The gut is a very complex and diverse part of the human body. While you might think that this involves only your stomach, doctors have found that whatever happens to your gut also affects your overall health, including your mental health, immune system, mood, and even the onset of many autoimmune diseases. Hence, as you take care of your body’s health, you should also strive to provide this level of care to your gut health.
Gut health is a topic on everyone’s lips these days. Research from trustworthy teams, like My Crohn’s And Colitis Team, has shown and continues to show us, just how much various gut problems can affect your overall health.
The term gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines. There are about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria living in your digestive tract. You’ve probably heard before that the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria and other microbes in your microbiome is pretty important, and it’s true. For one to be considered as having good gut health, however, the key is in ensuring that the good bacteria always exceeds that of the bad.
But what exactly are the main causes of poor gut health?
Bad Bacteria/ Gut Dysbiosis
Most bacteria in the gut are beneficial to our health, although some are potentially harmful or pathogenic. Under certain conditions, such as antibiotic use, poor immunity, high sugar diets, etc, the harmful species can begin to grow and outnumber the beneficial flora, leading to a state of dysbiosis.
Intestinal dysbiosis, bacterial and fungal overgrowth, including candida overgrowth, can cause a variety of digestive symptoms, including bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Low Beneficial Bacteria
While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body. Good bacteria help our bodies digest food and absorb nutrients, and they produce several vitamins in the intestinal tract — including folic acid, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12.
Avoiding fast food and replacing it with a diet rich in organic, clean food, with probiotics and prebiotics will help you increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut, contributing to better overall wellbeing and immune function.
If eating a healthy and balanced diet is difficult for you to perform daily because of your hectic lifestyle, choosing to go for probiotic supplements is also a great idea. This can help supply your body with the right amount of good bacteria that it needs to fight off the bad bacteria that your body may now have.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a form of gut dysbiosis affecting the small intestine. SIBO occurs when there are an increase in the number of bacteria, and/or changes in the types of bacteria present in the small intestine.
In most patients, SIBO is not caused by a single type of bacteria but is an overgrowth of the various types of bacteria that should normally be found in the colon. Less commonly, SIBO results from an increase in the otherwise normal bacteria of the small bowel.
Low Stomach Acid
Stomach acid, also referred to as gastric acid, is essential for the digestive process. If your stomach can’t produce enough acid, key minerals and proteins can’t be absorbed into this body. Low stomach acid is medically referred to as hypochlorhydria.
If the body doesn’t receive the necessary nutrients, you can become vitamin or mineral deficient. Stomach acid is also responsible for killing harmful bacteria from foods and neutralizing enzymes. Low gastric acid can leave the body vulnerable to a number of diseases and health complications.
There are a number of contributing factors for low stomach acid. Stress and a poor diet are two of the more common reasons that can directly affect your digestive process.
If you know for a fact that you haven’t been eating a diverse range of food, then your recovery from the harmful influences that your stomach receives is very limited. The key here is to ensure that your gut flora becomes more diverse. You can achieve this through a variety of whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
When it comes to stress, you’d know by now that this can be very hard on your body, including your gut health. Instead of taking more anti-stress medication, go for natural activities that can help lower your stress, such as walking, meditate, have a massage, and also decrease your caffeine intake.
Increased intestinal permeability or hyperpermeability, also known as a leaky gut syndrome, is a digestive condition in which bacteria and toxins leak through the intestinal wall.
Tight gap junctions, (spaces between the single layer of cells in the wall of the small intestine), regulate the number of food particles and nutrients that are passed from the gut and into the bloodstream. In people with a healthy intestinal lining, up to 2 percent of food particles and nutrients will pass through the lining. For people with poor gut health however, large particles that should be contained will pass into their bloodstream.
This process causes inflammation and the large foreign particles that have slipped through the compromised tight gap junctions fire up the immune system.
You can start your journey to good gut health by contacting a Functional Medicine clinic or alternatively, complete a Gut health Questionnaire for a comprehensive online health assessment of your gut health and other associated body systems.
For you to be considered fully healthy, your gut flora has to be healthy. Unfortunately, the stressors of daily life and a poor lifestyle can negatively affect your body’s gut health. Hence, your gut’s health will suffer.
Now that you know these five basic reasons for poor gut health, here’s to hoping that this knowledge helps you avoid these instances so your gut health stays as optimal as it should.