There are a lot of things that can affect your gut health. Diet, food intolerances, lifestyle, hormones, sleep, stress, and medications will affect your body’s ability to digest the food you eat.
Gut health problems are becoming more common. Bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammation, reflux, and constipation are just some symptoms affecting and lowering people’s quality of life.
I’ve put together my best tips on how to improve gut health naturally based on studies that have been done and on my personal journey to better gut health.
Treat gut health issues & improve gut health with functional medicine.
Functional medicine is a branch of medicine that takes a systems-oriented approach to health, focusing on the whole person rather than just symptoms. It looks at how all the systems in the body work together and how they are affected by diet, lifestyle, and environment.
Practitioners use various tools to assess gut health, including stool, breath, and blood tests, and consider the person’s medical history and symptoms.
How to improve gut health usually include treatment of gut health issues with functional medicine such as dietary changes, probiotics, and supplements. Functional medicine practitioners treat common gut health issues which are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and leaky gut syndrome.
If you are struggling with gut health issues, functional medicine may be able to help. Talk to a functional medicine practitioner today to learn more about how this approach can improve your gut health.
Best foods for gut health
Foods are high in fiber, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods help keep the digestive system healthy by promoting regularity and preventing constipation. Other gut-friendly foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso. Probiotic-rich foods like these help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, which is essential for gut health.
In addition to fiber and probiotics, other nutrients essential for gut health include prebiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods like garlic, onions, bananas, and oats are high in prebiotics. They help feed the good bacteria in the gut and promote a healthy gut microbiome. Antioxidants help protect the gut from inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the gut.
When it comes to gut health, what you eat is just as important as what you don’t eat. Foods high in sugar, fat, and processed carbohydrates can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and lead to inflammation. These foods should be limited when trying to maintain a healthy gut.
Common gut issues
Common gut issues that can be treated with functional medicine include SIBO, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, and chronic constipation. By addressing the root cause of these conditions, functional medicine can provide relief from symptoms and help improve overall gut health. If you are suffering from any of these gut issues, consider seeking a functional medicine practitioner to help you find relief.
Gut and the immune system
Your immune system and gut are intimately connected. 70-80% of your immune system is located in your gut!
This makes sense when you think about it – after all, your gut is constantly exposed to potential pathogens (germs) from the food you eat. If these pathogens were to make their way into your bloodstream, they could make you very sick.
Fortunately, your gut has several mechanisms to protect you from these pathogens. For example, stomach acid is secreted when you eat many of the pathogens ingested with food.
In addition, the gut is lined with a layer of cells called epithelial cells. These cells produce several substances that have antimicrobial activity, such as defensins and secretory IgA.
In addition to these physical barriers, the gut is also home to a large population of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.). These microbes play an essential role in protecting the gut from pathogens.
Gut and brain connection
The gut-brain connection is a two-way street. Not only does the brain influence gut function, but the gut also plays a role in brain function. This is because the vagus nerve connects the gut and brain.
The vagus nerve relays information between the brain and the gut. This means the brain can be affected when the gut is upset, and vice versa.
The gut-brain connection has a significant impact on mood and anxiety. For example, studies have shown that probiotics (friendly bacteria that live in the gut) can help reduce stress and depression.
There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that the gut microbiome (the community of bacteria that live in the gut) plays a role in mental health. Studies have shown that people with depression and anxiety tend to have different gut microbiomes than people without these conditions.
So, if you’re feeling down or anxious, it may be worth paying attention to your gut health. Probiotics, prebiotics (food for probiotics), and other gut-friendly foods may help to improve gut function and mood.
What is a leaky gut, and how can it affect you?
Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition in which the lining of the intestine becomes damaged, allowing bacteria and toxins to “leak” through into the bloodstream. This can lead to several health problems, including inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune disease.
Several factors can contribute to a leaky gut, including stress, poor diet, and certain medications. It can affect otherwise healthy people, whilst it is often seen only as a problem in people with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease.
If you think you have a leaky gut, you must see a doctor or other healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for a leaky gut, but there are several things you can do to improve your gut health.
Some of the most important things you can do for your gut are to have a healthy diet, reduce stress, and get enough sleep. Probiotics, supplements, and certain medications may also help treat leaky gut.