We’re all far too familiar with bloated bellies, rumbling intestines, and days you can’t get off or even close to the toilet. Gut problems are uncomfortable and can be quite embarrassing. Read on to know more.
Surprisingly, many other symptoms are gut-related too, but not recognised as such!
A healthy gut is crucial for keeping your body in good condition and shape. That’s because your digestive system:
- Absorbs essential nutrients, such as vitamins, healthy fats and proteins.
- Provides the first and most important barrier against unwanted intruders.
- Recognises the good and bad bacteria, making sure to keep the bad ones out of your system.
- Produces some vital neurotransmitters and hormones.
- Plays a huge role in a healthy immune reaction.
A dysfunctioning digestion is not only a burden in everyday life; it has a damaging impact on the rest of your body and overall health as well.
When experiencing gut problems, the intestinal barrier is often damaged, causing the wrong substances and bacteria to “leak” into your body, your immune system to overreact, your energy distribution to go nuts, your hormone levels to bounce around and placing physical stress on your body, which leads to mental stress as well.
With vital functions like that, you can imagine that a problematic gut won’t just set off various symptoms and diseases; it’ll cause weight problems too as you won’t be able to process nutrients the right way!
Gut problems are therefore one of the real reasons you aren’t losing weight, or even gain weight.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can heal your gut, restore your gut flora, rebuild that intestinal barrier and live happily ever after with a healthy digestion!
The Importance of a Healthy Gut
The gut absorbs foods, eliminates toxins, produces several hormones and neurotransmitters, and has some crucial immunological tasks. Not too bad for a slimy, wrinkled, worm-like organ located somewhere in the bottom of your belly, right?
But in all seriousness: many diseases and symptoms can be traced back to poor gut health. We’re talking about auto-immune diseases, arthritis, weight problems, skin issues such as acne and psoriasis, migraines and even some psychological illnesses.
Digestive problems aren’t ‘normal’. It’s your body telling you that something isn’t right.
The Signs & Symptoms Of Gut Problems
This a tricky one. A lot of symptoms and diseases originate in the gut (yes, it’s that important!), so almost everything can be traced back to it. Here’s an overview of the most “every-day” signs and common gut-related symptoms:
- Weight loss problem
- Mucus with the stool
- Bad breath
- Sticky or mushy stools (these “sink” to the bottom of the toilet)
- Floating stool
- Skin problems (such as acne)
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Eczema (especially on hands)
- Cracked feet and/or hands
- Having frequent colds
- Autoimmune diseases
- Lower back pain
- Breathing/asthma problems
- Vertical crack in middle of tongue (from front to back)
- Gingivitis (= mouth gum infection)
- Sinusitis (sinus infection)
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Fungal infection of the nail
Stages of Declining Gut Health
Stage 1: You Stop Burning Fat
Digestive problems keep you from losing weight because bad gut health causes your immune system to overreact. And an overactive immune system is one of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to losing weight.
This is quite an extensive picture to grasp, but we’ll try to explain it as simple as we can:
The immune system is activated when invaded by toxic substances, harmful bacteria, and viruses. Your gut is one of the most significant barriers stopping these invaders from entering your body.
If – due to poor gut health – your gut fails to stop the enemies at the gate, your immune system is automatically activated to protect your body and clean up the mess.
Now here comes the tricky part. Your immune system needs fuel to keep you safe and runs on glucose (sugar). As long as it’s active, it will keep seeking more glucose resources.
If your digestive system were healthy, your body would be able to extract glucose from your fat cells by burning fat (yay!).
But, when you face gut problems and have less metabolic flexibility, fat burning becomes impossible. Your body is then forced to switch to a state of “sugar burning” (not so yay..) to keep feeding your overactivated immune system. In this metabolic state, it becomes impossible to lose weight.
A chronically active immune system causes a problem in your energy distribution, sending your sugar cravings through the roof. Eventually, this results in insulin resistance, meaning glucose (sugar) cannot enter your cells anymore and is automatically stored as fat.
So, to summarize this vicious circle:
- Bad gut health leads to an overactive immune system.
- An overactive immune system needs a lot of glucose (sugar).
