strong gut-brain connection.
In addition to digestive issues, a bad gut can cause health issues such as headaches, fatigue, skin issues, and mood disorders.
If one is to experience any of the symptoms stated above, it’s possible that the gut may not be functioning optimally.
Foods That Help With Gut Health
Great gut health is influenced by food choices individuals make, implementing certain foods in the diet can significantly improve gut health.
Here are some foods that can help the gut:
1. Fermented foods:
Foods like yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha have bacteria that benefit and maintain a healthy gut microbiota
2. Fibre-rich foods:
Fibre promotes the development of healthy bacteria in the gut, therefore, foods such as fruits and veg, legumes, and whole grains are beneficial.
3. Bone broth:
Bone broth helps support gut health by reducing inflammation; it is very rich in collagen and gelatine which also help support and heal the gut lining.
4. Nuts and seeds:
Like legumes and whole grains, nuts and seeds are also fibre-rich and contain healthy fats; both promoting healthy gut microbiota.
Adding the foods stated above into the diet can help improve gut health, however, it is important to note that a balanced diet is key. Consuming an array of nutrient-dense foods and avoiding processed and sugary foods can promote a happy gut and overall well-being.
Probiotics consist of live microorganisms like yeast and bacteria that have a lot of health benefits when consumed in moderation. The microorganisms found in probiotics are known as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria because they help maintain a good balance of microorganisms in the gut.
Why Are Probiotics Important?
There is a myriad of benefits that probiotics offer, some being:
Restoring the balance of good and bad bacteria. An imbalance of bacteria in the gut is caused by factors such as stress, poor diet and antibiotics.
Probiotics aid digestion which reduces bloating and other digestive issues.
Probiotics can help better the immune system. It stimulates the production of antibodies and immune cells that can ward off antigens.
Lastly, probiotics reduce inflammation in the gut. Inflammation found in the gut can lead to a plethora of health problems if not treated.
To sum up, incorporating probiotics into your routine can significantly improve the microbiome in your gut, which in turn can enhance your overall well-being.
In addition to consuming a balanced diet, taking probiotic supplements can also be helpful. One highly recommended supplement is the Garden Of Life Raw Probiotics Capsules, which offer 34 probiotic strains and have been clinically studied to replenish the good bacteria lost.
It’s worth noting that not all probiotics are created equal, and various strains can have different effects on the body. Therefore, seeking advice from a healthcare professional to identify the best probiotic supplement or food sources that align with an individual’s needs is essential.
Prebiotics cannot be digested in the body, they are a type of fibre that instead pass through the digestive system and help the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
There are a variety of foods containing prebiotics including garlic, onions, bananas, oats etc. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in the gut which prevents harmful bacteria from developing. As such, they are important for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
An adequate intake of prebiotic-rich foods can improve digestion and reduce the risk of diseases.
Why Are Prebiotics Useful?
Regularly consuming prebiotics can support the gut microbiota as it improves digestion, enhances immune function, and reduces the risk of certain diseases like type 2 diabetes. These indigestible fibres help the beneficial bacteria flourish, which is great for good digestion.
Studies have indicated that prebiotics can better cognitive function and mood by promoting the production of neurotransmitters in the gut.
There are a lot of plant-based foods that are dense in prebiotics such as:
All of which feed the good bacteria, helping them to thrive.
As mentioned, eating prebiotic-rich foods is an exceptional way to repair and maintain a healthy gut; pairing that with supplements rich in prebiotics is a good addition too.
The Garden Of Life Dr Formulated Organic Fibre is a good source of prebiotics as it contains 5 grams worth, per serving. It offers a rich source of prebiotic fibre derived from five organic superfoods including acacia, orange peel, apple peel, cranberry fruit, and baobab fruit.
With the proven absence of nasty GMOs, it makes it a healthy and safe option for individuals seeking to maintain or better their gut microbiome.
Gut health is an imperative aspect of overall well-being that a lot of people overlook. A happy gut promotes nutrient absorption, adequate immune function, and mental health, and has even been proven to prevent chronic diseases. Contrarily, poor diet, stress and medications can compromise the gut microbiota, resulting in various health issues long-term.
Consuming nutrient-dense foods like nuts, seeds, fish, and fermented foods, alongside pro and prebiotic foods and supplements can significantly improve gut health.
Ensuring to take care of and maintain a healthy gut will benefit the whole body in the long run.