So, what is gut health? Gut health refers to the microorganisms that live in the digestive tract.
Maintaining and creating a balance of these microorganism plays an integral role in our health and wellbeing and for the keeping other body systems functioning at their full capacity. The gut works in synergy with other organs, such as the brain, but also plays a major role in the control of metabolism, inflammatory responses and the immune system. Which is why when there is an imbalance in our microbiota it may present as digestive issues, however in the long term may present as food allergies, anxiety, depression, mood swings, skin problems, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, weakened immune system and poor memory and concentration.
With this in mind, it is now believed that a large portion of the population experience digestive upset and distressing gut symptoms that affect their day to day life. An imbalance in our microbiota can be impacted by aging, diet, lifestyle, alcohol, trauma, prolonged stress, nutrient deficiencies, medications, antibiotic use, infection, inflammation, environment, medical history, hygiene and socioeconomic conditions.
A dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) in the gut can present as a bloated stomach, frequent heartburn, abdominal pain, excessive gas, growling stomach, constipation or diarrhoea, nausea and excessive burping. These symptoms can occur as the microbes in our gut are fermenting and as with any fermentation process, gas is produced. This gas then needs to go somewhere.
The Bristol stool chart is also a way of indicating how our gut is performing.
When referring to our digestive health we can also refer to the frequency of passing a stool. Any where between three times a day to three times a week is within a healthy range. The slower the transit time the more likely you are a risk of developing a gut disease or disorder which is why fibre is such an important part of our diet, as it bulks out the stool. If your stool is hard, lumpy or flattened, involves urgency, straining or lasting discomfort, this is usually a sign that something isn’t quite right.
Please keep in mind if you are ever concerned out your digestive issues it is always important to consult with your doctor. Some signs that should not be ignored include a sustained change in bowel movements, prolonged, severe or reoccurring, poo that is either black, greyish or has blood or mucus in it, unexplained weight loss and difficulty swallowing.
This information does not take into account your personal situation and is general in nature. You should consider whether the information is appropriate for your needs and seek professional medical advice.
Always consult your healthcare professional before taking any supplements or if any concerns arise.