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What Is Gut Health? The Complete Beginners Guide

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Gut health has become an major topic of discussion in recent years. This is due to the fact that the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the gut, is of vital importance to overall health. It plays a significant role in carrying food from the mouth, digesting it in the stomach, converting the food particles to nutrients for functioning of the body and expelling waste out of the body. These processes are of primary importance to human health.

In recent years, extensive research has been carried out on this topic and studies show that a healthy gastrointestinal tract has far greater importance for the human body than previously thought. Gut health is also linked to the immune system and anxiety disorders. Some studies indicate that poor gut health may have serious consequences such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. Recently, anxiety and depression have also been suggested to be related to poor gut health.

Microorganisms in the Gastrointestinal Tract:

Trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes reside in our gut. They are primarily responsible for digesting food and expelling waste. However, they are also linked to the overall health of the human body.

An imbalance in the level of microbes in the gut deteriorates overall health. It is believed that an increase in bacteria harms the effective functioning of the gut. However, most of these studies are still in their early stages.


Inflammation is one of the main issues of the gut. A healthy gut has two types of bacteria: one fights inflammation and the other type stimulates it. An imbalance between these two types of bacteria causes inflammation to pass on to other parts of the body.

What Affects Gut Health?

This question has led many scientists to carry out extensive research. The following factors contribute to the bacterial makeup of the gut:


As it is often said, we are what we eat. The food we consume has a direct impact on our health. That is why our meals should consist of a variety of healthy food items.

Method of delivery at birth

Good gut health is more common in children who are born naturally as compared to those delivered via c-section. The microbes present in the birth canal assist in improving gut health.

Breastfeeding or formula feeding

In addition to the many benefits of breastfeeding, babies who are breastfed tend to develop a better variety of microbes in their gut, providing them lifelong benefits.

External surroundings

Environments that are excessively cleaned can be detrimental to the human body. Children should be encouraged to play outside and encounter various bacteria in the surroundings to develop immunity.

Stress and anxiety

Microbes in the gut have a direct impact on the mental state of a person. If there is an imbalance, they can impact the neurotransmitters in the brain and affect one’s mood.

Here are some additional tips for that! How to Deal with Anxiety: 8 Things You Can Do Right Now

Use of antibiotics

Antibiotics kill the infection-causing (“bad”) bacteria in the body. However, during the process, they also wipe out many of the beneficial (“good”) bacteria in the gut.

Sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle causes various problems for human health. It increases the chances of obesity and metabolic syndrome and also reduces gut health.

Health Problems Indicating Poor Gut Health:

So, how will a person be able to distinguish an issue related to gut health? The following symptoms are commonly linked to poor gut health:

  • Diarrhea;
  • Stomach pain;
  • Bloating;
  • Nausea.    

Always make sure you take care of your gut health and, in case of persistence of the symptoms mentioned above, make sure you consult a general physician or a gastroenterologist for timely treatment of the problem.

So now that you know a bit more about gut health- here are some ways to improve it!

Tips to Improve Gut Health

Around 300 to 500 different species of bacteria reside in our digestive tract. Many studies have shown that an imbalance between these microorganisms can be associated with poor immunity, type 2 diabetes and anxiety. Here are some practical things that you can do to improve your gut health.

Here is a list of day-to-day actions you can take to improve your gut health:

  1. Consume a healthy diet;
  2. Avoid carbonated drinks;
  3. Meditation and relaxation techniques;
  4. Stay hydrated;
  5. Eat slowly;
  6. Get uninterrupted sleep;
  7. Take prebiotics or probiotics;
  8. Identify food intolerances.

Consume a healthy diet

A balanced diet is critical for a healthy living. Your diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, proteins, fats and fibers. Plant-based and high fiber diets promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Seeds, legumes and nuts are also beneficial for the overall health of the digestive tract.

Avoid carbonated drinks

Carbonated drinks have high sugar content that harms microbial health. The acid in carbonated drinks also encourages the growth of harmful bacteria that cause stomachaches and diarrhea.

