How To Heal Your Gut: 5 Symptoms and 5 Remedies
If you think your gut health has been compromised, we have good news for you. There are several ways you can heal your gut at home! Check out this article to learn more about the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut and a few at-home remedies you can try to heal your gut microbiome.
Overview of the Gut Microbiome
The “gut microbiome” is a term used to describe the complex population of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your gut and help keep you healthy. Although we normally talk about bacteria as something that has a negative effect on our health, there are between 300 and 500 species of beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive system. Part of what helps you maintain a healthy gut microbiome is having a rich, diverse population of bacteria in your gut.
Although more research needs to be done, it is known that there is a strong link between the health of the bacteria in your gut and your overall health. Specifically, it is thought that gut health is linked to the health of your immune system, mental health, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, and hormonal regulation.
Given that the health of your “gut microbiome” is integral to your overall health, it is important to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. There are bacteria in your gut that cause inflammation and bacteria that reduce inflammation. Although you need both to be healthy, at certain times, there is an excess of bacteria that cause inflammation which can lead to illness. There are several remedies you can try at home to establish and maintain a healthy bacterial equilibrium in your digestive system.
Symptoms of an Unhealthy Gut
Before we get to five of the best at-home remedies for improving your gut health, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Although these are some of the more common symptoms, it’s important to remember that the signs of an unhealthy gut will look and feel different for everyone.
The most obvious sign of an unhealthy gut is stomach discomfort. This discomfort can manifest in a number of ways, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, heartburn, and general stomach aches. Given that your digestive system is responsible for processing food, absorbing nutrients, and creating waste, passing bowel movements becomes increasingly difficult and painful when it is not functioning properly.
When you frequently consume foods with lots of added sugars that are highly processed, the amount of good bacteria in your gut decreases. As this happens and the balance of bacteria in your gut is compromised, you begin to crave more sugar which continues to damage your gut microbiome.
For this reason, if you find yourself constantly craving sugar and processed foods, it might be a sign that the good bacteria in your gut needs to be restored.
Another sign of an unhealthy gut might be skin irritation. Common skin conditions such as eczema are thought to be linked to a compromised gut microbiome. As we mentioned earlier, when the bacterial equilibrium in your gut is unbalanced, the bacteria that cause inflammation leak out of your gut and into your body. This bacteria may irritate the skin and lead to certain skin conditions.
Much like skin irritation, there are several different causes of disturbed sleep or constant fatigue. If you feel like you are experiencing unusually bad sleep, one cause might be an unhealthy gut.
Serotonin is the hormone that affects and regulates sleep and mood. It is created in the gut, so when your gut is damaged, your body’s ability to create serotonin is compromised. If this happens, then you might experience insomnia which can lead to feeling constantly tired and low on energy.
If it seems like your weight is fluctuating and you aren’t doing anything to intentionally cause this change, such as making dietary changes or switching up your exercise routine, then the fluctuation might be a sign of an unhealthy gut. When your gut is not functioning properly, your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, absorb nutrients from food, and store fat is impeded.
If you are inexplicably losing weight, there might be too much bacteria growing in your small intestine. If you are gaining weight for no apparent reason, you might be developing insulin resistance or overeating to compensate for your body’s inability to absorb nutrients.
Remedies to Improve Gut Health
Although the symptoms of an unhealthy gut can be uncomfortable and even painful at times, there are several remedies you can try to improve your gut health. Luckily, these remedies can work incredibly quickly, depending on the reason for your compromised gut health.
Upgrade Your Diet
The first thing you can do to improve your gut health is to change what’s going into your gut in the first place. If you eat a lot of processed, sugary, and fatty foods, you might want to think about cutting them out of your diet entirely or greatly reducing the amount of them you eat per day. Instead of reaching for a processed snack or sugar-filled drink, you can substitute in foods that are high in fiber or plant-based.
Out With The Bad Habits, In With The New
Several habits can compromise your gut health, including drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, smoking, and eating too quickly. Try limiting the alcohol you drink to an occasional glass of red wine and slowing down when you eat so that you can give your body more time to absorb the nutrients in your food.
Catch Up On Sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, your gut health might be at risk, and the less healthy your gut microbiome is, the worse your sleep will be. Given that there is a clear link between the quality of your sleep and the health of your gut, it is important to get seven to eight solid hours of sleep per night.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Although it sounds like a simple remedy, drinking lots of water truly can improve your gut health. It is thought that water can positively benefit the lining of your intestines and promote good bacterial growth in your gut.
Incorporate Both Probiotics and Prebiotics Into Your Diet
If you think there are not enough beneficial bacteria in your gut, you can give that population a boost by consuming foods and drinks with probiotic bacteria. Oftentimes, fermented foods such as tepache contain probiotic bacteria that can help restore the bacterial balance in your gut. If you’re going to incorporate probiotics into your diet, make sure you also include prebiotics. Prebiotics are high-fiber foods that pass through your small intestine undigested and become food for probiotic bacteria once it enters the colon.
There are several signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut, including stomach pain, sugar cravings, skin conditions, disturbed sleep, and unexplained weight fluctuations. While all of these symptoms can negatively affect your day-to-day life, there are also several at-home remedies you can try to heal your gut.
Perhaps the most beneficial way to give your gut a boost is to make dietary changes which can include incorporating more high-fiber foods and probiotics into your diet and cutting out sugar, processed, and fatty foods.
Sugar Keeps Good Gut Microbes At Bay | NOVA | PBS | NOVA
The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis | NCBI
Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans | NCBI