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Signs you have poor gut health — and how to beat it

An excess of bad bacteria in the stomach may be the cause of your chronic discomfort. But how can you address it?

Signs you have poor gut health — and how to beat it

Good dietary habits are essential to maintaining your family's gut health. Photo: JR Life Sciences

You may not realise it, but a healthy gut is crucial to your physical and mental well-being. Apart from repairing cells, it keeps you functioning at your best.

And the gut works in tandem with the immune system to support two important functions: To promote the development of good bacteria, and to prevent bad bacteria (or microbes) from flourishing.

In the presence of good bacteria, your immune cells – around 70 per cent of which are located in the gut – flourish. 

It’s exactly why a strong immune system has the ability to impact the whole body, from your heart and brain to the quality of your sleep.

Central to your gut health is something called the gut flora — a composition of bacteria, yeast and viruses located in the digestive tract. These microorganisms break down food, allowing nutrients to be effectively absorbed by the body thanks to a surplus of good bacteria.

Unfortunately, even nutritious foods may contain microbes.

And when an imbalance occurs, these microbes aggravate the small intestine by allowing undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream.

Recognising this as a threat, the immune system attempts to fight back by boosting blood flow in the affected area. The response inadvertently causes bloating, indigestion and constipation, or prolonged discomfort after a meal.

NOT ALL FOODS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Fortunately, poor dietary habits are something that can be fixed for the benefit of your gut health in the long term.

Processed and sugar-laden foods are often the main culprits behind stomach issues as they contain a higher ratio of bad bacterial products such as endotoxins. In cases where these endotoxins enter the gut lining, the gut becomes inflamed — raising your chances of developing an autoimmune disease or skin condition such as eczema.

Food intolerances are another indicator of poor gut health. Not to be confused with food allergies, the former may occur when the gut has inadequate good bacteria. Keeping a record of your meals is a simple way of identifying certain intolerances, particularly if you regularly face digestive issues like diarrhoea or constipation.

STRESS AND YOUR GUT

Ever been placed in a situation that left you tingly with nerves — like a big presentation to an important client? Chances are, you may have felt intensely queasy, and even developed a stomachache.

While this scenario sits in the extreme, it’s a classic example of how anxiety or stress could indirectly affect your overall gut health.

The nervous system is intrinsically linked — and when you’re tense or fraught with worry, the brain sends signals to the gastrointestinal system, which may cause gut bacteria to be altered.

It’s also why you might face problems falling asleep. When the body experiences high levels of stress or worry, it inevitably leads to the delayed production of serotonin — the chemical that regulates moods and sleep patterns.

Find small ways to identify and combat your sources of stress — whether by writing, confiding in a close friend, going for long walks or doing yoga. And make it a point to get ample rest. Ideally, you should aim for at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly.

PROBIOTICS AND GUT HEALTH

Thankfully, restoring balance to the gut flora doesn’t require great effort — but it does involve making conscious changes to your lifestyle and diet.

For starters, try incorporating fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi and miso into your diet — or fibrous foods like sweet potato and oatmeal.

You could also consider complementing your meals with probiotic supplements such as Holistic Way Probiotic 75 Billion 30s, which might give your gut health a much-needed boost.

These supplements contain 12 probiotic strains, including lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium longum, which aid digestion and maintain the stomach’s natural acidity — while at once introducing good bacteria into the digestive tract using a delayed release formulation.

The addition of the unique Howaru Restore probiotic blend in these supplements aims to restore healthy bowel movements in an upset system, and could boost your immune system over time.

As much as probiotic supplements are loaded with good bacteria, though, good gut health starts with eating and living right — so make wise food choices, and find ways to alleviate your sources of stress.

Holistic Way Probiotic 75 Billion 30s is available at Guardian, Watsons and Unity Pharmacies, as well as major departmental stores. Visit jrlifesciences.com or call 6425 4100 to find out more.

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