Meditation and relaxation techniques

Stress and anxiety can have a grave impact on your gut health. A person should try to relax both the body and mind using the following techniques:

  • Meditation;
  • Walking or jogging outdoors;
  • Breathing exercises;
  • Limiting caffeine;
  • Yoga.

Stay hydrated

The human body is made up of more than 60% of water. A person should drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Water keeps the right balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract and protects the mucosal lining of the gut.

Eat slowly

Eating slowly and chewing food properly improves the absorption of nutrients. This aids in the process of digestion too. It also assists in reducing stomach aches and acid reflux.

Get uninterrupted sleep

Experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sound sleep daily. We often neglect the importance of sleep and do not prioritize it on a regular basis. Poor sleeping habits have a detrimental effect on the balance of microbes in the gut. If you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep Take prebiotics and probiotics

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Probiotics are healthy live bacteria whereas prebiotics provide food to assist the growth of these healthy bacteria in the gut. However, please consult your general physician before starting to use these to avoid interactions or adverse effects.

Identify food intolerances

Some people can be intolerant to certain food items. The symptoms of food intolerance can include diarrhea, abdominal pain and acid reflux. If these symptoms persist, a person should consult a general practitioner and after blood test results these food items should be removed from their diet.

Gut health is critical for the human body. A person must take care of the gut health so that it may perform its functions effectively. Try to develop a healthy lifestyle and always consult a doctor before taking any medication for improving your gut health.

Now that you know some ways to improve your gut health- here are some things that may be hurting it!

Daily Mistakes That are Damaging Your Gut Health

In this section, we will explain the most common mistakes that you incur on an almost daily basis and how these mistakes can impact the genome of the gut.

The following mistakes can hurt your gut health:

  1. Anxiety and stress;
  2. Dehydration;
  3. Sleep deprivation;
  4. Strenuous and prolonged exercise sessions;
  5. Little exposure to sunlight;
  6. High consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs.

Anxiety and Stress

Too much stress and anxiety have a direct impact on the hormone ‘cortisol’. This hormone is responsible for the ‘flight or fight’ mechanism in the human body. An increased release of this hormone disrupts the gut functioning as the stomach releases fewer secretions for the digestion of food.


Doctors frequently emphasize the need to keep yourself well-hydrated. The human body is made up of 60 to 80 percent water. Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily is critical for the proper functioning of the gut. When a person is dehydrated, the mucosal lining of the gut starts deteriorating.

Sleep Deprivation

Inadequate sleep disturbs the balance of microbes in the gut as well as the body’s internal clock. This leads to the release of cortisol hormone. Fewer hours of sleep causes a reduction of the ‘good’ gut bacteria. Experts recommend 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep every night. A disturbed bacterial genome in the gut enhances the cravings for high sugar content food like junk food.

Strenuous and Prolonged Exercise Sessions

Exercise is beneficial for the overall health of a person. However, too much high-intensity exercise can lead to the disruption of hormonal levels. Intense exercise sessions cause ‘leaky gut’ and secretion of cortisol. A high level of the cortisol hormone disrupts the digestion process and leads to diarrhea, bloating and acid reflux.

If you are needing a simple but effective exercise program try these Workout Plans

Little Exposure to Sunlight

As we all know, sunlight is essential for vitamin D production in the human body. In addition to vitamin D, recent studies indicate that exposure to sunlight promotes the diversity of microbes in the gut region. Our busy schedules deprive us of outdoor time like taking a stroll in the park or enjoying time in the sunlight. This causes a deficiency of essential vitamins in our body.

High Consumption of NSAIDs

Usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) disrupts the balance of microbes in the gut region and may cause gas, bloating and diarrhea.

The mistakes mentioned above can damage the gut region and lead to stomach aches, diarrhea, nausea and bloating. One should adopt measures to avoid these mistakes and in case of persistent symptoms consult a general physician or gastroenterologist for treatment. One major change that can be made in the diet is to consume microbiome-friendly food like Greek yogurt and bananas or probiotics like the one above.

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