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Why You Should Look After Your Gut

Updated on:

Jun 6, 2019

at: / Edited by: Umer Idrisi
Why You Should Look After Your Gut
Your gut’s health is important.

It may not be an organ that you’ve thought much about, but it can provide numerous essential bodily functions.

Here are just a few reasons to start looking after your gut…

Your gut helps to absorb nutrients essential to the rest of your body


A healthy gut is more efficient at absorbing vitamins and minerals essential for all our bodily organs. If your gut is unhealthy, you could find that such nutrients aren’t being absorbed.

This could cause your whole body to underperform because it’s not getting the right fuel it needs.

Your gut plays an important part in your immune system

Your gut also plays an essential part in your body’s immune system. In fact, 70% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut, helping us to identify and ward off germs and foreign bodies.

When your gut isn’t functioning properly, you could be left more susceptible to bugs and illnesses. Unhealthy balances of bad bacteria could even cause your body’s immune system to start attacking its own cells (known as an autoimmune disorder).

90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut

Much of our body’s serotonin – the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy – is produced in the gut. People with gut problems such as IBS can usually experience unexplained depression.

This is usually because they’re not producing enough serotonin, and so may fail to get that sense of reward they once got. All in all, a bad gut can be very bad for one’s mental health.

Gut problems can be physically debilitating

Gut issues often result in incredible pain and discomfort. This can make it very difficult to find the motivation to be physically active – walking a long distance when you’re bloated and in a lot of pain can be too much to endure.

Gut problems may also lead to diarrhea, which can make it impossible to do many tasks in fear of not being able to get to the toilet. Some people with IBS can even end up quitting jobs or avoiding social situations due to gut problems. 

How can you look after your gut?

Most people only start caring about gut health once they start developing gut issues. The likes of IBS can strike at any time and are surprisingly common – 10–15% of the population is believed to suffer from this condition. The exact cause of many gut issues is unknown, but there are strong links to diet and lifestyle choices.

Here are just some of the top ways in which you may be able to keep your gut healthy and possibly reduce the risk of conditions like IBS and Chron’s disease.

Destress

Long-term stress is thought to have many negative effects on the digestive system. When stressed, our body prioritizes certain bodily functions, whilst neglecting other functions such as digestion. As a result, many people who are severely stressed may develop constipation or diarrhea. It’s believed that long-term stress can also increase susceptibility to gut infections.

There are lots of ways to destress such as taking hot baths, meditating, exercising and listening to music. You should try to spare yourself time to destress at the end of each day.

Alternatively, consider whether there are any stress triggers that you can remove from your life such as a job that’s wearing you down. Long-term stress could also cause other health problems after all such as heart disease, depression, and anxiety.

Chew your food more thoroughly

Not chewing your food properly can create more work for your gut. This, in turn, is thought to lead to many gut issues.

Studies suggest we should be chewing each mouthful of food an average of 32 times. Obviously, certain softer foods like watermelon may not need this many chews, whilst tougher foods like steak may need to be chewed even more.

Identify food allergies

A common cause of IBS-related symptoms is an allergy to a specific type of food or ingredient. Two of the most widespread food allergies that cause digestive problems are lactose and gluten.

If you start to notice issues, it could be worth trying a week or two without these triggers to see if your gut health improves. Ignoring these triggers could cause permanent damage to your gut and result in chronic IBS regardless of what you’re eating.

Eat lots of fiber

Fiber is necessary for keeping food flowing through us. Most of us don’t get enough fiber or rely on unhealthy forms of fiber. Pasta, bread, berries, broccoli, carrots, and banana are all sources of fiber and are worth incorporating into your diet.

Get your fix of probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria and yeasts that help to keep our gut’s bacteria balance in check. As mentioned earlier, too much bad bacteria can be bad for our body’s immune system – you want enough good bacteria in your body to stop this from happening.

The likes of probiotic yoghurt are great for encouraging good gut health. Other foods such as sauerkraut and kefir can also help.

Drink more water

Drinking lots of water helps to flush harmful bugs and substances out of the gut. Not drinking enough water commonly leads to constipation and a lot of discomforts. We should all be drinking 8 glasses of water per day.

Reduce soft drinks

Soft drinks are bad for the gut for numerous reasons. They’re full of sugar, which can encourage bad bacteria to thrive. They’re also full of gas, which can cause bloating.

Soft drinks aren’t just unhealthy for the gut – they’re also bad for our teeth, our blood sugar levels and our weight (excess sugar often gets stored as fat).

Try to drink no more than one soft drink per day and you could find that your general health increases drastically.

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