- Your body continuously craves sugar to keep feeding your immune system. An overload of sugar makes your cells insulin resistant.
- The overactive immune system and insulin resistance further decline of your gut health: increased blood sugar levels damage your gut flora and the energy that goes to your immune system further deprives your digestive system.
In short: bad gut health leads to an overactive immune system which makes losing weight impossible.
Stage 2. Your Body Enters A State Of Low-Grade Inflammation
When the immune system is activated too often, your body enters a state of low-grade inflammation: meaning you’ll suffer from a chronic infection, without the real fever.
You feel a lot less energized, fall ill regularly or suffer from an overall “uneasy” feeling, without having a clear sense what it is that makes you feel this way. Your immune system is all the time dealing with the inflammation caused by toxins leaking through your gut lining and has trouble fighting off any other bacteria or diseases.
Low-Grade Inflammation & Cytokines
Some of the primary substances in your body involved in anti-inflammation are cytokines: messengers that work to fight off infections for a short amount of time. These troopers are released in particularly big amounts when your body gets into a state of low-grade inflammation.
Unfortunately, high levels of cytokines disrupt the hormonal function of insulin and leptin. This makes you even more susceptible to insulin resistance and will further increase your body fat percentage.
Stage 3: You’ll Develop A Leaky Gut
In the long run, poor gut health combined with low-grade inflammation causes your gut to get permanently “leaky”. Toxins and toxic anti-nutrients then leak non-stop through your “perforated” intestinal barrier. A leaky gut triggers numerous health issues and is a source of many autoimmune- and other diseases.
Here’s an overview of the most common signs and symptoms of a leaky gut:
Lack of drive/motivation
Heavy/frequent mood swings
Bloating / Constipation
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
How Do I Restore My Gut Health?
Don’t worry just yet! You can reverse low-grade inflammation, insulin resistance, a leaky gut and all its symptoms with the right diet and lifestyle.
But, because you need to repair, repopulate and rebuild, there’s some serious work involved. Here are some practical tweaks to help improve your gut health:
- Avoid Toxins & Toxic Anti-Nutrients
By removing toxins and toxic antinutrients from your diet, you avoid damaging your intestinal lining.
You can find toxic antinutrients in grains, beans, peanuts, soy and consuming too much vegetable oils.
Toxins from alcohol, cigarettes and the environment aren’t just damaging your gut lining; they also keep your liver way too busy! When this detoxifying organ is preoccupied with toxins, your body has less power left to deal with any unwanted substances that enter your digestive system.
- Remove Sugar From Your Diet
Sugar does NOT do your gut health any good. It accelerates the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi such as candida. The larger the amount of bad bacteria, the less space is left for the good bacteria to thrive.
Try lowering your sugar intake as much as possible if you’re serious about your gut health.
Cutting out sugar can be pretty hard since it’s hiding everywhere! Most processed foods contain sugar, but eating too much fruit can also spike your blood sugar levels.
Ready to break up with sugar for good? Join our FREE 7-Day Sugar Detox Challenge!
- Fibers, Fibers, Fibres
Fibers promote a healthy digestion cleaning out the little bits and pieces that get stuck into the folds of your intestinal wall.
When hearing the word ‘fibre’, you might instantly think about stashing the whole grains on your plate. But did you know there are LOADS of fibers in veggies too? Vegetables don’t contain the toxic anti-nutrients that grains have and have all the vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy gut and body.
Try to get more vegetables in your diet. In fact, try to eat veggies with every meal! Even breakfast: some mixed vegetables with scrambled eggs in the morning gives you energy throughout the day.
- Take (Extra) Care Of Your Mouth Hygiene
Did you know your mouth has its very own bacterial flora? Your mouth flora has an enormous impact on your gut flora and is the first “gatekeeper” of your digestive system. Everything that enters through here ends up in your gut! So it’s paramount to keep your mouth healthy.
Make sure to floss and brush sufficiently, and stay away from aggressive mouthwash products or toothpaste that’s heavy on the whitening.
Make sure to get enough sleep, de-stress (you can use our FREE e-book CALM!), and try to avoid dairy products.
