The gut is home to trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms, also known as your gut microbiome, which is ideally a healthy mix of good and bad bacteria living in harmony. A healthy balanced gut flora helps your body rid itself of toxins and absorb nutrients, while increasing your immune system and fighting harmful viruses. When bad bacteria outnumbers good bacteria, this can wreak havoc on your overall health. Diet, stress, medication, and alcohol are common culprits of bad bacteria overgrowth. Constipation, gas, and diarrhea are all well-known digestive issues that may be signs of an unhealthy gut. In addition to these digestive disturbances, there are many other signs of an imbalanced gut. Below are a few common signs:
Serotonin is a hormone that is produced in your gut, it affects your sleeping habits and mood. Gut disturbances can affect your serotonin levels, which can lead to insomnia and chronic fatigue.
Diets high in processed food and sugars are known to decrease good bacteria, allowing bad bacteria to take over. Bacteria imbalances can cause inflammation in your intestines, and inflammation is often a precursor to stomach and colon cancers.
The gut microbiome affects your metabolism, hunger, and digestion, along with your body weight. There is a correlation between unplanned weight gain and an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestines. Some studies have shown abdominal weight gain may be a result of your gut not properly absorbing insulin due to bacterial imbalances.
Your hormones play a vital role in your mental health. If your gut flora is imbalanced, it might also affect your mood-boosting serotonin levels. If this hormonal balance is thrown off, it can induce mood disorders and depressive-like behaviors.
How to help fix an Unhealthy Gut
- Diet – the best way to tackle an unhealthy gut is sticking with a clean high-fiber diet and avoiding processed foods. Reduce alcohol intake, incorporate vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
- Limit your sugar intake – bad bacteria thrives on sugar
- Prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods can also help nourish your gut with good bacteria. These items can help restore balance to your microbiome.
- Hydrate – Hydration is beneficial to the mucous lining of your intestines and assists in eliminating metabolic waste and maintaining a healthy gut environment.