There is no denying that gut health has become one of the most researched areas in science over the last decade. With more and more studies associating significant drivers of health with gut health, it’s hard to ignore the importance of building and maintaining strong internal health. Luckily, by exposing the body to the right conditions through nutrition, supplementation, mental health support, and sleep, gut health can be restored to optimal function to sustain overall health and prevent future disease.
Key indicators of gut health include diversity and microbial stability because they have been shown to be inversely associated with chronic disease and metabolic dysfunction. When these factors are compromised, “dysbiosis” can occur that disrupts microbiome balance, which can trigger inflammation and immune dysregulation and have a dramatic effect on overall health. Poor gut health has been associated with various chronic health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 & 2 diabetes, IBS, and cardiovascular disease, as well as neurological, metabolic, respiratory, and mental health disorders.
Stated with all seriousness, a healthy gut can definitely, in the most positive way, impact your overall health and daily well-being. Adopting gut-supporting habits is often the first step towards addressing and preventing chronic illnesses. Take a look at these insights below:
First, Learn How to Support the Microbiome
The microbiome refers to the collection of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and viruses that live on and inside the human body. There are close to 100 trillion microbes that make up the human microbiome, most residing in the Gastrointestinal Tract. Microbes not only play a role in digesting food consumed, but are also important in metabolism, regulating the immune system, and producing key hormones required for healthy brain function. Supporting the microbiome is arguably one of the most important behaviors we can do as humans. Luckily, the gut is remarkably resilient: our microbial communities can respond to interventions in as little as 3 days, and can completely rebalance with healthy bacteria in around 6 months.
Nutrition and Supplementation
A major way to support gut microbiome is to literally feed it what it needs to thrive. The healthy food we eat has powerful healing properties on its own, in addition to beneficial compounds that fuel a healthy microbiome. Prebiotics and probiotics are important elements to include in everyday nutrition. Probiotics include beneficial bacteria found in food or supplements (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables), whereas prebiotics are the types of fiber that feed the gut’s “good” bacteria (whole sources of fruits and vegetables). Other supplements that support microbiome health include L-Glutamine, magnesium, fish oil, and vitamin D. Before stocking up on supplements, however, it is best to speak to your provider about what vitamins and minerals you may be missing from your diet first. Specialized blood testing can help determine whether you are low on key nutrients that can better support your digestive health.
Stress and Mental Health
The connection between mental health and physical health has been strongly documented in recent research. With the gut producing a majority of the neurotransmitters used by the brain, it is clear that a healthy gut can support mental health. However, this connection goes both ways – stress and anxiety can trigger inflammation in the gut and can affect the production of the hunger and satiety signaling hormones, ghrelin, and leptin. Supporting the brain means supporting the microbiome, and vice-versa. The key here is to try to find an appropriate outlet or routine that helps manage daily stress. Always reach out to a mental health practitioner too who can help with guidance and who can work safely alongside you to support you on your journey to better mental health and wellness.
Sleep is paramount to overall health. This also includes the health of the microbiome. Good sleep is associated with microbiome diversity, a key indicator of gut health mentioned previously. Our microbes can sense our wake and sleep times and function accordingly. If sleep is thrown off, so might our microbes. With the gut intricately linked to the body’s sleep patterns, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene each and every night.
A well-balanced gut can truly change your life. However, sometimes, despite our best efforts, our natural hormonal changes can inadvertently fight against the work we’re doing to improve our gut’s health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, experiencing unexplained weight gain, and finding your mind a bit foggy, consider having your hormone levels tested.
How To Get Help
ReVital offers free consultations where you can speak to one of our clinicians about ReVital’s Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. At ReVital, we can conduct simple blood tests to evaluate the levels of these hormones in your system and prescribe supplements or therapies to treat and control the majority of hormonal imbalances. We also encourage that you connect with your regular doctor about any changes in your health and moods.