Influencers Dont Necessarily Know Science
Social media made people famous by promoting an aspirational lifestyle who often receive payment for advertising products and services.
Ask yourself, how many accredited health experts and researchers do you follow? Social media influencers are often highly paid by companies to promote products and/or services. They also made it to the top by sharing opinions, but not necessarily scientific facts.
Its important to do your own research, or else you may find yourself doing some very unscientific stuff and buying all sorts of gut health supplements that some rando with a hundred thousand followers told you to. Dont be afraid to question what youre being told.
Why Gut Health Matters
Your gutotherwise known as your digestive system or your gastrointestinal system digests the foods you eat, absorbs nutrients from it and uses those nutrients to fuel and maintain your body.
The gut plays a huge role in the health and well-being of our bodies, says Alicia Romano, a specialized clinical dietitian at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition to digesting food and absorbing nutrients, the gut is in tight communication with the brain, playing a constant game of telephone and influencing a number of factors, including immune activity, GI muscle contractions and fluid secretion. And the gut is a key player in the bodys immune systemover 70% of your immune cells reside in the gut.
Eat A Diverse Range Of Foods
There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines, each of which plays a specific role in health and requires different nutrients for growth.
Generally speaking, a diverse microbiome is considered a healthy one. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the more health benefits they may be able to contribute to (
Unfortunately, the traditional Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, an estimated 75% of the worlds food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species .
However, diets in certain rural regions are often more diverse and richer in different plant sources.
For this reason, a few studies have shown that gut microbiome diversity is much greater in people from rural regions of Africa and South America than in people from urban areas in Europe or the United States .
Eating a diverse diet rich in whole foods can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is beneficial for your health.
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How Can You Improve Your Gut Health Through Lifestyle Habits
Gut health is a popular and complex topic that can seem overwhelming. Luckily, maintaining a healthy gut can be easily achieved through simple lifestyle habits. As a Family Nurse Practitioners, I see many patients who have been able to improve their gut health by following these recommendations:
Consume probiotics: Eat probiotics from naturally fermented foods like yogurt to help create a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Eat well: Avoid highly processed foods and eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein and fiber like apples, broccoli, salmon and quinoa.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve gut health by increasing beneficial microbial species and helping to reduce stress.
Hydrate: Drinking enough water is a simple way to improve gut health and prevent constipation.
Reduce stress: Try walking, meditating and spending time with loved ones to help reduce stress and decrease inflammation in the gut.
For more information on how to maintain a healthy gut or to find a primary care provider who can help you make healthy lifestyle changes, visit www.PecosValleyDocs.com.
Carlsbad Medical Center is now offering a free e-newsletter with a monthly dose of health and wellness inspiration sent directly to your inbox from a trusted medical source. I encourage you to subscribe by visiting www.carlsbadmedicalcenter.com/enewsletter-sign-up.
Five Tips To Keep Your Gut Happy And Healthy
As appears in: Montclair LocalEverywhere I go, it seems people are reading or talking about gut health. This buzzword is a hot topic of conversation with both my patients and colleaguesand rightfully so. We are continually learning that this emerging area of research has a dramatic impact on the entire body and can affect how we feel on a daily basis.
It is well known that the brain and gut communicate frequently with each other. In positive ways, they can lead to the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin that impact our mood and help our digestive tract feel well. However, stress and anxiety can also cause digestive problems or exacerbate other medical symptoms. A troubled gut can also send signals to the brain and produce anxiety, stress and depression.
There are small changes we can all make to improve our overall health. Here are five tips to keep your gut happy.
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What Affects Gut Health
The food you eat obviously plays a role in the bacterial makeup of your gut, but so do a lot of other factors, including the nature of your birth. Research shows that babies delivered vaginally grow up to have more diverse microbiomes than those delivered via C-section, thanks to the exposure they get to different bacteria as they pass through the birth canal. Breastfeeding has also been shown to foster beneficial gut bacteria.
The environment you grow up in matters too. We are way too clean of a society, says Hecht. More exposure to germs and bacteria, within reason, can strengthen our microbiomes. Go outside, dig in the dirt, play with animals its all good. These are things that will help establish a healthy gut.
