All disease begins in the gut. This is the statement that we must have in our minds whenever we have some health problems. Gut health is critical to overall health. How to restore gut health? There are many ways of doing this, we will try to introduce some of them, here.
An unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, autism, depression, and anxiety.
Many researchers today claim that supporting intestinal health and restoring the integrity of the gut barrier are two of the most important goals of medicine in the 21st century.
At one time, our digestive system was considered a relatively “simple” body system, comprised essentially of one long tube for our food to pass through, be absorbed, and then excreted.
The term “gut microbiome” refers specifically to the microorganisms living in your intestines. A person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body.
These microbes aren’t just passively living their lives; they have a profound impact on our health. Within the GI tract, gut microbes promote peristalsis (the movement of food through the intestines), protect against infection, produce vitamins, and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal mucous layer.
Outside the digestive tract, gut microbes influence other organs and tissues through neural networks and signaling molecules. Through these complex communication networks, gut microbes regulate 70 to 80 percent of the immune system and influence blood sugar control. They also modulate the function of the brain, bone, heart, skin, eyes, and muscle tissue.
When the gut microbiome is disrupted, processes normally regulated by the gut microbiota, such as immunity and brain function, are impaired. This ultimately may lead to the development of chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease, metabolic dysfunction, and mental health issues, among many other health problems.
Signs of an unhealthy gut
1. Upset stomach
Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. A balanced gut will have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste.
2. A high-sugar diet
A diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which can damage your gut still further. High amounts of refined sugars, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, have been linked to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be the precursor to several diseases and even cancers.
3. Unintentional weight changes
Gaining or losing weight without making changes to your diet or exercise habits may be a sign of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Weight loss may be caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), while weight gain may be caused by insulin resistance or the urge to overeat due to decreased nutrient absorption.
4. Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue
An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep and therefore lead to chronic fatigue. The majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. So gut damage can impair your ability to sleep well. Some sleep disturbances have also been linked to risk for fibromyalgia.
5. Skin irritation
Skin conditions like eczema may be related to a damaged gut. Inflammation in the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, which can, in turn, irritate the skin and cause conditions such as eczema.
6. Autoimmune conditions
Medical researchers are continually finding new evidence of the impact of the gut on the immune system. It’s thought that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system. This can lead to autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.
7. Food intolerances
Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods (this is different than a food allergy, which is caused by an immune system reaction to certain foods). It’s thought that food intolerances may be caused by the poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting the trigger foods and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. There is some evidence that food allergies may also be related to gut health.
Things you can do to restore gut health
1. Lower your stress levels
Chronic high levels of stress are hard on your whole body, including your gut. Some ways to lower stress may include meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, diffusing essential oils, decreasing caffeine intake, laughing, yoga, or having a pet.
2. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough or sufficient quality of sleep can have serious impacts on your gut health, which can, in turn, contribute to more sleep issues. Try to prioritize getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Your doctor may be able to help if you have trouble sleeping.
3. Eat slowly
Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. This may help you reduce digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Staying hydrated is a simple way to promote a healthy gut.
5. Take a prebiotic or probiotic
Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet may be a great way to improve your gut health. Prebiotics provide “food” meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live good bacteria.
People with bacterial overgrowths, such as SIBO, should not take probiotics. Not all probiotic supplements are of high quality or will provide benefits. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider when choosing a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to ensure the best health benefit.
6. Check for food intolerances
If you have symptoms such as cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux, you may be suffering from food intolerance. You can try eliminating common trigger foods to see if your symptoms improve. If you can identify food or foods that are contributing to your symptoms, you may see a positive change in your digestive health by changing your eating habits.
7. Change your diet
Reducing the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods that you eat can contribute to better gut health. Additionally, eating plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein can positively impact your gut. A diet high in fiber has been shown to contribute tremendously to the healthy gut microbiome.
Types of food that can help to restore gut health
Avoiding processed foods, high-fat foods, and foods high in refined sugars is extremely important to maintaining a healthy microbiome, as these foods destroy good bacteria and promote the growth of damaging bacteria. There are also several foods you can eat that actively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, contributing to your overall health. These foods include:
1. High-fiber foods
High-fiber foods such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, and leeks have shown a positive impact on gut health in numerous studies.
2. Garlic and onion
Garlic and onion may have some anti-cancer and immune system-enhancing properties based on various studies, which are closely tied to some of the primary functions of the gut. Some of these benefits are anecdotal, although some research has been done.
3. Fermented foods
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kefir are great dietary sources of probiotics. While the quality of these foods may vary, their benefits on the gut microbiome are well studied.
4. Collagen-boosting foods
Collagen-rich foods such as bone broth and salmon may be beneficial to overall health and gut health specifically. Many of these benefits are anecdotal conclusions and further research could be done. You could also try to boost your body’s collagen production through foods. Try adding a variety of foods, like mushrooms, good dairy, or certain meats.
Finding natural methods to heal the gut can help you get relief from a wide range of distressing symptoms. Find out how to support a healthy gut through diet and lifestyle.
Conclusion: How to restore gut health? This question is not very simple to answer. From all mentioned above the first steps that must be taken for better gut health are changing diet and lifestyle. More healthy food, less stress and be active.
References: chriskresser.com healthline.com