Protecting Your Gut Health While Taking Antibiotics
If you’re one of the 4 out of 5s who are prescribed antibiotics every year, then you know how big a role these antibacterial drugs play in today’s culture of medicine. In fact, healthcare providers prescribe nearly 270 million antibiotics to patients every year 1!
There’s no doubt that antibiotics can be lifesaving medicines, but research shows that approximately 50% of antibiotics may be prescribed inappropriately, contributing to widespread antibiotic resistance and an epidemic of insufficient gut bacteria amongst those in the developed world.
Fortunately, by understanding how antibiotics work and their effects on our body, we can take steps to use them responsibly while also making sure to protect and nourish our delicate digestive tract and our probiotic friends who reside there.
A Brief History of Antibiotics
Did you know that more than 2,000 years ago, ancient cultures brewed beer with an antibiotic-producing soil bacteria? Interestingly, it wasn’t accidental; researchers theorize that these prehistoric tribes were deliberately fermenting their libations to achieve tetracycline-like effects as protection from the many inhospitable microbes in their environment 2.
But, it wasn’t until well into the 20th century that scientists began to understand the power of antibiotics. In 1928, biologist Alexander Fleming unwittingly made one of the most profound discoveries of all time when he came home from a month-long family vacation to discover that one of the bacterial cultures he had left out was contaminated with a mold that had killed the original surrounding bacteria.
Fleming identified the mold as the Penicillium genus and later named the active ingredients in the mold penicillin, thereby ushering in the antibiotic era that has dominated modern medicine for most of the last century.
How to Be a Savvy Antibiotic (and Probiotic) User
The dreaded moment your doctor gives you the news that you must take a course of antibiotics is also the moment you should jump into action to make sure to fortify your microbiome. Here are six practical steps you can take.
- Advocate for yourself. Before you fill an antibiotic prescription, make sure your doctor has confirmed the need with a lab test. Because so many antibiotics are overprescribed, you want to ensure it’s a necessity before subjecting your fragile microbiome to any drug’s nuking effects.
- Always take probiotics! Ideally, you’ll already be taking a high-quality probiotic before you begin your course of antibiotics, but if you aren’t, it’s never too late to start. A multi-strain formula like Hyperbiotics PRO-15 will seed your gut with billions of beneficial microbes to keep things in balance. And, stay the course even after you are done taking the medicine—it can take an entire year to bring your microbiome back to a state of balance after taking antibiotics!
- Spread out the doses. Because antibiotics indiscriminately destroy any and all bacteria as they make their way through your body, wait at least two hours after taking antibiotics before you take your probiotic dose. This gives the probiotics more time to settle in and set up shop in your gut.
- Choose antibiotic-free foods. Did you know that antibiotics may be present in the foods you eat? Many farmers use antibiotics to fatten up their livestock, so you could be unwittingly ingesting antibiotics and damaging your microbiome if you eat tainted foods. Choose organic and antibiotic-free meat, dairy, fish, and eggs whenever possible and invest in a high-quality water filter to filter out unnecessary contaminants.
- Focus on prebiotics. Much like fertilizer feeds a garden, prebiotics are indigestible fibers that feed your good gut bacteria and help them thrive so they can get to work supporting your health. Keep your friendly microbes happy and full with a prebiotic powder supplement and a diet high in whole, plant-based foods, including prebiotic sources like oats, honey, apples, bananas, Jerusalem artichoke, and onions.
- Live a gut-healthy life. Nourishing your gut goes well beyond just taking probiotics while taking antibiotics. Making daily choices to stay away from microbial depleters like antibacterial cleansers and antimicrobial personal care products, being active, keeping your stress levels in check, and spending plenty of times outdoors will all help you create a gut environment conducive to a healthy probiotic population that is the key to long-term and vibrant health.
As more and more people realize the impact that antibiotics have on our individual health and that of our society as a whole, we’ll hopefully move towards only using antibiotics in emergency or clear-cut, specific situations where no other option is available. Looking ahead, the exciting new future of medicine may even include targeted probiotic prescriptions that aim to remedy your health by fortifying your gut microbiome with the exact probiotic strains it needs.
Until we get there, committing to using antibiotics responsibly and making the conscious decision to support your gut through all of life’s challenges is the path to long-lasting and dynamic health for both you and your entire family.