Gut health entails the functions of major organs working together to properly digest food and balance good bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract. The organs involved are the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. These major organs help digest food without discomfort. Unfortunately, digestive diseases are common, so discomfort within the gastrointestinal tract can happen. That is why it is beneficial to learn what gut health hacks can help prevent digestive diseases.

Why Should We Pay Attention to Our Gut Health?

All food is ultimately broken down in the gut to a simple form that can enter the bloodstream and be delivered as nutrients throughout our bodies. This is only possible with a healthy digestive system.

A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria, and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being.

What Are Symptoms of Gut Health Problems?

Everyone at some point experiences digestive problems such as abdominal pain, bloating, loose stools, constipation, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting. When symptoms are consistent, it may be a sign of an underlying problem that needs medical attention.

Weight loss without a good reason, blood in the stool, black stool (a sign of bleeding in the gut), severe vomiting, fever, severe stomach aches, trouble swallowing food, pain in the throat or chest when food is swallowed, or jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes), could potentially indicate an underlying gastrointestinal problem with a very serious cause. Consult your doctor if any of these symptoms occur.

What Are Gut-Health Friendly Foods?

There are prebiotic foods that are great for gut health. They are nutrient-packed and beneficial for your gut. When you eat prebiotic foods, you are helping feed the good bacteria in your gut and keep it balanced. You also get a lot of fiber from these foods. Some gut-healthy-friendly foods are asparagus, bananas, leeks, oats, onions, and garlic.

How to Maintain Good Gut Health.

It’s best to follow a balanced diet, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and get a good night’s sleep—basically all the things you need to do for overall health. Staying healthy will help you maintain a healthy gut.

Like the other functions of your body, smoking, drinking, and medications can harm the good bacteria in your body. It’s important to stay away from those things and talk to your doctor about a healthy diet for yourself.

It’s also important to get the recommended amount of fiber—20 to 40g a day, depending on your age and gender. Things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are common sources of healthy fiber that can be added to your diet.

Should I Take Probiotics?

Probiotics have numerous health claims about what these “good bacteria” can do for the average person’s health and wellness. We’ve learned through clinical studies that probiotics may be able to help ward off disease-causing microorganisms, aid digestion, help us absorb nutrients, improve immune function, and reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including constipation and diarrhea.

Some studies suggest probiotics can even help keep allergies and eczema in check, prevent vaginal and urinary tract infections, prevent pouchitis, and maintain remission of ulcerative colitis. They may also improve health outcomes for those with major chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes.

What Else Should I Know About Gut Health?

Linked to Mental Health: If you have a mental health condition like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, it may manifest itself through more than just your emotions or mood. It may also affect how your gut behaves. Many people who experience mental health struggles may find that flare-ups also trigger their gut to become upset.

Exercise helps: Exercise impacts every aspect of your health, including your gut. Regular physical activity can make digestion and nutrient distribution much more efficient. It can also help reduce the number of toxins and bad microbes in your body while helping balance out the healthy microbes.

Self-Care Helps Gut Health: Self-care activities are often a way that people unwind from busy lives and allow themselves to pay attention to their own health. Many activities that people do to accomplish this can have positive impacts on gut health, such as:

- Getting a proper amount of sleep

- Drinking lots of water

- Savoring and eating food slowly (which helps with digestion)

- Practicing mindful behaviors like meditation and artistic expression

- Managing anxiety and depression conditions with various forms of therapy and/or medicine

Reduce Risk of Disease: Studies have shown that taking care of your gut can also help with preventing negative health conditions from developing, or can help combat them. Careful nutritional management is known to help prevent and treat conditions like diabetes. Keeping your immune system healthy by nourishing your gut can also help prevent or treat autoimmune disorders.

7 Ways to Know Your Gut is Unhealthy.

There are many natural ways that your gut tells you it is unhappy/unhealthy. A few examples come from high stress, not enough sleep, and eating processed foods. Your gut’s microbiome is getting damaged, but there are also natural ways to turn that diagnosis around.

Keep in mind that with an unhealthy gut you are also susceptible to other health problems, such as damage to the brain, heart, immune system, and hormone levels.

Here are 7 ways to know that your gut is unhappy/unhealthy:

  1. Upset Stomach

Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. A balanced gut will have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste, and will have more resilience.

       2.    High Sugar Diet

A diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which can damage your gut still further. High amounts of refined sugars, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, have been linked to increased inflammation in the body.

       3.  Drastic Weight Changes

Gaining or losing weight without making changes to your diet or exercise habits may be a sign of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat.

       4. Disruptive Sleep Cycles

An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep, and therefore lead to chronic fatigue. The majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. So gut damage can impair your ability to sleep well.

       5.  Skin Irritation

Skin conditions like eczema may be related to a damaged gut. Inflammation in the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, which can, in turn, irritate the skin and cause conditions such as eczema.

       6.   Autoimmune Conditions

Medical researchers are continually finding new evidence of the impact of the gut on the immune system. It’s thought that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system. This can lead to autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.

       7.   Food Intolerances

Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods (this is different than a food allergy, which is caused by an immune system reaction to certain foods). It’s thought that food intolerances may be caused by the poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting the trigger foods and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea.

5 Ways to Fix Your Gut Health.

  1. Lower Stress Levels

Having unwanted stress isn’t good for your body as a whole. It is important to try and keep your stress to a minimum because it can affect your gut health based on the chemicals that are released into your body due to a lot of stress.

       2.   Get a Good Night's Sleep

It’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Interrupted sleep can cause your gut to be imbalanced and this will result in even worse sleep.

      3.   Eat Slowly

Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. This may help you reduce digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut.

      4. Know YOUR gut health status

At Index Health, we believe in testing, not guessing.  We also believe that you deserve a plan that is uniquely created for you.  This is why we utilize the most advanced PCR-based gut health testing, that delivers insights about your digestion, your amount of gut inflammation, the microbiome status, and also the metabolic status of the gut.  

      5.   Exercise

Exercise has actually been shown to impact the neighborhood of the gut (the microbiome), specifically leading to higher gut microbial diversity, shifted toward bacterial species involved in amino acid biosynthesis and carbohydrate/fiber metabolism, consequently producing key metabolites like short-chain fatty acids.

How Can Index Health Help?

Experience our gut health program with three easy steps to help you get on the right track. We start with a comprehensive discussion about your current health concerns, your health goals, and your timeline of health.  Based on that, we discuss what unique tests would give us the necessary information.

The lab tests & screening tell us how your body’s digestive system is working, exactly what nutrient requirements your body has, and what levels of inflammation are present in your gut.

Lastly, you’ll get ongoing support including retesting and refining the personalized nutrition and supplement plan for personal preferences, while addressing key areas of identified needs.

Our gut health program covers things like IBS, SIBO, Dysbiosis, food sensitivities, Crohn’s/Ulcerative Colitis, Acid reflux/GERD symptoms, bacterial and fungal infections. Learn more to work with our team!