Have you ever heard the statement that the state of our gut affects the state of our mind? I had never heard of this until a friend told me very recently! Apparently the better we take care of our internal gut health, the happier we will be. It makes sense to me now that our gut health is key to determining our overall well being, but I was skeptical at first.
Does what’s going on in the microfauna of our intestines (I picture bacteria in military outfits saluting the walls of our innards) really have a bearing on our mind? It turns out that the research supports this claim, and by the end of this post I hope I will have convinced you! If you disagree or have your own thoughts on the matter, be sure to add them to the comments section on the bottom of this post.
A Bad Gut Can Ruin Your Day
This may be obvious to some, but it is worth pointing out. Gut health is imperative to having a good day as no one enjoys having to run to the bathroom several times during one meeting! Talk about embarrassing! When things just aren’t settling right in your system despite your very best efforts to eat well, your day can turn into a terrible one.
You are definitely not alone in this. Research shows that 74% of Americans Live With GI discomfort. That is a whopping 3 out of every 4 people that walk around every day with bloating, gas, and even persistent diarrhea or constipation.
I don’t necessarily like to admit this, but I myself struggle with symptoms of GI discomfort or irritable bowel syndrome. It has been an ongoing process for me to figure out what works and what helps, but a day of repeated bathroom trips is definitely a bad one in my book! Unless of course I am reading a good book… but the experience is still a less than pleasant one. Keep reading to see what steps I have taken to reduce my own stomach woes.
Let’s delve into the research and see what science is telling us about the subject, and why 74% of Americans suffer from these types of symptoms.
What Does the Research Show?
Research Shows that cognitive function increases when a group was given yogurt with Probiotics, as opposed to a group that was given yogurt with no probiotics. A control group was also put in place. It was also noted that people who are on a high vegetable and high fiber diet had a different set of gut bacteria than people that chose to eat the more typical American diet laden in fat and carbohydrates.
Poor gut health can be related with the following:
- Increase in propensity for Obesity.
- Increased possibility of developing Anxiety and Depressesion.
- Increased risk of heart disease.
- Decreased effectiveness of your Immune System.
- Infant colic- This is due to a higher number of proteobacteria in the babies guts when compared to those without colic.
In short, this all means that our gut does indeed affect brain function at all age levels AND our happiness and overall mental well-being along with it. Nobody likes getting sick and no parent wants to have to listen to their baby cry for absolutely no reason. If you are struggling with the health of your gut, be hopeful as their are indeed steps you can take to start getting your gut back to optimal condition!
What Can I do to Increase My Gut Health?
- Up your fiber intake- There are several initial steps you can take to increase your gut health. Being your Fiber Guardian, I of course will suggest that you Get Started with a high fiber diet right away. A high fiber diet that is specifically high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will put you on the right track to feeling better and increasing the overall health of your digestive system
- Start taking a probiotic supplement- I am not a doctor nor do I intend to give you advice in place of one, but I take a daily probiotic supplement and it has helped me with some of my stomach woes. I am definitely not cured by them, so I am not entirely sold on their effectiveness, but I do know that it works for a lot of people. If you are desperate anything is worth a try right? Here is a Link to Some Common Myths about probiotics that will give you some more information!
- Water- drink plenty of water and keep things moving! Water is key to any diet, any health routine, and life in general. Don’t forget that your body is made up almost entirely of water and you need to be replenishing it often. Aim for the standard 8 glasses of water a day and feel free to drink more than that if you can!
- Avoid certain high allergen response foods- These include soy, lactose, and gluten. Foods containing these items may cause a reaction in your system, and it is best to eliminate them if you are able to see if things get better.
- Limit your sugar intake- Sugar is actually food for the bad bacteria that live in your system! Try to cut out as much sugar as you can to give your system time to heal.
- Consider seeing a doctor- I am all about avoiding the doctor and trying home remedies first. I have been to the doctor several times to discuss my irritable bowel syndrome (or whatever the heck is truly going on) and they have not been very helpful. I’d rather not spend copious amounts of money on a professional opinion unless I am out of options.That being said, if things are progressing and getting worse for you, it might just be time to check in with someone that really knows what they are doing!
- Avoid Stress- Stress is a huge one for me. I try to avoid stress whenever possible to reduce the problems I have with my gut. The problem is that stress is everywhere and it is unavoidable most of the time. It is important to remember to take deep breaths and to take breaks whenever something is becoming too stressful for your system to handle. Listen to your body above all else in this situation and please be wary of your own stress levels.
- Take Citrucel- I mentioned this method in another post of mine (How to Survive a Lousy Dietary Decision) but it applies to this case as well. Citrucel can give you a good boost to your stomach’s ability to handle things.
I truly hope that you are able to use some of the above strategies for increasing your own gut health, and please do see a doctor if your condition is worsening.
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