How to recognise an unhealthy gut?
Many health issues have been linked to problems in the gut – ranging from digestive issues, to food allergies or sensitivities, mood issues, skin issues and more serious health issues such as diabetes and autoimmune disease. Recognising the symptoms of an unhealthy gut and implementing a positive change to improve your lifestyle is essential to your overall wellbeing.
The health of your digestive system is generally controlled by the amount and types of bacteria it contains (the microbiome), and an overgrowth of bad bacteria leads to an imbalance. This is known as ‘gut dysbiosis’ and can result in some of these health issues. The microbiome affects the body’s vitamin and mineral production and absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, energy production, immune response and ability to protect against and eliminate toxins.
The types of bacteria we have in our gut are influenced by everything that we eat and do. For example, different colonies of bacteria have been found in those consuming high sugar diets compared with those on a more natural, plant-based diet. Research has also shown that there is a difference in the types of gut bacteria found in those with depressive disorders compared to those without and in obese individuals compared with those of normal weight.
Symptoms of an unhealthy gut
- low mood/depression
Healing an unhealthy gut with the 4 Rs
The standard protocol that nutritional therapists use to support and balance the digestive system is known as the 4Rs – Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, Repair – which involves the following:
Remove problematic foods and toxins from the diet – this can include caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, bad fats and other foods that might be causing issues, such as gluten and dairy.
Replace the essential ingredients required for proper digestion and absorption, including digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acids.
Reinoculate by restoring the balance of bacteria in the gut. This can be achieved by introducing good bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria through a probiotic supplement. Prebiotic foods can also help to feed the population of good bacteria to help restore balance.
Repair the gut by eating an unprocessed diet and including nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, L-glutamine and antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium).
Other ways to improve the health of your gut
In addition to looking after your gut health from a nutrition perspective, here are 4 lifestyle tips to promote a healthy gut:
- Manage stress – High levels of stress have a negative impact on your entire body, including your gut. Meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, diffusing essential oils, reducing caffeine intake, laughing, yoga, or owning a pet are all healthy strategies to reduce stress.
- Keep well hydrated – Each day, aim to drink 1.5-2 litres of water or herbal teas. Without adequate hydration, constipation can quickly set in. This then leads to bloating and discomfort.
- Give your digestion a rest – Allow four hours between meals if possible. Taking time between meals to allow your gut to fully digest and absorb one meal before moving on to the next can make a significant difference in how you feel. You could also include a 12-hour overnight fast – avoiding late night snacks and delaying breakfast slightly in the morning can often make this possible.
- Find time to exercise – A 30-minute walk or a gentle yoga session can be a great way to help move foods through your digestive system, with the added bonus of calming your mind and reducing stress!
The good news is that there are plenty of things that can be done to start healing your gut if you have any of the symptoms or health issues listed above. Try the 4R protocol, working with a registered nutritional therapist if you would like further help and support, and try to build in the four lifestyle changes to your day.
Want to know more?
ProVen Probiotics aim to provide the best support for both you and your health. If you wish to know more about gut health, please do not hesitate to call us on 01639 825107 or alternatively, learn more via our blogs or in-depth ProVen research.
ProVen Probiotics, Unit 2 Christchurch Road, Baglan Industrial Park, Port Talbot, SA12 7DJ. Tel: 01639 825107