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.

See How Much Fiber A Day, How Much Water To Drink Daily To Lose Weight, and Foods That Burn Belly Fat?

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.

man bent over with stomach pain, why do you have bad gut health

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

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with more than 480,000 deaths in 2013. The harmful effects of cigarette smoking on the body are well documented and include lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and numerous other illnesses. Nicotine is the primary addictive component of cigarettes, and it affects the body in a number of ways.

Nicotine negatively impacts blood flow and circulation. It also increases blood pressure and causes atherosclerosis, a condition that can lead to heart disease. In addition to these direct effects on the body, nicotine and other harmful compounds in cigarettes also affect the gut microbiome.

It alters gut flora in a way that can promote inflammation and unhealthy gut bacteria. This increased inflammation can lead to obesity, type-2 diabetes, and other illnesses.
Also, smoking cigarettes increases the risk of developing Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract) and ulcerative colitis by up to 70%. In fact, smoking is a major risk factor for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease 

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

Drinking alcohol may seem like fun for some people, but it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks. Not only can alcohol damage your liver and brain, but it can also damage your gut health. Here are four ways alcohol can harm your gut:

1. Alcohol inhibits the growth of healthy gut bacteria

When you drink alcohol, it interferes with the normal function of gut bacteria. This can cause an imbalance in your gut flora and lead to digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea. In addition, heavy drinking can increase the risk for gastrointestinal cancer later on in life.

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.

2. Alcohol damages the lining of your gut

Drinking alcohol causes inflammation in your gut wall. This inflammation can lead to damage to the cells that line your intestines, which can create holes in the intestinal wall. This can allow food particles and other harmful materials to enter your bloodstream, resulting in a leaky gut that can cause serious health problems.

3. Alcohol disrupts your metabolism

Alcohol consumption can interfere with how your body processes food, leading to weight gain and obesity. In addition, drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

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.

older woman with stomach pain, pills and water in foreground on table

9. Vegetable oils

Studies suggest that there may be a link between vegetable oil consumption and gut health issues. For example, research has shown that vegetable oils can increase the risk of gut inflammation.

Additionally, The American Heart Association warns that eating large amounts of certain types of vegetable oils can increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. For example, consuming more than 6 g/day of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids has been linked with an increased risk for heart disease. And consuming more than 3 g/day of monounsaturated omega-3 fatty acids has been linked with a decreased risk for heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

Vegetable oils can also contribute to diabetes, obesity, and even some types of cancer. So if you’re looking to improve your gut health, it may be a good idea to cut down on your intake of vegetable oils.

10. Dairy

Dairy is one of the leading causes of bad gut health. Not only is dairy high in saturated fat and cholesterol, but it also contains antibiotics and hormones that can disrupt the normal function of your gut bacteria. These harmful chemicals can lead to inflammation and autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease and psoriasis. If you’re struggling with gut issues, swapping out dairy for an alternative like plant milk can help improve your gut health and relieve symptoms.

11. Carbonated drinks

Carbonated beverages are not just fizzy and fun- they can also have a negative impact on your gut health. Most people know that these drinks are high in sugar, but many don’t realize that these sugary drinks also contain artificial sweeteners, which can cause inflammation.

In addition, the high levels of caffeine in carbonated beverages can also upset the balance of gut bacteria and cause further inflammation. So if you’re looking to improve your gut health, avoiding carbonated beverages like soda and store-bought juices is a good place to start.

12. Lack of probiotics

A probiotic is a live microorganism that helps improve digestive health. Probiotics are found in many foods and supplements, and can be helpful for both adults and children.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably not eating enough probiotics. And if you’re not eating enough probiotics, you’re not getting the health benefits they offer. Here’s why you need to start incorporating them into your diet:

  1. Probiotics help promote healthy digestion.

A good probiotic helps to protect your gut mucosa from damage, which can help to improve your digestion. They also help stimulate the production of bile, which helps break down foodstuffs and get them absorbed.

2. Probiotics help promote a healthy immune system.

Probiotics help to keep your immune system functioning properly by aiding in the production of lactic acid and beneficial gut bacteria. In turn, this keeps you free from infections and boosts your overall defense against disease.

3. Probiotics support healthy weight gain and metabolism.

Probiotics have been shown to support healthy weight gain and metabolic function by helping to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of obesity or type 2 diabetes. They also help to improve the absorption of key nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins, which can help to improve your overall health.

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, dairy and dairy products, 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:

  1. High Fiber Gluten Free Foods
  2. How To Boost Your Immune System
  3. Plant-Based Sources of Zinc
  4. Vegan Brain Booster Foods
  5. 10 Foods That Boost The Immune System
  6. Vitamins and Minerals to Boost Metabolism
  7. How To Stay Healthy When Traveling
  8. Eating Healthy Food On A Budget

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