Emotional stress can also affect gut bacteria. Scientists refer to the gut-brain axis, a pathway through which signals from the gut can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, and vice versa. Research is still early, but a persons microbiome and mental state appear to be able to influence each other to some extent.
Then, too, there is the role of medications, including over-the-counter painkillers and drugs used to treat acid reflux, diabetes and psychiatric conditions all have been linked to microbiome changes. But the best-known gut-altering drugs are antibiotics: though theyre prescribed to kill harmful bacteria, they can also wipe out bacteria of all kinds.
What About Probiotic Supplements
Probiotics can be helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, colitis, acne, and eczema. And the strongest evidence for probiotics is related to their use in improving gut health and boosting immune function.
But probiotic supplements dont always work. In fact, a lot of people are taking probiotic supplements that are essentially a waste of money.
Heres the issue: the vast majority of probiotic bacteria are active and effective in the lower portions of the gastrointestinal tract. To get to there, though, these bacteria must survive your highly acidic stomach environment.
So how can you keep these probiotics intact? In other words, when should you take them?
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Garlic: A Pungent Spicy Vegetable Closely Related To Onions
The ultimate in food flavorings, this tasty additive is also great for your gut health.
A 2013 in-vitro study in Food Science and Human Wellness found that garlic boosted the creation of good gut microbes. The research showed that garlic might also help prevent some gastrointestinal diseases.
So go wild! Throw garlic into many of your favorite foods. And try to include some raw garlic, too, because it has the most prebiotic benefits.
Identify And Eliminate Your Specific Food Triggers
While there are some foods, like refined sugars, that are known to contribute to gut imbalance in most people, its possible that you have specific food sensitivities and personalized nutrition needs when it comes to optimizing your gut health.
If you keep eating the a food that you’re sensitive to, it can lead to immune reactivity and contributes to gut imbalance.
The key to good gut health is identifying and eliminating your food triggers to allow your gut to thrive.
The simplest way to identify individual food response differences is an elimination diet, in which you eliminate common food triggers for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce them, looking out for how you feel along the journey.
Several companies offer at-home testing kits that you can use to confirm which food may be your personal triggers.
While the science behind these food sensitivity testing may not be perfect, if you are able to identify some of your food triggers, eliminating them for at least 30 days could help get your gut on the path to success.
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How Can I Maintain My Gut Health
You dont have to know exactly whats going on in your gut at all times. And as long as youre following doctors orders for overall health, youre likely benefiting your microbiome. We tell people to follow a balanced diet, stay hydrated, exercise regularly and get a good nights sleep, says Menon, because we think staying healthy overall will help you maintain a healthy gut.
Similarly, the same habits that are bad for your heart, lungs and brainlike cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol intakecan also hurt the microbiome. Avoid taking unnecessary medications, says Hecht, and talk to your doctor about how your current drug regimen might affect your gut health.
Limiting dairy, red and processed meats, and refined sugars can also improve gut health. So can getting the recommended amount of fiber20 to 40 g a day, depending on your age and gender. Most Americans dont meet these guidelines, but you can increase your amount by adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds to your diet.
Menon recommends keeping a food diary to track fiber intake, as well as GI symptoms related to food. A sudden switch to high-fiber foods can cause bloating, so introduce them gradually and keep track of how your body reacts to anything new. Sometimes you can identify specific trigger foods that make you feel bad every time you eat them, says Menon, and you can find alternatives that work better for you.
Which Probiotic Supplements Are Best
There are thousands of probiotic products on the market, with each company claiming theirs is best. Scan the supplement aisle at your local grocer and youre likely to be overwhelmed with options.
If you decide to take a probiotic supplement, here are four factors to look at when you shop:
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What Can I Do To Heal My Gut Naturally
When it comes to healing your gut, youll have your own path to follow. Our microbiomes are as unique as our fingerprints, and they sit in a body made up of complex, interdependent systems we are only beginning to understand.
For you, tweaking your diet might be enough to get on top of your gut health. But someone else suffering the same symptoms may spend months or years exploring different approaches to solving their problem.
If your answers arent coming easily, look into testing, or try an elimination diet to identify which foods could be causing you problems. Our practitioners are on hand to guide you with either of these.
Want To Understand The Importance Of Gut Health
If you care about your health, knowing how to look after your gut is crucial.
