Signs Of Poor Gut Health & Natural Ways To Improve It!
A happy tummy equals a happy you! It is a common saying that you may hear often. Mostly, people with an innate love for food are seen to use such a statement and stand by it religiously.
I, on the other hand, believe the term “happy tummy” has a deeper meaning. Your tummy or stomach is a part of the gut, also referred to as the Gastrointestinal tract or digestive tract, or the digestive system. A happy tummy, in its real sense, is when your overall digestive system is functioning smoothly.
Maintaining a healthy gut may turn out to be a tricky task when you are a working individual. Ask any office-going person, and the most common answer that you will hear is, “I barely get time to have one wholesome meal. If I am lucky, I get to have two proper meals in a day.”
The life of a corporate employee is hectic. And a majority of them also complain about the lack of work-life balance. Amidst all the workload and unfavorable work culture, following a healthy diet routine becomes the least of their concern.
Leading such a life may be feasible temporarily. It is definitely not sustainable in the long run. Such a lifestyle will affect your overall health; in this blog, I will be focussing on a particular aspect, as mentioned in the title - your gut health.
Caring for gut health is the least concern when you are a young adult. As someone belonging to this age group, I can vouch for this one. In doing so, we put our bodies in harm’s way, and its repercussions come up to the surface gradually with age.
Your body, however, gives away signs and symptoms that you are neglecting your gut health. If you continuously ignore these signs of poor gut health, you may end up with chronic disorders or more.
This blog primarily covers all you need to know about gut health, how taking care of the gut can boost work productivity and some pointers employers should enforce to promote employee health.
Eating Pattern Of Corporate Employees
American Heart Association, in 2019, held a survey where they found that 56 percent of American employees find it challenging to eat a healthy lunch while working. And 1 out of 3 employees who face a stressful day at work struggle to eat healthily.
This is a response that employers or corporate leaders should take seriously. Being unable to have a proper meal while working may be due to reasons like:
- An employee has too many things on their plate and has to deliver the work within a short time span.
- The organization they work in has a reputation for micromanaging its employees.
- Employees have developed a fear of being cornered in the office premise as incompetent. Hence, they lose interest in having a wholesome diet and focus more on work performance.
Research suggests that anxiety can lead to loss of appetite, causing unintentional weight loss, while some people tend to overeat and experience weight gain.
Such factors can potentially affect one’s emotional and mental health, causing them to overwork and neglect their dietary habits. Many may say, “If you are getting employed in the corporate sector, you must be resilient.”
Instead, corporate leaders should create a safe working safe where employees are able to work efficiently as well as lead a healthy lifestyle.
The catch here is such an eating pattern may look harmless for a while. The human body is, infact, built to withhold any adverse changes as much as possible. However, continuing such eating habits may lead to poor gut health in the long run.
Poor gut health does not, infact, develop overnight. It results from days and months of following an irregular unhealthy lifestyle.
This is why incorporating a wellness program for the employees’ well-being is much needed. Wellness programs are designed to attract users into participating in wellness challenges with the concept of incentivization and gamification.
The outcome is it simmers down the employees’ emotional and mental health and instills the need to lead a healthy lifestyle.
What Are The Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut?
1. An upset stomach
Gas formation is one of the most common signs of poor gut health. This leads to upsetting your stomach, and abdominal pain may also arise. Some individuals may simply experience a bloating stomach.
Have you noticed your belly looks bigger than usual sometimes? And the first thought that pops into your mind is, “ I have gained weight.” Well, the truth is, half of the time, you have a bloated stomach only.
Other signs of an unhealthy gut include irregular bowel movements and heartburn. It may be diarrhea or even constipation.
2. Unintentional weight changes
A person with poor gut health may notice a sharp drop or increase in weight for no real reason. But why so? A poorly maintained gut negatively affects your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, keep blood sugar in check, and reserve fats for future use.
Suggested reading: Friluftsliv: The Norwegian Lifestyle That May Boost Work Productivity
3. An irregular shift in the mood
According to Dr. Rouenne Seeley, emotional health has a direct relationship with gut health. In one of her tweets, Dr. Seeley states, “The gut-brain connection is important for your overall health. Take care of your gut (and your mind).”
Here are some signs of poor gut health that radiate onto emotional and mental health:
- Cranky and moody
- Getting irritated easily
- Lack of concentration at work
- A cloudy mind
- Feeling anxious
The science behind this is the bacteria in the gut play a big role in regulating the serotonin levels in the body. This particular hormone brings in the feeling of contentment and utter happiness. In short, serotonin helps regulate mood changes.
And with poor gut health, the microbiome diversity declines, which is the primary cause of the different health issues. The decline of microbiome diversity means the balance between bad and good bacteria in the gut is lost. As a result, in extreme cases, the intestinal walls become thin, and the gut contents leak into the bloodstream.
The bacteria in the gut are collectively known as the microbiome.
4. Chronic fatigue
We all have seen days when, no matter how much sleep we get, the fatigue sneaks in eventually. And with this, working efficiently seems like a huge chore, especially when meeting a deadline. Or, some of us find it difficult to fall asleep or have nights of fragmented sleep patterns.
