Have you been experiencing heartburn, bloating, or weight changes that were unplanned? Stomach and abdominal issues such as these and others can point to gut health problems that could be bringing down your quality of life. Here are some signs to look out for and 7 tips to work on improving your gut health today:
There are a number of signs that could be your body trying to tell you your gut health needs a bit of work. Have you experienced any of these? It may be time to take action.
General Stomach Issues
From upset stomach to bloating, there are plenty of unhealthy gut signs that can fall under this category. You may be experiencing constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or gas. These problems can point to a bigger issue.
Do you have issues falling asleep or staying asleep? Sleep disturbances can be a sign of quite a few health issues, but gut health is one of them. A majority of your serotonin is actually produced in the digestive tract (90%!), and this hormone affects mood and sleep.
Even if you’re getting 8 hours of sleep nightly, if you’re feeling fatigued throughout the day, this could be another sign of poor gut health.
Have you recently put on weight? Lost weight? If these changes were unintended, they could point to gut problems. Your digestive tract is responsible for absorbing nutrients and storing fat, as well as regulating blood sugar. Bacterial problems or insulin resistance resulting from digestive tract issues can cause weight loss or weight gain.
Can you no longer eat some of your favorite foods? Whether it’s ice cream, pasta, or coffee, the ability to no longer enjoy these foods without discomfort could mean you have an issue in your gut. Poor amounts or poor quality of bacteria in your digestive tract could be responsible for causing the intolerance and resulting in bloating, pain, nausea, diarrhea, gas, and other intestinal issues.
A few more signs that you have gut issues include:
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, you will definitely want to keep a close eye on your overall gut health. Make sure to follow these tips to improve your digestive tract:
One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to exercise and exercise regularly. Walking, biking, yoga, weight lifting – it all gets your colon moving. More regular bowel movements can mean healthier guts.
Change Your Diet
And, of course, along with exercise comes a healthy diet. If you’re having a lot of snacks, candies, sodas, and other unhealthy foods, you may want to cut back. High fructose corn syrup, sugars, high-fat foods and processed foods can wreak havoc on gut health. Instead, focus more on fresh and clean foods such as plant-based options and lean protein.
You’ll also want to be sure you’re eating a diet that is high in fiber, as this can lead to a healthy gut microbiome. The microbiome are all the “bugs” or microorganisms that live in and on the human body–mostly bacteria–they thrive on fiber, among other healthy foods.
The American Heart Association recommends getting in 25-30 grams of fiber daily from the foods you eat. Also, along with adding fiber to your diet, make sure you’re cutting out foods you seem to have an intolerance for, especially when having active gut symptoms.
Change How You Eat
It’s not all about what you eat – but also how you eat. Do you eat in a hurry? Do you eat as much as you can in one meal? Eating smaller meals can help the absorption of nutrients and also keep gut discomfort to a minimum. Try chewing your food thoroughly and slowly to help the digestive process as well.
Follow a Sleep Routine
Do you sometimes go to bed at 8pm and other nights at 1am? This could be causing some of your health issues, including problems with your gut. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Catching up on it on the weekend doesn’t work!
Drink a Lot of Water
Another habit that is great for your overall health, including your gut health, is drinking plenty of water. The amount of water recommended is a little more than what you may be thinking. Traditionally, we’ve been taught to recommend 64 ounces of water daily. However, the Institute of Medicine actually recommends a minimum of 101 ounces (approximately 13 cups) daily for men and 74 ounces (approximately 9 cups) minimum for women. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (about 125 ounces) of fluids for men and 11.5 cups (about 91 ounces) of fluids a day for women. Getting in an adequate amount of fluid will help with the lining of your digestive track and work to balance the microbiome.
A simple step that can do wonders for your digestive tract is to take probiotics. The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses. Because dairy and gluten-containing products can be inflammatory for many, I recommend you start with the non-dairy and gluten-free food choices first.
You may also want to opt for supplements as a source of probiotics. This is especially the case if you’re taking or have recently taken antibiotics. Antibiotics usually don’t tell the difference between good bacteria and bad bacteria, killing off both, and it can lead to problems with your microbiome.
A word on probiotics and supplements in general…
Be sure to get the highest quality supplement you can–this is a general rule for any supplement you take. It may not be cheap. But in this instance, the saying that “you get what you pay for” is true. At least go a step above your local drug store and get supplements from a place that specializes in health and nutrition or get them from your healthcare provider. Because each probiotic supplement has a different blend of good bacteria, it is best to rotate between 2-3 different probiotics, changing every 3-4 months.
Watch Your Stress Levels
Stress causes more havoc on our bodies than most people realize. Whether you’re stressed from work, life, or something else, monitoring your anxiety levels is essential for good gut health (and strong overall health). Meditation, exercise, massages, hanging out with friends, yoga, and therapy are all great ways to get on top of your stress. Find what works for you and stick with it!
It’s not always obvious what’s causing a gut health issue, but the seven healthy habits mentioned here can help minimize any potential issues you’re having. However, if you’re following these tips and still having problems, or the discomfort is particularly bad, don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor. It could be signs of more serious issues that need medical assistance or medication.
Are you having trouble with gut issues? Have you tried to address it on your own but not seeing much improvement? Let us help. Find out how we can help. Simply schedule your free consultation with us here. We call this the Ready to Feel Good Again Strategy Call–because it is possible for you to feel good again and we are so excited to partner with you on your health journey!