Your digestive system breaks down food into nutrients your body needs to function properly. And when it comes to a healthy gut, bacteria plays a huge role. Balanced levels of healthy bacteria create normal gut flora and line the entire digestive system, synthesizing vitamin K, and promoting blood flow and enteric nerve functions.
Your diet and lifestyle can have a direct impact on your gut health. Here are signs of an unhealthy digestive system and what you can do to help it function efficiently and improve your overall health.
What are signs of an unhealthy digestive system?
Signs of an unhealthy digestive system may include:
- Weight gain: Unintentional weight gain or loss is one of the most common signs of an unhealthy gut. When your gut is not working properly, it can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Increased stress: An unhealthy gut can impact hormonal balance and contribute to stress, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
- Skin irritation: Skin problems such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and acne have been linked to an unhealthy digestive system.
- Bloating and gas: Even though gas is a normal part of the fermentation and digestion process in the body, improper digestion, and bad bacteria strains can lead to excessive gas. Gas trapped in the gut can cause uncomfortable or painful bloating and heartburn.
- Diarrhea: An unhealthy gut can cause diarrhea, which can further worsen gut health by causing good bacteria to flow out of the gut.
- Constipation: People suffering from constipation usually have a lower level of good gut bacteria, which impacts digestion.
- Sleep problems: An unhealthy gut can lead to poor sleep or insomnia. As sleep problems begin to mount and extend over a period, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, and other health issues can set in and complicate things even further.
6 ways to improve digestive health
Some effective ways to improve gut health include the following diet and lifestyle changes:
- Consume fiber-rich and probiotic-packed foods: Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that reduces the risk of metabolic diseases by stimulating the growth and diversity of good bacteria in the gut. Sweet potatoes, spinach, beets, carrots, and fennel are full of natural gut-enhancing fiber.
- Take probiotic supplements: Probiotic supplements can further contribute to the growth of good gut bacteria and restore gut health.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise in combination with a healthy diet leads to the production of good bacteria that helps produce a fatty acid called butyrate. This can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep and stress can negatively affect gut bacteria and overall gut health. Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep is essential to a healthy digestive system.
- Avoid animal products: Red meat, high-fat dairy products, and fried foods reduce the growth of healthy bacteria and enhance the growth of bad bacteria linked to chronic disease.
- Avoid antibiotics when not necessary: Although it is often necessary to take antibiotics to combat bacterial infections, overuse can damage gut microbiota as well as lead to antibiotic resistance.
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WebMD. Digestive Health Tips. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-health-tips#1