Why do you have bad gut health?
The gut is often referred to as the second brain. That’s because it controls every aspect of your body, from digestion to skin health, brain, and the immune system. When it is not working right, it affects your whole body. So, why do you have bad gut health?
When you have an unhealthy gut, it can take a toll on your whole body. However, the body has a way of sending signals when something is not right. As for the gut, one may experience a range of symptoms, including upset stomach, skin irritation, unintentional weight changes, constant fatigue, and autoimmune conditions.
While symptoms reflect an underlying cause, understanding these causes may help you make necessary changes to improve your symptoms and restore your gut health.
This article takes you through the 8 common causes of an unhealthy gut
1. Excessive stress levels
Prolonged stress can put a toll on your mental, psychological, and physical health, including a disruption in your digestive system.
Too much stress results in gut-related symptoms such as loss of appetite, bloating, cramping, inflammation, increased susceptibility to gut infections, and interference with various gut functions, including nutrient absorption.
Stress activates the flight-or-fight mode in the central nervous system. This affects your gut in various ways, including increasing your stomach acidity, leading to indigestion, promoting diarrhoea or constipation, and causing the oesophagus to go into spasm.
In severe cases, stress may decrease blood flow and oxygen supply to the gut, causing inflammation, cramping, and an imbalance in the gut bacteria. This may, as a result, worsen pre-existing gut conditions such as peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Also, too much of the stress hormone cortisol has been associated with increased appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods like sugar processed foods, which will further damage the gut.
2. Inadequate sleep
Adequate sleep plays an important role in maintaining overall health, including boosting the immune system, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, improving your mood, and lowering the risk for various conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Not getting enough sleep can increase your stress levels, leading to gut issues like inflammation, food sensitivities, and bloating, all of which disrupt the normal gut microbiome.
In one study, two-day sleep deprivation caused subtle changes to the gut with an increase in the harmful gut bacteria associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and more.
3. Processed foods
Processed foods, including processed carbohydrates and sugar, are great contributors to inflammation, giving room for other gut-related and unrelated health conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. These foods are also high in preservatives, additives, and trans fats, all of which may facilitate a more severe condition such as cancer.
4. Cigarette smoking
The elements in tobacco cause harm to nearly every organ in the body, including the gut. In fact, smoking is a major risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract).
According to research, people who smoke have twice the risk of developing Crohn’s disease than those who don’t smoke.
If you are a chronic smoker, stopping it all at once may not be effective as you are likely to fall back. However, tapering down the number of sticks used in a day will be more practical. This can help restore your gut and protect you from other associated issues.
Furthermore, research shows that smoking cessation may promote gut flora and increase the diversity of good bacteria.
5. Physical inactivity
Inactivity often leads to poor blood flow to the gut, a sluggish digestive system, and a loss of microbial diversity. This may increase your risk of inflammation and chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Physical activity enhances general health, including digestive health.
For instance, exercise has been shown to promote the growth of butyrate-producing bacteria. Butyrate is a fatty acid that can reduce inflammation and repair damaged gut lining, potentially preventing conditions such as insulin resistance and inflammatory bowel disease.
6. Excess alcohol intake
High alcohol consumption is a major cause of dysbiosis, a disruption in gut microbiota due to an imbalance in the microflora, changes in their metabolic activities and functional composition, and a shift in their local distribution.
In a study to compare dysbiosis in 41 alcoholics and ten non-alcoholics, 27 percent of the alcoholic group had dysbiosis while the other group had non.
7. Excessive antibiotic use
Antibiotics are drugs that treat infections caused by bacteria by killing them and preventing their proliferation. This has helped save lives for over the past 80 years. However, antibiotics are not selective of the type of bacteria they attack, so they’ll kill both harmful and beneficial.
Antibiotics often cause a short-term decline in beneficial bacteria, rendering your immunity weak.
One study found that after one course of antibiotics, it takes about 1-4 weeks before the bacteria return, and even if they do, they don’t usually meet the previous number.
A different study found that a single course of antibiotics decreased the diversity of the most dominant bacterial groups but increased the number of resistant strains. These effects lasted for two years post-treatment.
Taking probiotics throughout your antibiotic course may lower such effects. A probiotic is a supplement containing live bacteria similar to the good ones in the gut. This will help replace the ones lost, thus helping regulate your gut and keep things normal.
8. Lack of prebiotics
Prebiotics are foods that feed good gut bacteria, thus promoting their growth and diversity.
This, in turn, promotes digestive health and its functions. A diet low on this nutrient can deprive the gut bacteria, causing a decrease in function and facilitating the harmful bacteria instead.
How to improve gut health?
- Increase your probiotic and prebiotic intake
- Manage your stress levels – Things like engaging in exercise, including breathing exercises, and talking to a psychologist, would help.
- Get enough sleep
- Consuming foods high I polyphenol antioxidant
- Eliminate processed foods
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Quitting smoking
So, why do you have bad gut health?
Your gut controls every aspect of your health, including the ability to fight infection and keep you healthy. However, this can be disrupted by unhealthy lifestyle habits and factors including poor diet, too much alcohol, smoking, lack of enough sleep, physical inactivity, and excessive use of medications, especially antibiotics.
On the other hand, a healthy lifestyle characterized by a healthy diet, physical activity, a variety of whole foods, and an improved ability to manage stress may help keep your gut healthy and highly functional.
Other related lifestyle articles:
- High Fiber Gluten Free Foods
- How To Boost Your Immune System
- Plant-Based Sources of Zinc
- Vegan Brain Booster Foods
- 10 Foods That Boost The Immune System
- Vitamins and Minerals to Boost Metabolism
- How To Stay Healthy When Traveling
- Eating Healthy Food On A Budget
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