Your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a microbiome, which contains bacteria, fungi and even viruses. It sounds gross, but gut bacteria is essential for your body to function correctly. There should always be a mix between good and bad bacteria in your gut, but sometimes there can be more bad bacteria which can cause some health issues, such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain and cramping.
About 70 percent of your immune system lives in your gut, so making sure your digestive system is healthy helps to keep the rest of you healthy too. While your gut cannot directly speak with you, learn how to tell if your gut is healthy or not.
Your Stomach is Upset
If you have chronic heartburn, constipation and bloating, your gut may be trying to tell you something. This can be the result of poor digestion and absorption. Conditions such as acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis can be linked to an imbalance in your gut microbiome.
The cravings for certain types of foods, especially sweets and sugar, can be caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria. The overgrowth of yeast in your gut, which can happen after taking antibiotics, can cause you to crave more sugary treats.
Ways to Improve your Gut Health
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in your gut. If you’re experiencing gut issues, incorporating more probiotics into your diet can help. These can be found in fermented foods, like yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh and kombucha. Probiotics can also be taken in pill form, found in many health food or grocery stores. Look for a pill that has 5 to 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) and different types of bacteria for the best results.
Antibiotics are great for curing illnesses, but avoid overuse of them. Because they kill bacteria, they can cause a lot of harm to your gut because they don’t differentiate between good and bad bacteria. Only take antibiotics for the amount of time prescribed to keep your gut happy and healthy.
Eat Less Processed Foods
Processed foods and refined sugars cause inflammation in your GI tract and also promote the growth of bad bacteria. This is because your gut can’t always identify processed foods as digestible so they “attack” them, causing stress on your body. Stick to whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and unprocessed meats.