Having a Healthy Gut Is the Key to Overall Health & Optimal Well-Being
By Guest Author, Jennifer Landis
Think back to the last time you had a stomach ache. Was it the only symptom you experienced? Chances are, you also felt fatigued and sluggish. You might have had a headache or backache, too.
Your intestinal health influences the way your entire body works. Researchers discover more about the gut-body connection each day. They understand that what happens in your tummy can impact other areas of the body.
Discover why you should take care of your digestive system and improve your overall well-being.
1. Gut Health and Diabetes Risk
Did you know that more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes? While you can’t do much about Type 1, your gut health influences whether you develop Type 2.
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic investigated the impact of bariatric surgery on Type 2 diabetes.
They found the procedure increased the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin by five times. This improvement is a result of changes in the gut, which trigger the pancreas to create the substance.
While you may not need bariatric surgery if you’re carrying extra weight, improving intestinal health could minimize your risk of developing the disorder.
2. Gut Health and Obesity
The mechanisms in which gut health govern obesity parallel those seen in Type 2 diabetes. To improve your intestinal health, try to shed excess pounds. Overly restrictive diets often backfire, so instead, try to manage your weight by making nutritious substitutions, such as:
Black Beans for Flour
Are you whipping up a batch of brownies? Substitute a cup of black beans for a cup of flour. Why? The added fiber improves your intestinal health, and turns the recipe gluten-free, perfect for those with dietary restrictions.
Zucchini for Noodles
Zucchini has fewer calories per serving than traditional pasta. It tastes every bit as delicious with marinara sauce, and it will help reduce your caloric intake.
Flaxseed for Bread Crumbs
Flaxseeds are fiber powerhouses. Plus, they provide a healthy serving of omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial to overall well-being. Why not make Flaxseed Bread? Delicious!
3. Gut Health and Inflammation
Your gut microbiome is a balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria. When specific germs proliferate, inflammation results. Researchers believe that particular gut microbes cause inflammation in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In particular, they pinpoint Ruminococcus gnavus, a bug found in patients with the disorder.
A diet high in fatty foods increases levels of Ruminococcus gnavus. Therefore, reducing your intake can calm inflammation.
4. Gut Health and the Immune System
Your gut microbiome communicates with your immune system to tell it how to behave. When you ingest a substance that feeds harmful bacteria, your gut sends a message to trigger an inflammatory response.
As a result of pain signals traveling up the vagus nerve, the longest of your 12 cranial nerves, you might feel under the weather without knowing why. You could blame the latest bug circulating the office, but you should point to your lunch.
To strengthen your gut-immune response, eat a variety of plant-based and probiotic-rich foods. Try to avoid ultra-processed options, opting instead for meals served as nature intended.
5. Gut Health and the Brain
If you have migraines, you know you experience more than a headache when you have an attack. The disorder often causes gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Some sufferers experience diarrhea or constipation.
Researchers believe that signals from the gut sent up the vagus nerve may play a role in migraine attacks. Your intestines could trigger a pain response when you eat something that disagrees with you. Many physicians recommend migraine patients try an elimination diet to identify problematic foods.
6.Gut Health and Emotions
When you feel nervous, have you ever said, “I had a gut feeling something was wrong?” Your gut and your emotions are intricately linked. Signals from your brain can impact your GI tract, which is why you feel nauseous before a big presentation.
Likewise, digestive problems could increase the pain signals sent from your gut to your brain, increasing anxiety levels. Chronic pain patients who attended psychological treatments for stress saw a more significant reduction in pain levels.
7. Gut Health and the Heart
Your gut microbiome can impact your blood pressure, which affects your risk of cardiovascular disease. Some researchers believe using prebiotics and probiotics can lower blood pressure naturally.
Prebiotics are a dietary fiber that acts as a fertilizer for good bacteria.
Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria found in yogurt and fermented foods like tempeh. Fiber-rich foods include whole grains, but exercise caution if you’re sensitive to gluten. You can also find fiber in many vegetables like sweet potatoes and artichokes.
A Healthy Gut Is Crucial for Optimal Health!
Your intestines may hold the key to your overall health. By eating a low-fat, fiber-rich diet and adding probiotics, you can look and feel your best.