Do you find yourself constantly feeling bloated? Experiencing mood swings? Struggling with skin problems? The answer to all of these issues, plus many more, may lie in your gut.
There are trillions of microbes that live in and on your body. The majority of them reside in your gut, making up what is commonly referred to as the gut microbiome. These microscopic organisms are important to your overall health. Don’t believe us? Let’s take a closer look.
The Basics of The Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome is home to trillions of microbes that reside in your digestive tract. Of course, all those microscopic organisms aren’t the same. Some of them are fungi or other microorganisms, but the vast majority of them are bacteria. Specifically, the human gut microbiome is predominantly composed of four different types of bacteria—Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria.
We know. The thought of having bacteria inside your body seems weird. There’s no reason to worry though. The bacteria in your gut microbiome play an important role in your overall health and wellbeing. They help with digestion, toxin removal, absorption of essential nutrients, and hormone regulation. However, not all the bacteria in your gut are good, and if the harmful bacteria begin to outnumber the helpful ones, known as gut dysbiosis, it can have a negative impact on your health.
What Causes Gut Dysbiosis?
As much as we’d like to believe that having a healthy gut today means it will remain healthy throughout the rest of our lives, that just isn’t the case. The composition of your gut microbiome is constantly changing as new bacteria are produced and others die off. These changes don’t just happen by chance though—they are influenced by our actions. So, what causes an imbalance in your gut? Here are a few of the main culprits.
- Poor diet: The food you choose to fuel your body with is important, especially when it comes to your gut health. The good bacteria in your gut feed off of nutrients like fiber while the harmful bacteria prefer things like sugar. Because of this, if your diet is full of ultra-processed food and sugary drinks, you aren’t doing your gut any favors.
- Lack of physical activity: Physical activity helps your body produce more Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that serves a lot of functions in your body, including helping keep your gut healthy. Research has shown that Butyrate helps with the regulation of many gut cell functions, including digestion and gut tissue development.
- Stress: Your gut and brain are connected by something known as the gut-brain axis. This connection is bidirectional, which simply means that your gut can impact your brain and vice versa. Because of this connection, your brain sends high-alert signals to your gut when you are stressed which can alter the bacterial composition of your gut microbiome in a negative way.
- Antibiotics: Sometimes, when we are exposed to pathogens that make us sick, antibiotics are required to take care of it. However, it’s important to understand that antibiotics don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria—they just kill whatever bacteria that they come in contact with. As a result, antibiotics can reduce the levels of good bacteria in your gut microbiome, which, of course, is less than ideal.
How To Tell If Your Gut Is Healthy
Now that you understand more about the gut microbiome, you may be wondering: how do I know if my gut is healthy? One way is to visit your healthcare provider, who is able to run a test to determine the composition of bacteria in your gut. However, that’s not your only option. Since your gut plays such a large role in the health of the rest of your body, paying attention to your body can give a good idea of how your gut is doing. Here are just a few ways you can determine whether or not your gut needs a little extra care.
Level of Gas and Bloating
Gas and bloating are often caused by an unhappy gut, which means the healthier your gut is, the less you will experience these discomforts. Keep in mind that passing gas is a normal function of the human body, so don’t expect it to never happen. However, if you regularly feel gassy or bloated after your meals, your gut is probably trying to tell you something.
Remember how we said that harmful bacteria love sugar? When those colonies of harmful bacteria are growing, they need more sugar to feed off of. This can cause you to crave high-sugar foods like sweets, bread, fruit, or dairy. The more of these foods you eat, the more fuel you are giving the bad bacteria to grow, leading you to crave more and more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle. If you find yourself craving sugar often, it may be time to give your gut some extra attention.
How often do you think about your poop? Probably not often enough considering it can tell you a lot about your gut. The color, shape, and consistency all give important clues about how your gut is fairing. In general, a healthy gut will produce stool that is medium to dark brown, smooth, soft, and effortlessly sinks to the bottom of the toilet bowl. If you find that your poo doesn’t meet these standards, it’s a good indicator that your gut is out of balance.
Gut Transit Time
Gut transit time refers to two things: how long it takes your body to digest food and how often you have a bowel movement. While everyone is different, it can take an average of 2 to 5 days to digest your food, from the time it enters your mouth to the time the excess leaves your body. When it comes to bowel movements, research suggests that the average adult poops between 3 times a day and 3 times a week. If you fall within this range and your bowel movements are pain-free a majority of the time, your gut is likely doing pretty well.
How To Balance Your Gut Microbiome
As we already discussed, your lifestyle choices can directly impact your gut microbiome. So if you notice that your gut isn’t as healthy as you’d like, here are a few ways you can help it out.
Change your Diet
When trying to improve your gut health, diet is the best place to start as the food you choose to consume has a large impact on your gut health. Cut back on processed foods, especially those with added sugar, and replace them with healthier, whole food options. Including plenty of whole grains as well as fresh fruits and vegetables in your meals will help provide your gut with the fiber and other important nutrients it needs to support colonies of good bacteria.
Enjoy Fermented Foods
Probiotics seed your gut with good bacteria, which is important to help maintain a healthy gut, and you can get them from the food you eat. Fermented foods in particular are known to contain high levels of probiotics. Some of the best foods, in this case, are kimchi, miso, kombucha, and fermented vegetables.
Relax and Exercise
As we mentioned earlier, your activity level and stress levels can directly impact your gut microbiome. To help keep your gut as healthy as possible, start incorporating some more movement and relaxation into your daily routine. This can take any form you want, such as taking a walk in the morning, hitting the gym after work, setting aside time to journal, or meditating before bed. Whatever works for you.
Skip The Antibiotics
For the sake of your gut, try to avoid taking antibiotics whenever possible. We understand that this isn’t always an option though. When we are exposed to harmful pathogens that make us sick, sometimes taking a round of antibiotics may be the only way to kill those pathogens so we can feel better. When that’s the case, consider asking your health care provider about also taking probiotics to help replenish your gut microbiome while the antibiotics do their job.
Turn to Supplements
One of the simplest ways to nourish and support your gut microbiome is with supplements. There are a number of gut health supplements available today. To ensure you are getting the best one possible, pay special attention to the quality, safety certifications, and ingredients. Ideally, you’ll get a safe, high-quality supplement that includes probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to provide your gut with the maximum amount of support possible.
Healthy Gut, Healthy You
You deserve to feel your best, and your gut microbiome plays a big part in that. Nourishing and supporting all the good bacteria in your gut will go a long way in keeping you as happy and healthy as possible. That’s why we created Essentials—our convenient daily gut health pack.
Essentials combines probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and organic Wild Microalgae® into a single daily pack to help provide your gut with the support it needs. And the best part is you can put it to the test risk-free with our 90-day money-back guarantee!
At New Earth we are on a mission to positively impact the health of every body and soul we come in contact with. We specialize in producing third-party certified, organic whole food supplements including a variety of probiotics, and digestive support. Our supplements feature a rare, yet highly nutritious superfood, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Also known as organic Wild Microalgae®, AFA is a unique type of microalgae that is available in many forms including tablets, capsules, and powders all designed to help you on your journey to holistic wellness. The best part? We offer a 90-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all of our products. Visit our website to learn more.