Not gonna lie, until a few years ago I had no clue what “gut health” was. I have personally struggled with skin issues since I was young and after trying all the things, including perscription ointments and regimens, I was at my wits end because nothing could fully make them go away. The skin issues that I personally deal with are acne and psoriasis. I am 31 years old and just now able to feel comfortable in my own skin because of what I’ve learned about gut health and how it can directly impact so many parts of your body.
Here are the top signs that your gut bacteria is out of whack:
1. digestive issues (gas/bloating and consipation)
2. chronic unmanaged stress
3. mental issues (depression, anxiety, and brain fog)
4. skin problems (acne, eczema, psoriasis)
5. vitamin and mineral deficiencies (vitamin D, vitamin K, Magnesium, Vitamin B12 and B7)
6. autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease)
7. overuse of antibiotics
Your gut bacteria is crucial to your overall health and can affect both your body and brain. If you told someone ten years ago that what’s in your gut could influence your brain or even result in depression, you’d be laughed at. The idea that the bacteria that lives in your gastroinestinal tract plays an important role int he health of your brain is now a major focus of research and interest. So, what’s the connection between a healthy gut and mental health? When talking about a healthy gut, we are actually referring to what is called a microbiome. The microbiome has thousands of different types of bacteria (good and bad.) To have a health microbiome you would have more beneficial bacteria that helps prevent to much of the bad bacteria which can cause health issues. To maintain or make a healthy microbiome and support overall good health, it’s important to have a lot of beneficial bacteria.
Your gut health can be harmed by a wide range of factors… here are the top contributors:
1. drinking to much alcohol
2. overuse of antibitoics
3. lack of regular exercise
5. to much stress
6. not getting enough sleep
7. not eating a diverse range of foods
With those factors in mind, now lets focus on what you can do to promote a healthy gut and reduce depression.
1. First thing would be focusing on foods. Foods can literally change your body from the inside out, making sure to incorporate probiotic and prebiotic foods will help correct gut health. Probiotic foods contain live bacteria whereas prebiotic foods contain ingredients like certain types of fiber that nature the growth of bacteria.
2. Second thing would be focusing on a probiotic supplement. Not just any probiotic supplement. You want one with over 100 Billion CFUs to maintain a healthy gut flora. Although you can get probiotics from your food, it can be difficult to eat all the foods with probiotics or get enough on a daily basis. This is why you want to get a probiotic supplement to take daily. I do want to include that one dose of antibiotics can alter your microbiome for twelve months. Antibiotics are known for killing the good and the bad gut bacteria. Here is the particular brand of probiotics that I use (click here.)
3. Third focus would be consuming plenty of plants and dietary fiber. The food that you eat provides your body with the nutrients that help either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bacteria thrive. A diet consisting of a wide variety of Whole Foods such as vegetables, fruit and whole rains and lead to a more diverse gut flora. Eating a diet rich in plants and dietary fiber fuels your body with natural products, encouraging a healthy and balanced gut.
4. Fourth focus would be getting consistent sleep. I know that this can be hard (#momlife) but it’s SO important for your overall wellbeing. Disrupting your body clock through shift work or eating late at night may have harmful effects on your gut bacteria. In one study, just two days of sleep deprivation caused subtle changes to the gut bacteria.
5. Our fifth focus would be on lowering your stress levels. High stress levels can lead to harmful effects on the mind and body. Within the gut, stress can increase sensitivity, reduce blood flow, and alter the gut bacteria. One way to lower your stress levels is to incorporate meditation into your routine. Meditation can help stabilize your mood and reduce inflammation.
Overall, your gut health is connected to everything! I strongly urge you to start looking into what it is, how it works and why you need a good balanced gut microbiome. I love this book called “The Dirt Cure,” I first read it many years ago and it really helped me put a lot of things into perspective.