How An Unhealthy Gut Affects Your Overall Health
The gastrointestinal tract is important to human health: It transports food from the mouth to the stomach, converts it into nutrients to be absorbed and stored energy, and transfers waste back out of the body. If we don’t nourish ourselves, we don’t live. It is simple.
Or is it?
In recent years, Scientists have discovered that the GI system has an even bigger, more complex job that previously appreciated. Our GI tract has been linked to numerous aspects of health that have seemingly nothing to do with digestion, ranging from immunity to emotional stress to chronic illness.
The GI tract is filled with trillions of bacteria that not only help us process food, but also help maintain homeostasis (stability or balance within the body) and overall well-being. Experts reckon that the key may lie in the microbiome – the makeup of bacteria and other microorganisms in our gut.
Why is gut health important?
Everyone’s microbiome is unique. In healthy people, there is a diverse array of organisms. But in an unhealthy individual, there is much less diversity, and there seems to be an increase of bacteria associated with illnesses. Numerous studies in the past two decades have demonstrated links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions and even cancer.
The makeup of gut bacteria also varies between lean and overweight people, suggesting that it may play a role in causing obesity.
Signs of an unhealthy gut
Many facets of modern life such as high stress levels, not getting enough sleep, a diet rich in processed and high-sugar foods, can all damage our gut microbiome. This, in turn, may affect other aspects of our health, such as the brain, heart, immune system, skin, weight, hormone levels, ability to absorb nutrients, etc.
There are many ways an unhealthy gut might manifest itself. Here are some of the common signs:
1. An upset stomach
Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. A balanced gut will have less difficulty in processing food and eliminating waste.
2. A high-sugar diet
A diet high in processed foods and sugar can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which damage the gut even further. High amounts of refined sugars, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, have been linked to increased inflammation in the body, which is a precursor to a number of diseases and even cancer.
3. Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue
An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep, therefore leading to chronic fatigue. Majority of serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. So gut damage can impair your ability to sleep well.
4. Unintentional weight gain or loss
Gaining or losing weight without making changes to your diet or exercise habits may be signs of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut can impair the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar and store fat. Weight loss may be caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), while weight gain may be caused by insulin resistance or the urge to overheat due to a decrease in nutrient absorption.
What can you do to improve gut health?
1. Lower your stress levels
Chronic high levels of stress are hard on the whole body, including your gut. Try meditation, a short stroll in the evening, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, or exercising.
2. Get enough sleep
Insufficient quality of sleep can have serious impacts on gut health, which can contribute to more sleep issues. Try to prioritise getting at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
3. Eat slowly
Chewing food thoroughly and eating meals slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. This may help to reduce digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut.
4. Change your diet
Reducing the amount of processed, high-sugar and high-fat food that you eat can contribute to better gut health.
5. Take a probiotic/prebiotic supplement
Probiotics are live good bacteria, while prebiotics are “food” for probiotics and help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods and dietary supplements. Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful, many are actually helpful. Some bacteria help digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, or produce vitamins. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are similar to those that naturally live in our bodies.
Lactobacillus in Yogurt
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics aren’t the same as probiotics, they act as food for probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible and they go through the small intestine undigested and are fermented when they reach the large colon. This fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria, like the probiotic bacteria, and helps increase the number of desirable bacteria in our gut. Prebiotic fibre exists in foods like bananas, onions and garlic, the skin of apples, etc. They are also readily available in pill form as a supplement.
NutriLife provides two options for probiotics.
Containing 4 probiotics strains (Bifidobacterium Longum, Bifidobacterium Infantis, Bifidobacterium Acidolphilus and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus) and 2 prebiotics strains to help maintain the body’s natural defences, support healthy digestive system and strengthen gastrointestinal flora. Bifidobacterium Infantis also helps alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
They are contained in gastro-protected capsules and micro-granules, ensuring that the probiotics are well protected from stomach acid, heat and other elements that can potentially kill these good bacteria.
They are suitable for adults and children above 3 years old.
Take 1-2 tables a day in the morning with a glass of lukewarm water.
Nutribiotics Digestive Balance
For those who find it hard to swallow pills, Nutribiotics Digestive Balance comes in a powder form enclosed in a sachet.
With the same 4 beneficial strains of probiotics, and 1 strain of prebiotics (Inulin) as well as beneficial minerals of magnesium and potassium to maintain a healthy gut.
Magnesium helps to relax the muscles within the digestive tract, including the intestinal wall, which improves digestion as well as counterbalances stomach acids and advances stools through the intestine. Potassium helps relay signals from the brain to muscles located in the digestive system. These signals stimulate contractions that help the digestive system churn and propel food so it can be digested. When contractions in the digestive system become weak, it slows the movement of food which may cause problems like bloating and constipation. Thus the inclusion of magnesium and potassium is beneficial for those who suffer from constipation and bloating.
They are suitable for adults and children above 3 years old, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Take 1 sachet mixed in cool water in the morning. You may choose to mix with fruit juice as well, but it is not necessary.
Do you suffer from a poor digestive system? Try Nutribiotics today for a healthier gut, mind and body!
Nutribiotics Probiotics and Prebiotics Supplement, and Nutribiotics Digestive Balance (Powdered Sachet) are retailing at local pharmacies such as Guardian, Watsons and Unity stores. Also available for purchase online at www.colorplay.com.sg.