Last Updated on 28th July 2021

The state of your gut can have varying levels of impact on other body systems and your overall health.

Microbiome is the name given to the different kinds of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that reside in the body. There are an estimated 100 trillion microbes that primarily reside in your digestive tract.

The bad type can cause digestive problems while good bacteria can boost immunity, improve your mood, and promote other health benefits. 

Gut bacteria serves several purposes including:

  • breaking down and drawing energy from food
  • developing immunity
  • balancing the good versus bad bacterial composition
  • create neurotransmitters

There are many factors and behaviours that can cause a gut to become unhealthy and deny a person the benefits associated with the good bacteria. The best way to learn if there is a problem to be looked into is to identify the key signs of an unhealthy gut. 

Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

  1. Stomach Upset

An upset stomach is typically characterised by:

  • abdominal pain
  • gas 
  • bloating
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • heartburn

Too much gas and bloating can often indicate difficulty breaking down food, causing it to ferment in the gut. Diarrhoea and constipation can mean the gut is having difficulty correctly processing food and leading to poor waste elimination. Frequent recurrence of these symptoms can also often point to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

  1. Fluctuating Weight

Unintentional gains or losses of weight can indicate an unhealthy gut. It can lead to problems trying to control blood sugar and affect the absorption of nutrients from food. Weight gain can suggest insulin resistance and the body stirring feelings of hunger because of the lack of nutrients being absorbed. This can then easily lead to overeating in an attempt to satiate these feelings. 

When there is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), weight loss can often occur. This condition arises when bacteria that is supposed to be in other parts of the gut starts growing in the small intestines. This overgrowth of bacteria consumes nutrients from food, leaving the body suffering malnutrition. It is often accompanied by abdominal pain and diarrhoea. 

  1. Sleep Disturbance and Fatigue

One of the main hormones that contribute to the regulation of mood and sleep is serotonin. It is produced in the gut. Where there is a disturbance in gut bacteria, it can lead to periods of insomnia. This can be worsened by abdominal pain and IBS that makes sleep difficult. Studies have also shown that people that suffer from chronic fatigue may have imbalances in gut bacteria.

How to Improve Gut Flora?

When it comes to promoting good bacteria in the gut, the solution primarily lies in what you consume. By making the right food choices you can maintain a better balance of the microorganisms in your gut and enjoy better digestion and overall health.

  1. Drink Smoothies

There are many reasons to partake of smoothies including the ability to improve a person’s intake of fruit and vegetables, hydrate, and healthily regulate hunger pangs. While this may be one of the lesser-known benefits of smoothies, with the right combination of ingredients, smoothies can also be used to improve gut flora. 

The different fruits and vegetables that are used to make smoothies are rich sources of fibre and contain varied types and levels of nutrients that support different microbial species. Additional ingredients for protein smoothies like nuts and seeds can also provide antioxidants that promote the formation of certain microbes. 

  1. Eat More Fibre

A diet rich in fibre can be a big help in creating an environment for good bacteria to flourish. It can help ease symptoms of digestive problems and regulate weight gain. High fibre intake can also reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Some of the best fibre rich foods include:

  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Beans and peas
  • Brown rice
  • Fruits like oranges, bananas, and berries
  • Vegetables like broccoli and asparagus
  • Garlic and onions
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Baked potato with skin
  1. Use Olive Oil

Olive oil contains polyphenols. These are antioxidants that help promote the growth of healthy microbes. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is particularly beneficial in reducing harmful bacteria, encouraging the growth of good bacteria, and reducing inflammation. It has been found helpful in combating certain strains of bacteria that can cause ulcers and stomach cancer.

Oral-gut connection

Your mouth is not only where you chew your food, but it also houses many bacteria that can be harmful to other organs and systems in the body. It’s true: brushing teeth daily may seem like enough for oral hygiene, but visiting a dentist regularly will help ensure healthy gums and protect against dental problems later on down the line.

To conclude

Be aware of any changes in your health that may indicate gut trouble. The sooner you recognise the symptoms, the faster you can react and achieve a quick recovery. However, gut health should be an ongoing habit that involves eating healthily. This will reduce the risk of developing an unhealthy gut and make for a happier and healthier you. 

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