Your gut interacts with almost all of your body's cells. It affects everything from your digestion to your brain to your immune system. When your gut is healthy, the rest of your body happily hums along. On the other hand, when your gut is inflamed or damaged, it can cause tremendous problems. When things go awry, the harmful bacteria can take over the good, leading to unhealthy intestines (also called gut dysbiosis), which can have a negative effect on the rest of your body.
Your gut, along with yeast and viruses, is home to trillions of bacteria. These micro-organisms are collectively called your gut microbiome.
Even though every microbiome shares some similar characteristics, vast differences also exist. Gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., says, "you are one-of-a-kind with a gut microbiome as unique as a fingerprint."
A weakened digestive system's symptoms go far beyond irritable bowel syndrome and the obvious; constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and bloating. And if it's true that all illness starts in the gut, what are the less visible warning signs that yours is out of balance?
1. Skin Inflammation And Acne
Popular skincare products are often recommended for eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other inflammatory skin problems, but a poorly functioning gut is to blame in many cases.
Your gut communicates directly with your skin through what's termed the gut-skin axis. This relationship plays a role in your skin's homeostasis and inflammatory responses, keeping your skin clear and healthy. Your skin also has a microbiome, and the bacteria in your gut has a direct effect on your skin's bacterial balance. An imbalance within your stomach can cause skin problems.
2. Chronic fatigue
Research shows that individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome are experiencing abnormal levels of certain types of gut bacteria. Having an unhealthy gut and chronic fatigue are so strongly connected that one study estimates that only looking at their gut bacteria could diagnose 80% of people with chronic fatigue. Circadian rhythms have been negatively affected by an unhealthy gut. It can lead to insomnia and leave you feeling overly tired during the day.
The relation between autoimmunity and the gut extends beyond certain autoimmune disorders with symptoms directly connected to the digestive system, such as Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, and Coeliac Disease. The new research and medical knowledge point to the health of our gut lining as an integral factor for the treatment of all autoimmune diseases. Yes, all autoimmune conditions.
Dr. Alessio Fasano, a world-renowned autoimmune disease specialist, has identified how autoimmunity develops. According to him, autoimmunity requires three components to be present before an autoimmune disorder develops. These components are genetic predisposition, environmental triggers, and intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
The body can adequately protect itself against the danger from these environmental stimuli without a leaky gut. And given that you can't do much about your genes or the environment in which we live, the best chance you'll have to avoid an autoimmune condition is to ensure you have healthy intestines.
4. Poor concentration
Your gut releases neurotransmitters associated explicitly with mood, emotions, and other cognitive skills, such as focus. Research shows that gut dysbiosis can harm learning and memory, and can contribute to inflammatory brain reactions.
5. Mood Disorders such as Anxiety and Depression
The gut microbiota affects serotonin production and dopamine, with more than 90 percent of serotonin produced (our 'feel-good neurotransmitter') in the gut, is it any surprise that you feel down if your gut is damaged or inflamed?
And given that antidepressants do not offer a viable long-term solution, it is promising to see that probiotics and prebiotics are beginning to gain traction in the struggle to find therapeutic solutions to anxiety and depression symptoms.
6. Headaches / Migraines
The digestive problems can be a real headache – again.
The latest research indicates that the underlying mechanisms most likely include increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and subsequent chronic inflammation of gastrointestinal issues.
Migraines are more common in people with gastrointestinal disorders than in the general population. Therefore, there is little question that someone with frequent headaches and/or migraines should evaluate their gut health.
7. Hay Fever and Sinus Complaints
The solution to seasonal allergic rhinitis, a.k.a. hay fever might have more to do with probiotics than it does with pollen. And it starts when we're young, with decreased diversity of gut bacteria associated with increased risk of hay fever in the first six years of life. But in adults, a low variety of gut bacteria continues to be related to seasonal pollen allergies.
Seven Foods to Eat Instead
A gut microbiome that is healthy is essential, not only to break down the foods you eat but also to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins — meaning that serious problems can arise when your gut bacteria is out of control.
And what's the secret to ensuring you've got a healthy gut? Focus on a diet that is rich in probiotics and fermented foods that promote good bacteria growth. By balancing your intestinal flora, you can lose weight — and lead a happier, healthier life.
Gastroenterologist and Chief of Staff of Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, Dr. Linda Ann Lee, recommend these diets rich in probiotics and fermented foods to help stimulate good bacteria and promote a healthy gut.
Avocado is a superfood filled with fiber and vital nutrients, including potassium, to help encourage useful digestive function. It is also a food that is low in fructose, so it is less likely to cause gas. "Foods like nuts and avocados are dense in nutrients," says Lee. "They also contain a lot of fat, so you have to eat them in moderation."
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy vegetables, like spinach or kale, are excellent sources of fiber. Vitamins A, C, K, and folate are good sources of fiber, too. According to research, leafy greens also contain a specific form of sugar that helps fuel healthy gut bacteria to grow. Referring to a trillion of organisms that live in the colon, "Eating a lot of fiber and leafy greens allow you to develop an ideal gut microbiome," says Lee.
3. Low-Fructose Fruits
"If you bloat more often than normal, you may need to reduce your fructose or fruit sugar intake," says Lee, pointing out to stave off foods such as pears, mangoes, and apples.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, produce less fructose than those previously mentioned, making it easier to absorb, and less likely to cause gas.
Bananas are another fiber-rich low-fructose fruit containing inulin, a compound that promotes the development of healthy bacteria in the gut.
This Korean fermented vegetable specialty contains the benefits of probiotic bacteria along with vitamins and fiber. Kimchi makes a great, lively side that can be combined with several different dishes. It's so popular that when they have their photos taken, Koreans say "kimchi" in the same way that we say "cheese."
Almonds have strong probiotic properties, meaning they are a treat for your gut bacteria because they are high in fiber and full of fatty acids and polyphenols. So, a handful of almonds when you're feeling hungry make an excellent snack.
Among the most convenient and healthiest foods in nature, bananas are loaded with the kind of fiber that healthy bacteria love. They also contain healthy minerals.
Fresh ginger can aid in stomach acid development, and it activates the digestive system to keep food moving through the intestine. You can add freshly grated ginger to soups, stews, smoothies, or stir-fries. Or pour boiling water over rubbed ginger to make a refreshing, ginger tea.
The microbiome in our gut consists of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. It plays a significant role in your health, helping with digestion control and benefiting your immune system and many other health aspects.
An imbalance in the intestines of unhealthy and healthy microbes can contribute to weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and other health conditions.
Adding the seven recommended healthy foods to your diet can make a significant impact on your gut, your brain, and your mental health.
1. Signs of Having Unhealthy Gut
2. 4 Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut and How to Help
3. Warning Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut
4. Signs of Poor Gut Health
5. 20 Best Foods For Gut Health
6. Gut Food - 15 Foods For Good Gut Health
7. 5 Foods To Improve Your Digestion
8. Why Gut Microbiome is Crucial for Your Health
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below - we read each and every one of them!