What does the gut consist of?
The gut refers to your gastrointestinal (GI) system, which consists of a long hollow winding tube that starts from your mouth and travels all the way through your digestive system. The health of this system generally depends on the types and levels of bacteria found in your digestive system. Maintaining a healthy gut may lead to many health benefits, including reduced inflammation and lower chance of obesity or cancer.
What are some of the most common gut issues?
A healthy gut means that there is more good bacteria than there is bad bacteria in your system. Bad bacteria, which can sometimes overtake the good, causes symptoms and illnesses such as:
Gastroesophegal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD occurs when stomach acid repeatedly flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. While it’s common for people to experience acid reflux and heartburn once in a while, having these symptoms regularly could indicate that you are experiencing GERD.
Gallstones are hard, pebble-like pieces of material, usually made of cholesterol or bile, that form in your gallbladder. Medication can sometimes work to remove gallstones, but in extreme cases they have to be surgically removed.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel Syndrome is more common than most other gut health issues, affecting more than 15% of the worldwide population. What causes IBS isn’t known, but symptoms can vary widely, from having hard, dry stools one day to loose, watery stools another; bloating and gassiness, and severe stomach pain after meals.
Other inflammatory bowel diseases include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease which affects the lining of the digestive system causing sores and ulcers.
It’s important to consult your doctor when you frequently experience irregular bowel movements, pain with diarrhea, or blood in your stool as these may indicate underlying gut health issues that need urgent attention.
Signs & Symptoms of Bad Gut Health
If you experience any discomfort in your abdominal area such as, frequent bowel discomfort, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, or heartburn, these could be signs that your gut is having a hard time processing food and eliminating waste. If you constantly feel tired and fatigued this may indicate a possible imbalance in your gut.
How can I repair and maintain my gut health?
You may be able to help improve your gut health through various lifestyle and diet changes. If you’re considering maintaining or repairing your gut, you could try the following:
- Eating healthy: Eating food rich in fibre, like wholegrains and certain fruits and vegetables, is beneficial for gut health. Avoid eating too much sugar and processed foods as these eliminate the good bacteria and may trigger symptoms of gut illnesses.
- Exercise often: Consider walking and having regular massages as this helps promote an increase in diversity of healthy bacteria.
- Consider a probiotic supplement to help support your GI system: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for recommendations.
- Limit your alcohol intake: Repeated alcohol intake is linked to gastritis that inflames the gut which can lead to heartburn, chronic discomfort, and bacterial infections.
- Reduce stress levels: Research suggests anxiety and depression are affected by the gut and vice versa. Find ways to manage your mental health and get your body back in balance.
Neglecting your GI health could lead to the onset of a variety of acute and chronic medical problems. Most people don’t realise that the gut plays a huge role in the health and well-being of our bodies as it is a key player in the body’s immune system. Over 70% of your immune cells reside in the gut, which is why it is vital to keep it healthy and functioning at optimal level.