As mentioned above, the microbiome helps regulate serotonin levels. Besides mood regulation, serotonin also affects a person’s sleep-wake cycle. It can be said due to the imbalance of microbiome diversity; the body seems to have a reduced serotonin level.
Hence, a person with an unhealthy gut will experience nights of broken sleep.
Suggested reading: The Many Risks of Work Fatigue and How to Manage It
5. Poor skin health
Dietary habits also have a major impact on the bacteria in the gut. For instance, consuming food or a diet high in too much sugar is seen to cause skin irritations in some people. This happens because the food affects microbiome diversity, which ultimately may cause the following:
- Skin rashes
Another factor worth mentioning is the microbiome affects one’s tolerance towards a particular food. This means the microbiome plays a key role in developing a food allergy. Moreover, it may be one of the reasons why some people develop skin rashes or other symptoms after consuming certain foods.
6. Weakened Immune system
Disturbed gut health is known to cause inflammation and negatively affect various metabolic processes. Eventually, such conditions may weaken the immune system, inducing chronic disorders in the long term.
Here are some chronic disorders that may arise:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Cardiac diseases
How To Improve Your Gut Health Naturally?
The most common remedy to improve poor gut health is to increase the intake of probiotics. While it is an effective method, there is a better technique to diminish the signs of poor gut health.
1. Eat a wholesome meal
Improving the diet is the smartest and healthiest way to improve your gut health naturally. Here are some food items that you should have in a wholesome meal:
- Barley, Quinoa, and any other whole grains
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- A variety of nuts like almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts
- Every form of beans
If you have any health condition that restricts you from consuming any food item, consult with your doctor once on how to improve gut health.
2. Start consuming fermented food
Fermented food is usually perceived as a controversial delicacy because of how it tastes and smells. Whatsoever, the health benefits that fermented food offer is huge and cannot be ignored.
Many countries worldwide have a wide range of dishes(sweet and savory) made of fermented foods. Here are examples of fermented foods that are known to extend health benefits :
- Fermented soybeans
- Plain yogurt with zero or minimal sugar
How does it work? Consuming fermented foods is believed to strengthen the thicken the intestinal walls. Along with it, the diversity of the different bacteria in the gut is restored.
3. Switch to a plant-based diet
The thought of sticking to an all-plant-based diet is dreadful to many. But, if following it helps gut health flourish, it may be worth trying. It is the high fiber content in plant-based diets that are observed to regulate the microbiome.
4. Say yes to foods rich in polyphenols
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds that are found in plants only. Here are some examples of food high in polyphenols:
- Dark chocolate with minimal sugar
- Tea and coffee
As the polyphenols reach the gut, it serves as a food source for the bacteria in the gut. Eventually, it promotes the growth of the good bacteria and keeps the bad bacteria in check.
5. Stay hydrated
Water is known as the elixir of life for a reason. Right from quenching your thirst, water helps in promoting thriving gut health. Wondering how staying hydrated helps here? Well, it reduces inflammation in the intestinal tract, helps in processing food and eliminating waste materials, minimizes the chances of developing a leaky gut, and so on.
How can workplaces help in this regard? As the corporate world is finally stepping up in promoting employee health, workplaces can introduce healthy meals in their in-office food menu. Moreover, if you are a corporate leader, you can put forward a special budget to stock food items rich in probiotics, such as plain yogurt.
6. Choose an active lifestyle
Opting for a healthier lifestyle can always add extra miles to health. Even in the case of improving gut health, a study suggests practicing exercises may help maintain microbiome diversity.
Suggested reading: Try NEAT Exercises To Burn Your Calories Faster
The signs of poor gut health are very subtle. It is natural to ignore such signs and symptoms as nothing serious at first. They say ignorance is bliss. Although, it is not applicable when it’s about your gut health.
As we come to the end of this blog, one aspect is pretty clear: Taking care of the gut is very important, whether for a regular person or a working individual.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the 3 signs of poor gut health?
The three most common signs of an unhealthy gut are bloating, irregular mood changes, and difficulty digesting food.
2. How do I detox my gut?
When it’s about detoxification, the first thing that comes to mind is drinking water. Staying hydrated is indeed a great way to detox your gut. It flushes out toxins and helps during the digestion process. Additionally, incorporating a meal consisting of fresh farm fruits and vegetables is one more great way to improve your gut health.
3. What are the 3 superfoods for a healthy gut?
The three superfoods to maintain a healthy gut are plain yogurt, apples (they consist of a component called “pectin,” which is known to promote the growth of the microbiome), and leafy vegetables.
4. How do I check my gut health?
The frequent signs of poor gut health are bloating, irregular bowel movements, rapid weight loss or weight gain, development of food allergy, and changes in mood with no apparent reason. If you have been experiencing any such signs, it is wise to consult a health professional to confirm whether your gut is healthy.
5. Is Kombucha good for gut health?
Yes, Kombucha is widely known for its benefits for gut health. It is a fermented sugared tea.
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