When you hear about gut health, you might think about conditions like IBS, constipation and diarrhoea. These are all uncomfortable gut symptoms that you want to avoid if you dont have them, or get rid of them if you do.
But your gut affects the rest of you too.
Symptoms like fatigue, anxiety and sleep disturbances can be indications that all might not be well with your gut, as well as more serious conditions like:
- rheumatoid arthritis
Its important to remember that research has found links between these diseases and changes in the gut, which means that were not yet sure what comes first, the gut issues or the disease.
We do know that theres an intimate connection between the gut, the brain, and the microbes in our gut, that we call the microbiota-gut-brain axis. The gut and the brain communicate with each other, so emotions can impact the gut, while the gut produces neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA that may influence mood and wellbeing.
In one mouse study, a probiotic called L. Rhamnosus caused chemical changes in the brain by reducing stress hormones . This particular piece of research showed that gut bacteria can have a direct effect on behaviour through the vagus nervethe large nerve that runs from your large intestine to your brain.
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What Is Gut Health And Why Is It Important
Gut health is a term used to describe how the gut interacts with the rest of the body and overall health, including how you digest and absorb substances, according to a 2011 study in BMC Medicine.
The key to all things gut health is the microbiome, according to Christopher Damman, a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Health Center at the University of Washington Medical Center, and chief medical and science Officer at Supergut. You could think about the microbiome as the ‘tamagotchi of our gut,’ Damman says.
“You have to keep the tamagotchi happy to keep your whole body happy,” Damman says.
The microbiome is filled with microbes, and there’s a very important reason why they live in your gut, Damman says. He encourages you to think about microbes as a nutrient factory that makes the things your body needs, using the food we eat. Many of those nutrients aren’t present in the food itself.
You have to keep the tamagotchi happy to keep your whole body happy.Christopher DammanGastroenterologist, Digestive Health Center at the University of Washington Medical Center
“They’re not just there as innocent bystanders, but they’re actually conspiring towards our health and we’re conspiring towards their health. We have a mutual relationship with them,” he says.
Here are some things that your microbes do for your body, according to Damman:
- Produce nutrients
- Regulate your immune system
- Protect you from pathogens
Why Should I Improve My Gut Health
While you may assume that your gut is in good working order, it is estimated that 60-70 million Americans experience digestive problems, making it a widespread and concerning problem.
A healthy gut communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, says Dean. It is important to have a healthy balance of bacteria and immune cells to help ward off potential infections.
The more diverse your gut bacteria are, the better they are able to digest different types of food effectively and fight off diseases.
A person has between 300-500 species of bacteria in their digestive tract, adds Dean. Our good bacteria enhances our immune system function, improves symptoms of depression, helps to combat obesity and is the foundation of our overall health in terms of the food we digest, nutrients we absorb and the fuel we use to power our body.
So, what can you do to improve gut health?
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Best And Worst Foods To Eat For Gut Health
What you eat directly influences the makeup of bacteria in your gutknown as the microbiomewhich in turn impacts your health. A healthy gut helps keep chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer at bay, and also can reduce inflammation, keep your brain healthy and help you maintain a healthy weight. It’s never too late to change your diet to support better bugs in your gut. Research shows that switching from a mostly animal-based diet to a mostly plant-based diet can change the makeup of your microbiome in as little as 24 hours.
So how do you do itThe short answer?
Eat more: Probiotics, prebiotics, fiber, polyphenols and fermented foods
Eat less: Artificial sweeteners, red meat, processed foods and alcohol.
Here, we break down each category and explain why you should eat up with some to have a healthy gut.
Kefir: One Of The Most Probiotic
While this cultured product is traditionally made with dairy, its coconut or water-based counterparts can be even better and keep you free from the controversial health effects of cows milk.
You may be able to find dairy-free kefir in your area. Or you can order kefir starters and make it yourself using coconut water or nut milk. Just be sure that you dont oversweeten it because sugar can be bad for your microbiome.
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Gut Bacteria And Obesity
An unhealthy balance in your gut microbiome may cause crossed signals from your brain when it comes to feeling hungry or full. Researchers think there may be a link to the pituitary gland, which makes hormones that help set your appetite. That gland can affect the balance of bacteria in your gut, too. Some studies on treating obesity are exploring this link.