How Long Does It Take To Restore Gut Health: Find Out Here
Everyone seems to be talking about gut health these days, which might have you wondering whether you have an unhealthy gut? If so, how long does it take to restore gut health? This article will answer all these questions and more to get you on track to a healthy gut.
What Does “Gut Health” Mean?
“Gut health” is a term used to refer to the overall health of your digestive system. Your digestive system is made up of all of the organs that break down food so your body can absorb all the nutrients. Those nutrients are then turned into the fuel that keeps your body functioning properly and gives you the energy you need to live your life.
For a long time, there was less attention paid to the digestive system than there was to other bodily systems such as your immune system or endocrine system. However, new research has revealed the complexity of the digestive system. There are anywhere from 300-500 different species of bacteria that live in your gut and make up your gut microbiome. New research has shown a strong link between the health of your gut microbiome and your overall health.
For this reason, dieticians, nutritionists, and scientists are now paying more attention to the gut than ever before. Several chronic and autoimmune diseases are linked to an imbalance of microorganisms in your gut. This imbalance is also known as dysbiosis.
There are several factors that affect gut health, including diet, medication intake, and mental health. Although some of the factors that influence gut health are out of your control, there are several steps you can take at home to restore your gut health if you feel it has been compromised.
How Do I Know How Healthy My Gut Is?
There are several ways to assess the health of your gut, and, luckily, most of the signs of gut health are obvious and easy to detect.
Signs of a Healthy Gut
When your gut is healthy, you most likely won’t even be thinking about it. If you have a bowel movement one to three times a day that is easy and painless to pass, chances are you have a properly functioning gut.
It’s important to remember that even if you are going to the bathroom multiple times per day, the consistency of your stool matters. Your stool should not resemble the stool that accompanies diarrhea or constipation. It should be well-formed, and using the bathroom should not be difficult.
Another sign of a healthy gut is if you do not have extreme reactions to specific foods or external factors such as stress. For many people, their bodies cannot process certain foods such as lactose or dairy. If you have an extreme intolerance to specific foods, the only way to maintain a healthy gut is to remove them from your diet.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Unfortunately, the signs of an unhealthy gut are often painful and very obvious. Given that gut health can affect your overall health in general, there are several different signs you can look out for if you think your gut is not functioning properly. Some of these signs include:
- Upset stomach: Arguably the most common sign of an unhealthy gut is stomach discomfort. If you feel that you frequently experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or pain in your abdomen, then you might have an imbalance of bacteria in your gut.
- Weight fluctuation: Although more research is needed, it is known that there is a connection between the health of the gut microbiome and nutrient metabolism and energy expenditure. The research also shows that different obesity treatments change the gut microbiome and some high-fat diets also promote the growth of bacteria in the gut that is linked to obesity. These findings prove that there is a link between the gut microbiome and weight changes.
- Food cravings: Eating lots of unhealthy foods, especially foods with high amounts of sugar, can lead to an abundance of “bad” gut bacteria.
- Skin irritation: Another sign of an unhealthy gut might be skin irritation, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Scientists call the link between gut health and skin health the “gut-skin axis” and believe regulating your gut microbiome with prebiotics and probiotics might be one way to help reduce skin inflammation.
- Mood fluctuation: Given that there is a strong link between the gut and the brain, it is now thought that bacterial imbalances in the gut may be a cause of anxiety and depression. In some instances, symptoms of anxiety and depression might be a sign of bacterial imbalance in the gut.
How Long Does It Take To Restore Gut Health?
Although an unhealthy gut can have several negative impacts on your overall health, gut health can be restored relatively quickly! Recent research has shown that it can take as little as two to four days of healthy eating to begin changing your gut microbiome. More serious gut disturbances such as IBS might require medical attention.
If you are taking antibiotics, it can take slightly longer for your gut to recover from the medication. Usually, it takes about a month for your gut to recover from one cycle of antibiotics. This can vary considerably depending on the type of medication you take and your gut health prior to taking the medication.
If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of gut discomfort, there are several changes you can make at home.
Tips To Help Restore Gut Health
If you feel your gut is unhealthy, there are several changes you can make to your day-to-day life to restore your gut health. Some changes include:
- Dietary changes: If you eat a diet that is full of protein, sugar, processed foods, and fat, then you might want to consider making dietary changes. Try switching to a diet full of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Also, try incorporating fermented foods with probiotics and prebiotics, such as tepache. Depending on the cause of your bacterial imbalance, you should feel the effects of the change in just a few days.
- Reduce alcohol intake: If you regularly drink alcohol, try to limit your intake to a glass of red wine or done at all. Red wine might support beneficial bacteria, so in small amounts, it is helpful (or at least, it isn’t as harmful).
- Get enough sleep: When you are deprived of sleep, the bacteria in your gut can be altered. For this reason, it’s important to get enough sleep and to let your body wake up naturally. Sometimes, when you’re under a lot of stress and the bacterial balance in your gut is off, you need more sleep to help your body recover.
- Exercise: Although there is no clear link between exercise and gut health, there is a clear link between exercise and stress reduction. When you exercise, your body releases stress hormones that can positively affect the microbes in your gut.
- Take care of your teeth: Proper dental hygiene is another way to ensure that your gut microbiome stays healthy. When you have poor dental hygiene, bad bacteria can accumulate in your mouth and make their way to your gut, where they can cause harm.
If you feel your gut is unhealthy, there are several ways you can restore your gut health. The good news? Gut health can be restored relatively quickly depending on the cause of the bacterial imbalance.