The gut is an interesting part of the body. People usually don’t pay attention to their gut, but it actually makes up a lot of our body. It is made up of organs from our mouth all the way down to our stomach, intestines, and so on. When stretched out, the gut is about 8 meters! The small intestine alone is 6 meters long. How cool is that?
Our gut is responsible for breaking down food and getting the nutrients our body needs. Essentially, the gut is where food passes through, where nutrients are absorbed from the food, and the remaining substances are then excreted.
In our gut are microbiota or good bacteria that help with the digestion. There are actually about 400 species of bacteria living in our intestines to aid the digestive tract in its different processes. The good bacteria also help control the bad or harmful bacteria in your body and gut. Throughout the years, several studies have shown that these bacteria can also help prevent obesity, prevent depression, and improve the immune system. There are even study results that suggest that a good gut is instrumental in preventing a lot of diseases, ranging from arthritis to autoimmune conditions. In essence, the bacteria in your gut helps with your physical and overall health.
Your gut has an intricate harmony to maintain your health. The good bacteria keep the bad bacteria in check and prevent them from proliferating. However, several factors can cause an imbalance. Many causes are associated with this. Examples are lack of sleep, eating a lot of processed or artificial food, eating much sugar, having high stress levels, and even taking certain medications. When there is an imbalance of the bacteria living in your gut, it can cause problems.
How do you know you have a bad gut? The effects are different per person, but generally, everyone has symptoms. Of course, the most common outcome in people are digestive related problems. You can experience more bloating and passing gas. This is caused by the proliferation of some species of bad bacteria that increases fermentation in the stomach. This then traps more amounts of gas in the stomach.
Other digestive problems could be constipation, diarrhea, or both. Constipation can be caused by a decreased amount of the good bacteria species called Bifidobacteria. On the other hand, diarrhea can be caused by an increased amount of bad bacteria species called Clostridium. When the person experiences diarrhea, his or her good bacteria can also be pushed out. With these digestive problems, people with chronic symptoms are more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
Another resulting problem could be food allergies. Food allergies are caused by a leaky gut. The gut is supposed to be a mostly closed system. This means that the things going in and out are limited. When you have a leaky gut, large proteins can now get out of the digestive system. The body’s antibodies in the blood can then detect them and attack them. This leads to an immune response. The food items that trigger this are the food allergies a person can have. These food allergies are also related to Crohn’s disease and other digestive problems.
Surprisingly, a leaky gut has also been associated with autoimmune issues. When the leaky gut has been addressed, usually through diet management and avoidance of triggers, the person’s autoimmune issues also manifest less.
From the stomach issues, we now move to the mouth. Having bad breath of the mouth can be a manifestation of an increase of bad bacteria in the mouth and the gut. This condition is called halitosis. The bacteria responsible for this can also cause gum disease.
Interestingly, having bad skin could be an outcome of gut issues. Researchers have found that the gut has several mechanisms that could affect the skin. The relationship of the skin and the gut is officially called the gut-skin axis. There has been a beneficial relationship shown between good gut health and the prevention or treatment of skin diseases, like acne and different types of dermatitis.
Another gut axis is the gut-brain axis. This is the relationship of the gut and the brain through biochemical signaling. These signals can affect your cognitive abilities, like mood, thinking process, and concentration. It has been shown that improving your gut health can also improve your mental health. On the downside, bad gut health can lead to poor concentration and bad mental health. This can lead to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
The next symptom can be chronic tiredness. Chronic fatigue is caused by abnormal levels of some bacteria in your gut. These abnormal bacteria levels can also affect your body clock, disrupting your circadian rhythm and further causing you tiredness.
Having lower levels of some good bacteria in your gut can also result to weight gain. Studies revealed that obesity can be caused by less bacteria in the gut. These bacteria also influence nutrient absorption and food breakdown in the digestive system.
Bacteria can also cause food cravings. This is because bacteria in the gut can send proteins that mimic the hormones responsible for food regulation. Eating sugar can lead to an overabundance of yeast and bad bacteria in your gut. These bacteria then send signals to your brain leading you to eat more sugar so they can be fed and multiply.
Like said earlier, having less amounts of good bacteria in your gut could let the bad bacteria increase. So, what can you do to improve your gut health? You can start by fixing your diet. This is one of the aspects you can change early on that would be directly beneficial to your gut health. If you eat healthy food and avoid processed food, your gut would proverbially thank you. Eating fiber from fruits and vegetables and other healthy food items would encourage the growth of good bacteria. Eating junk food and sugary treats would feed the bad bacteria, so try to avoid eating them as much as possible. Avoid food allergies as well. Also, exercise! It has been shown that exercise increases good bacteria in your gut. Overall, take care of yourself, and your gut will thank you!