What Is Gut Health?

Terms related to gut health and how to combat it.
If you've ever wondered what the secret to a flat stomach is, sometimes it's as simple as maintaining your gut health. Occasionally, what is known as bad bacteria can accumulate in your gut and cause all kinds of negative effects such as inflammation, bloating, causing you to crave bad foods, and even triggering certain allergens.

Therefore, maintaining your gut health is not just a key component in eliminating belly fat, but it's also important for preserving your overall health.

What is Gut Health and What Does It Refer To?

Gut health is becoming a popular term to define the overall state of your gut. The gut contains a gut barrier and gut flora, or intestinal microbiota, which are responsible for maintaining the proper balance in the gut. Within the gut are more than a trillion active microorganisms that regulate the mucosal immune system and metabolism, as well as protect the body from infections and help ensure the GI barrier stays intact.

An intact GI barrier sustains gut health; however, a decrease in the number of microbiota in the barrier will alter the body's defense systems and lead to leaky gut syndrome, which can be linked to a number of issues including obesity, breast cancer, inflammation, depression, chronic fatigue and more.

Why Gut Health is Important

The gut's ecosystem is comprised of both good and harmful bacteria. Researchers expound that it is the prevalence of good or probiotic bacteria in the gut that protects the gut and other organs of the body against infections and diseases.

Probiotic bacteria contributes to good health in many ways including:

  • Hindering the growth of harmful bacteria that dwell in neutral pH environments by producing organic acids that decrease the pH in the intestines.
  • Fighting harmful foreign substances by detoxing them and eliminating them from the body.
  • Lowering cardiovascular risks and serum cholesterol levels by hindering cholesterol synthesizing enzymes.
Since everything we drink and eat flows through the gut via the GI tract, it provides many opportunities to alter this delicate balance, which can ultimately make you sick unless proper probiotic levels are maintained.

How to Maintain Proper Gut Health

1) Proper Diet

Diet and lifestyle play a key role in maintaining the GI barrier and managing diseases such as obesity, allergies, cancer, fatty liver disease, IBD and inflammation and maintaining your overall gut health.

Research has shown that diets high in fructose and dietary fat, as well as processed foods, have a negative impact on the GI barrier while nutrient rich foods that are high in fiber and have a low glycemic load have been shown to improve gut health.

Good food sources such as fermented foods, vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, cereals and lean meats such as skinless chicken and fish provide quality proteins, antioxidants, saturated lipids and good complex carbohydrates, which promotes the predominance of good bacteria.

2) Probiotic Supplements

Supplements have also been shown to be helpful in maintaining overall gut health. Selecting a supplement that contains probiotics can prevent chronic bowel diseases, such as IBS, and restore leaky gut. When used in conjunction with prebiotics, it can further these benefits.

3) Stress Management

When the body is under chronic stress, it releases a group of peptides known as CRF's or corticotrophin-releasing factors. These peptides can negatively impact the physiological function of the gut and lead to a number of issues including gut permeability, inflammation, visceral hypersensitivity and eventually the secretion of cortisol, the fat storage hormone often associated with protruding gut.

In addition, stress can also affect the composition of the microbiota, which can compromise the intestinal barrier and encourage an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that individuals limit the effects of stress by participating in stress-relieving activities such as meditation, leisurely activities and hobbies, etc., to help lower the secretion of cortisol and other stress-related substances.

4) Regular Exercise

As it turns out, regular exercise may actually encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. According to research, being physically active is not only good for maintaining your weight, but it also helps maintain your overall health by altering the kinds of organisms that thrive inside us. Regular exercise should include at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, at least five days a week.

Maintaining your gut health allows healthy bacteria to flourish freely throughout your gastrointestinal tract which provides a whole a host of benefits, including weight loss. Preserving you gut health can be as easy as making a few simple lifestyle changes which include adequate exercise, good diet choices, stress reducing activities, and when in doubt, a probiotic supplement. Remember, make changes little by little to avoid becoming overwhelmed, and before you know it, you'll be on your way to a healthier gut in no time.

Dr. Donna Sergi is a leading Brooklyn Chiropractor and Practitioner of Nutrition Response Testing. Learn more by visiting her website at: http://www.healthieruny.com


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