Today’s busy, fast-paced lifestyle can leave us at the mercy of a poor diet, little sleep, and intense stress. Unfortunately, a pitfall of an inconsistent exercise routine, with an overload of processed food, is stomach discomfort. However, most people do not realize that digestive health plays a crucial role in the body’s overall health.
While an unhealthy gut can cause abdominal discomfort, it can also be responsible for a plethora of other ailments that most of us do not associate with our digestive tract. These can include obesity and diabetes, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers around the world now agree that improving intestinal health is a major factor in the treatment of numerous chronic conditions.
Signs You May Have an Unhealthy Gut
As every system in the body is interconnected, your overall health is dependent on the proper functioning of each group of organs. Central to the body’s health, therefore, is the digestive system. If your gut is unhealthy, stomach pain, gas, and bloating can occur. Unfortunately, it does not stop there. Serious health problems such as hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, and rosacea may have roots in gut health.
An Unhealthy Gut Can Cause:
- Digestive discomfort, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
- Food sensitivities and food allergies
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Anxiety and depression
- Skin issues, such as eczema and rosacea
- Autoimmune diseases, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and diabetes
- Poor memory and loss of concentration
- Neuromuscular diseases
- B12 deficiency
The Importance of Healthy Gut Flora
Gut flora, or good-for-you bacteria, are vital for a healthy digestive system. Although these beneficial microflora are naturally present in the body, they require a stable environment to flourish. Areas such as the colon are slightly acidic environments, which allow the body to eliminate undesirable bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli. Everything you put into your body has the power to change this environment, either encouraging or destroying healthy gut flora.
Without realizing it, we may be damaging our healthy gut flora through:
- Chlorinated water: Chlorine kills all bacteria in the GI tract, regardless of whether they are good or bad.
- Antibiotics – Designed to fend off disease by killing bad bacteria, antibiotics can damage good bacteria, as well.
- Over-the-counter medications: Many medications we take daily, such as laxatives, NSAIDS, aspirin, and antacids can change acidity levels in the digestive tract, making it hard for healthy gut flora to flourish.
- Prescription drugs: Cholesterol medications, antidepressants, sleeping pills, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) all target cell walls, potentially affecting digestive health.
- Common Household production: Soaps, shampoos, creams, and even pesticides are known to be toxic to bacteria, which can ultimately disrupt good microflora.
- Poor diet: Inflammatory foods, like gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, alcohol, and sugar may result in food sensitivities.
Restoring Gut Health
One of the easiest and most effective ways to restore digestive health is by reestablishing proper gut flora. Cutting out processed foods and unnecessary toxins, while adding a consistent exercise routine can put you on the road to better overall health.
Begin for removing the things that are damaging the healthy flora in your gut, including unnecessary medications, irritants, and inflammatory foods. Using an elimination diet, removing one food at a time, every two weeks, you can slowly discover the items you are most sensitive to.
Next, replace the good bacteria in your gut and restore a healthy balance of in your GI tract. Supplements with digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids can help with digestive health. This process should include adding a probiotic supplement, preferably that contains bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species. Finally, ensure the digestive tract is on its way to repair through the addition of amino acids, zinc, omega-3 fish oils, vitamin A, C, and E.
Remember, it is important to start with a professional evaluation of your gut health. The body can house trillions of various microbes which can only be detected through proper medical testing. With the help of an experienced medical professional, your gut microbes and flora can be better understood. A personalized treatment plan can then be created to improve your digestive system, getting you back on the path to health.
Improve Your Digestive Tract Health
If you are looking to improve your gut health, but are not sure where to start, begin with the help of an experienced health care provider. Synergistiq Integrative Health’s founder, Deepa Verma, MD, is double board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. She has extensive experience in integrative medicine, offering healing modalities that take into account of the whole person: mind, body, and spirit.
FAQ’s about Gut Health
- Q: WHAT IS GUT HEALTH?
A: The term gut health refers to a balanced digestive tract, free from infection and irritation. Processed foods, irritants, medications, and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to a decrease in the good bacteria of the stomach and GI tract, resulting in decreased gut health.
- Q: WHAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE MY GUT HEALTH?
A: There are several steps that can be used to improve the health of your digestive tract, including removing offending foods from your diet, as well as introducing probiotics and the appropriate supplements. Carefully following the advice of an experienced, integrative medicine physician – such as Dr. Verma – is the safest and most effective method for restoring gut health. First, get the proper Gut health testing done to accurately diagnosis a myriad of conditions from leaky gut to IBD to IBS and more.
- Q: WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ON GUT HEALTH AT HOME?
A: There is a wide range of gut health information available online, such as the eye-opening documentaries, What the Health and What’s With the Wheat. However, the best place for trustworthy gut health information will be through a board certified physician, experienced in integrative medicine.
How can Synergistiq Integrative Health help with my gut health?
Changing your diet and lifestyle can be both complicated and intimidating. Dr. Deepa Verma brings years of holistic healthcare experience to each individual she sees. Together with Dr. Verma, you can take those important first steps towards a healthier, happier life. Contact Dr. Deepa Verma of Tampa’s Synergistiq Integrative Health 727.754.2936 to schedule an initial consultation.