7 Reasons Why You Should Care about Your Gut Health

A variety of plant foods and vegetables help nourish your gut microbiome. (Image via Pexels @Ella Olsson)
A variety of plant foods and vegetables help nourish your gut microbiome. (Image via Pexels @Ella Olsson)

Gut health plays an important role in your overall physical as well as mental well-being. When something doesn't feel right in your gut, it's usually a sign that something is wrong. Gut feelings can come from both the brain and the stomach.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it's usually a sign that you need to start caring more about your gut health. It's a long-term feeling of pain in the stomach and trouble digesting food.


Why Gut Health is Important

Check out these seven reasons why you should focus on your gut health:

1) Improves Metabolism

Gut health can have a big impact on what nutrients your body absorbs from the food you eat. They also help determine how many calories and energy you take in.

There's a direct link between the microbiome and how genes code for fat deposits, which is called genetic expression. When you eat foods that are highly processed and are high in sugar, starch and unhealthy fats, your body usually responds with high levels of inflammation, which can help 'bad' bacteria grow in your gut.

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This bacteria can crowd out the 'good' bacteria and cause your body to make too much insulin. That tells your body to stop burning fat and start storing it.

When you switch to foods with healthy fats and high fibre that support healthy bacteria, this inflammation will start to go away and your metabolism will start over. That will help you manage your weight better.


2) Improves Immune System

In addition to breaking down food, one of the most important benefits of gut health is to help keep your immune system strong. Your gut is where more than 80% of your body's immune system is. It means damage to the intestines' thin cell walls can have a big effect on the body.

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The gut is where most autoimmune problems have their origin. As bacteria, viruses and other toxins are often there in food, a healthy gut is important for fighting off infections.


3) Improves Athletic Performance

Gut health can have a big impact on how well you do in the gym. They keep your energy up and help you recover after a workout.

Gut microbes are important for making short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and essential nutrients the body needs for many important functions. When you work out, your metabolism speeds up, which means your body needs more energy to do what it needs to do.

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If you work out a lot, having a healthy intestinal environment can only help you. When you eat foods that your gut microbes like, especially fibre, your carb metabolism and SCFA production go up. That means your muscles turn over faster, and you're healthier overall.

Exercise also helps your body make more butyrate, which has many benefits, including keeping your digestive system healthy. One of its main roles is to give energy to the cells that line your gut. Butyrate can help fight inflammation, keep your gut barrier strong and keep you from getting sick.


4) Helps in Hydration and Fluid Transport

Physical activity makes you thirsty, as your body loses water through sweating and breathing. That makes you more likely to get dehydrated, especially when you're working out for a long time. Water is important to life and helps keep your gut healthy.

Interestingly, gut health helps keep you well-hydrated when you work out. In other words, it makes the body better able to use water. Dehydration makes it harder to work out, so it's important to keep water levels even.

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Studies have shown that microbes in your gut affect how electrolytes like sodium and potassium move through the gut lining, impacting hydration. The intestinal barrier works well when water moves through the body, and the mucosa stays moist.


5) Reduces Cravings

Microbes can make you want to eat certain things. Researchers think microbes control what you eat by making you want certain foods. For example, a bunch of unhealthy bacteria might make you want a cheeseburger and fries instead of a salad.

However, eating a healthy diet full of foods that are good for your gut health can make you stop wanting junk food. So you'll start making better choices in a short amount of time.


6) Increases Happiness

Your gut has more neurotransmitters than your brain. In fact, the gut is where more than 70% of the feel-good hormone serotonin is made. Serotonin controls mood, sleep, and memory. When your gut health is out of whack, your mood changes, and you might feel more anxious or sad.

In a study published in the journal 'Brain, Behavior and Immunity', it was found that women who took a probiotic supplement of 'good' bacteria every day for four weeks had lot less bad thoughts than those who took a placebo.


7) Your Skin Will Literally Glow

When you can't get all the nutrients from the food you eat, you'll be able to tell in the mirror. If your gut health isn't up to the mark, you may have less hair, weaker nails and more spots on your skin.

Studies show that more than half the people with acne have problems with their gut flora, and rosacea has been linked with an imbalance of bacteria. Research also shows that probiotics can help make boththese things better. If you're healthy on the inside, you may also look healthier.

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Edited by Bhargav