Regular bowel movements, feeling less bloated, and mental clarity are common signs of a healthy gut.
With a few changes in lifestyle, you can effectively improve your digestive system's health.
A healthy gut includes:
On the other hand, an unhealthy gut may exhibit symptoms such as:
A variety of factors can impact gut health, including stress levels, diet, regular exercise, and your state of mind.
The first indicator that you are on track with your gut health is regular bowel movements. A consistent schedule means waste materials are being efficiently expelled, maintaining equilibrium in your digestive system.
Maintaining track of how often you go to the bathroom is a good way to keep an eye on the condition of your gut.
A study from PubMed indicated that a normal stool frequency is roughly between three times per week and three times per day. (1)
The condition of your gut can be reflected in the amount of energy you have in a day.
If you are able to get through the day feeling energized without having to take a nap or a caffeine injection, this could be a sign of a healthy gut, optimal digestion, and efficient nutrient absorption.
If your gastrointestinal tract isn't working correctly, your body could transfer more saved energy to the intestines compared to other parts of your body.
This could leave you tired, as your body has to work harder to make up for the inconsistencies.
Studies have shown that people who experience CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) often experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). (2)
If you are experiencing excessive abdominal pain, food intolerances, and symptoms of IBS, you could be suffering from an unhealthy digestive system.
Gas is a normal part of the digestive process and is completely natural. The release of gas helps to prevent excessive buildup in the stomach.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is normal to pass gas 21 times per day, while a study on WebMD suggests that 20 times per day is considered normal. (3) (4)
Excessive or painful gas is a sign of digestive issues.
If you feel bloated and uncomfortable, you may have excessive gas. Bloating causes the stomach to feel large, swollen, and bloated.
Factors that can cause excessive gas and bloating could be diet-related (dietary choices), swallowing excessive amounts of air, bowel disease, or intestinal infections.
Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing excessive bloating.
When our gut microbiome is balanced, it promotes healthier sleep patterns while reducing instances of insomnia or other disturbances. The gut is referred to as the second brain, and if you are sleeping well, your stomach will feel good too.
Mood swings and gut health might not seem related, but there is an intricate link between the brain and gastrointestinal tract.
An unhealthy digestive system can contribute to anxiety and stress. Likewise, stress can also negatively impact your gut. (5)
If stable moods along with enhanced mental clarity have become part of your daily life, then it is a sign of good intestinal health.
Gut transit time is the total amount of time it takes for food to move through the body to the end of your digestive tract.
Transit time is a useful metric to monitor, as it indicates how effectively your body can digest and absorb nutrients. Transit time can take 30 to 40 hours for the average healthy person, but it can also take up to 73 hours. (6)
Doctors are able to run tests to measure your gut transit time. The test uses a capsule or small pill that contains radiopaque markers, which enable them to monitor movements through your digestive system.
Your doctor may want to run this test if you are frequently experiencing heartburn, abdominal pain, chronic constipation, IBS, or diarrhea. (7)
Gut health all starts with what you eat. Unhealthy dietary choices, particularly a high intake of processed foods, sugar, and a lack of vegetables, wreak havoc on your gut's equilibrium.
Suggested reading: 11 easy and great-tasting smoothie recipes for kids
To enhance your gut health, the first crucial step involves integrating fiber-rich foods into your meals. Consuming an abundance of fruits and vegetables not only supplies essential nutrients but also assists digestion by aiding the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Incorporating whole foods while limiting processed ones plays a significant role in maintaining good gut health. Often laden with additives and sugars, processed foods could disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract.
Research indicates that stress might cause imbalances within our guts. Activities like yoga or meditation are excellent ways to reduce stress levels and, consequently, maintain a balanced digestive system. (12)
Regular exercise improves your defense activity and metabolic health. It is also a good way to clear your mind and reduce stress. It can also improve immune regulation. Remember, consistency is key.
An often overlooked yet critical factor affecting our digestion is sleep quality and duration - strive for 7–9 hours per night consistently for optimal results.
From household cleaning products to air pollution, environmental toxins can interfere with various bodily systems including our gastrointestinal tract.
Further reading: Is Hyaluronic Acid Good for Oily Skin?
In addition to making healthier lifestyle choices, using daily supplements can help your body gain the essential nutrients it needs. Dietary supplements come in different forms, such as capsules, gummies, tablets, and powders.
There is a wealth of supplements and minerals on the market today, but not all of them are created equal.
These are live bacteria that are beneficial for your gut.
Good gut bacteria help the body break down fiber, which aids in nutrient absorption and the production of short-chain fatty acids. Probiotics can also help defend the body against harmful bacteria.
Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and pickled vegetables.
Deep dive: Prebiotics VS Probiotics
These are non-digestible dietary fibers that are found in fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. Prebiotics are food for friendly bacteria (good bacteria).
Using prebiotics can help to maintain the balance of good gut bacteria as well as promote their growth.
Prebiotic fiber can be found in garlic, lentils, onions, leeks, asparagus, chickpeas, and legumes.
It is a fiber-like molecule that activates each immune cell in the body.
This way, the body is able to fight off pathogens and harmful bacteria more effectively.
Glucans can be found in oats, grains, barley, shiitake mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, and seaweed.
Suggested reading: List of Prebiotic Foods
Glucan, a natural substance present in grains like oats and barley, has been appreciated for centuries due to its potential advantages for health. But what exactly is it? Let's break it down.
This potent soluble fiber has graced our diets for hundreds of years. Its origins trace back to various types of mushrooms, yeasts, and specific grains.
Across different cultures worldwide, glucans have long been recognized as beneficial components contributing significantly to overall well-being. Their usage reflects their historical significance in promoting good health.
Beta glucan is a prebiotic powerhouse and has the ability to help healthy gut bacteria thrive, as well as balance the gut microbiome.
It may be able to help with: *
As all the immune cells are activated by glucan, the immune system may become stronger and fight off bad bacteria. *
This helps fortify your immunity by enhancing the crucial defensive cells within your body.
A regular bowel movement, better sleep quality, and increased energy levels are clear indicators that your gut health is in good shape.
Poor diet choices and stress can have a negative impact on your gut's well-being. However, making simple lifestyle changes such as incorporating fiber-rich foods into your meals or finding ways to reduce stress can significantly improve your digestive health.
Beta Glucan, an incredible natural supplement found in grains like oats and barley, could be the missing link to optimal immune function.
This powerful soluble fiber not only supports heart health but also aids digestion and boosts immunity.
(*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease)
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