Updated: Mar 23
How many times have you been faced with making an important decision when someone tells you to just “go with your gut”? And you know what, most (if not all) of the times, it was probably the best thing to do. Our gut is trying to “tell” us things all the time. Maybe we should start paying closer attention to it, especially when it comes to our health.
Read on to learn about gut health—what it is, why it matters, and what you can do to improve and maintain good gut health.
What is gut health?
The word “gut” refers to the parts of your digestive system—everything from your mouth to your bowels. But the phrase “gut health” is focused on the balance between the good and bad bacteria in the large intestine, or the gut microbiome. Having a healthy gut means having achieved balance within your gut microbiome.
Why does gut health matter?
Our digestive system plays a crucial role in our overall health and wellness. It is where food is broken down into the vitamins and nutrients we need to function and thrive. Having a gut imbalance (where there is more bad bacteria than good ones) impacts our ability to extract what we need from foods. It also puts us at risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and related diseases.
But gut health affects more than just our digestive system. It can affect other major organs in our bodies and contribute to chronic illnesses. Some bad bacteria that can overrun our gut have been linked to heart and kidney disease, obesity, and issues with chronic pain.
The Gut-Brain Connection: The Link Between the Gut Brain Axis & Mental Health
The gut-brain connection describes the two-way connection that exists between the gut and the brain. Not only is proper brain function needed to prevent gut brain axis disorders (like IBS), but it is also needed for mental wellness, including emotional stability and cognitive health. Interference with this connection results in a negative impact on brain function, and is linked to issues with anxiety, depression, and mental health disorders.
Poor gut health can severely interfere with overall quality of life on every level. Improving and maintaining good gut health is important to both our physical and mental well being.
How to improve gut health?
There are a few ways to improve gut health. In general, this includes diet, exercise and stress management. For the first option, you can start improving gut health by eating probiotics, which are good bacteria similar to the ones found in your gut. A well-rounded diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat in addition to probiotics (including dairy products and fermented or pickled vegetables) is necessary to support gut health.
In addition to diet, physical activity is another important step in improving and maintaining gut health. When we remain inactive for long periods of time (especially while sitting), it makes it difficult for normal digestion processes to take place. Regular exercise helps maintain gut health by helping food move through our digestive system.
Stress management is another important step in supporting gut health. Stress contributes to poor gut health likely by decreasing blood flow to the intestines. This slows down nutrient absorption and can alter gut microbiome makeup. Controlling stress through meditation and mindfulness are effective ways to avoid stress-induced gut health issues.
Addressing your gut health can be challenging, but you can achieve great results with the proper resources and support. At Ollovus, we believe it is important for you to quickly and easily access these resources. In just a few clicks, you can find an expert on gut health who can help you make the changes you need to improve your gut health. Let’s help you get started on your gut health goals today.