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Trust your gut

I know that I am not alone in my love for food. Since the beginning of time, humans have congregated around food in exactly the same way we congregate for stories, or family. But in our modern world, food is easier to obtain and tastier than ever.

Burgers, pizza, chicken wings, pasta, bread, basically every single iteration of humanity’s most delicious inventions are now available – affordably – by delivery or from a drive-thru window, and sometimes even available 24/7.

And although we are free to feast on whichever tasty treat we desire, there is one part of our body that must deal with what we ingest: The gut.

Well, not one part, really. The gut consists of various parts, organs, and living creatures that all attribute to our health.

What is the gut?

In principle the gut is simple, it is our gastrointestinal tract; one long tube that runs from our mouth to our rectum and processes all our food intake.

In theory, it is a lot more complex. It includes the mouth, throat, small intestine, large intestine, colon, and rectum. Each of these is its own organ with intricate workings, sections, and processes. The gut also has an amazing microbiome that is formed out of various living organisms like bacteria, fungi, cells, and even viruses. All of which help with food and nutrient breakdown.

Do you have an unhealthy gut? This is how you know:

  • Dyspepsia – Complications like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut.
  • High-sugar diet – A diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the number of fine bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which may damage your gut further. Excessive amounts of refined sugars, particularly high-fructose syrup, are linked to increased inflammation within the body. Inflammation may be the precursor to many diseases and even cancers.
  • Unintentional weight changes – Gaining or losing weight without making changes to your diet or exercise habits could also be an indication of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate glucose, and store fat. Weight loss is also caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), while weight gain could also be caused by insulin resistance or the urge to overeat because of decreased nutrient absorption.
  • Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue – An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances like insomnia or poor sleep, and so result in chronic fatigue. The bulk of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced within the gut. So gut damage can impair your ability to sleep well. Some sleep disturbances have also been linked to risk for fibromyalgia.
  • Skin irritation – Inflammation within the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins into the body, which may successively irritate the skin and cause conditions like eczema.
  • Autoimmune conditions – Medical researchers are continually finding new evidence of the impact of the gut on the immune system. It is thought that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the correct functioning of this system. This could result in autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself instead of harmful invaders.
  • Food intolerances – Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods (this is different than an allergic reaction, which is caused by a systemic reaction to certain foods). It is thought that food intolerances could also be caused by inferior quality of bacteria within the gut. This could cause difficulty digesting trigger foods and unsightly symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and nausea. Some evidence suggests that food allergies might also be associated with gut health.


Here is what you will be able to do to enhance your gut health:

1. Lower your stress levels
Chronically elevated levels of stress are hard on your whole body, including your gut. Some ways to lower stress may include meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, diffusing essential oils, decreasing caffeine intake, laughing, yoga, or having a pet.

2. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough or sufficient quality of sleep can have serious impacts on your gut health, which may successively contribute to more sleep issues. Try and prioritize getting access to at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Your doctor is also able to help if you have got trouble sleeping.

3. Eat slowly
Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. This could facilitate an improved, healthy gut and reduce digestive discomfort.

4. Stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water has been shown to possess a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, and the fine bacteria within the gut. Staying hydrated could be a simple way to promote a healthy gut.

5. Check for food intolerances
If you have symptoms like cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and/or acid reflux, you might have a food intolerance. Try eliminating common ‘trigger foods’ to determine if your symptoms improve. You will see a positive change in your digestive health by changing your eating habits and avoiding ‘trigger foods’.

6. Change your diet
Reducing the number of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods that you eat can contribute to better gut health. Additionally, eating lots of plant-based foods and lean protein can positively impact your gut. A diet high in fibre has been shown to contribute tremendously to a healthy gut microbiome. So, trust your gut, listen to what it tells you and always keep in mind that the gut can be seen as one large system that is crucial to your health.


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