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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Signs You or a Family Member Have Poor Gut Health – and What to Do

A kid of mine recently needed to use antibiotics, which reminded me that I need to work more on our family's gut health. It's a good thing that I recently started making kombucha and kefir again. Read more about why gut health is important and what you can do about it.


During this crazy period of the Corona virus, maintaining well-being is more important than ever. A healthy gut is the key to overall wellness. Having good bacteria function in the tummy boosts the immune system, which will help keep the nasty stuff away.

If you or someone in your family has poor gut health, then you may notice a few problems. If so, it is a great idea to try out microbiome testing, which is affordable and tells you exactly what’s going on. But in the meantime, let's break down what defines poor gut health so you know if you or your family member is suffering from stomach-related issues.


Why is Gut Health So Essential?

When your tummy is healthy, there will be a good balance of microbes (or bacteria) in the gastrointestinal system. This makes sure the body can:

  • Draw and use energy from food
  • Eliminate any toxins in the body
  • Fight off bad bacteria and viruses
  • Create the good mood hormone, serotonin

If there are more bad bacteria in the stomach than good, then a person’s energy levels and general well-being will be a bit off.

Signs You Have Poor Gut Microbes

Symptoms of digestive imbalance include a number of problems that you may not realize are related to gut health. Some are:

  • Digestive problems like bloating, tenderness or discomfort in the tummy, constipation or diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, or even heartburn
  • You may crave sugar a lot
  • Changes in weight for no apparent reason
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep is also an indication of poor gut health
  • You may feel tired a lot or run out of energy quickly
  • A rash on the skin or allergies
  • Autoimmune conditions like diabetes (type 1), rheumatoid arthritis, or problems affecting the thyroid
  • Mood complications like anxiety and depression, even if stress factors are low. This is not solely an indication of poor gut health, but it is a cause worth investigating. If the gut is not functioning properly, it will not make much of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.

If you notice any of these issues in yourself or a loved one, it is best to get in touch with your doctor. Experts advise that you should always talk about your diet and gut health during your routine doctor’s visits to make sure all is well.

If your doctor thinks there is a problem, she or he may help you design a better diet and also prescribe a probiotic to get the good bacteria in your tummy working again.

Causes

Diminished gut health can be caused by factors like:

  • A change of diet that includes more sugar, protein or additives
  • Taking a course of medication such as antibiotics
  • Too much alcohol on a regular basis
  • Poor dental cleanliness – bacteria become unbalanced inside the mouth
  • Consuming chemicals such as pesticides on fruit or vegetables.


How Can I Improve Gut Health for Me or My Family?

To make sure you are allowing your body to sustain its own good gut health, you can:

  • Take out processed food from your diet and go for whole foods like fruit, vegetables, and lean meats that have not been altered in any way
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber like asparagus, apples, corn, flaxseed, lentils, Brussels sprouts, oats, onions, bananas, corn, and even garlic
  • Avoid antibiotics unless you absolutely have to take them. These drugs kill off a lot of your gut bacteria
  • Eat foods that have natural probiotic properties such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut or kombucha. These all have properties that help the process of fermentation in the gut
  • Make sure you drink lots of water to move the digestive process along

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