The Importance of Gut Health

The age-old phrases of feeling butterflies in your stomach, having a gut instinct, trusting your gut, or feeling like your stomach has flipped are no accident. 

 

Without a doubt, the gut-brain connection is both real and significant, affecting  much more than how we digest our food. Over the past few years, more and more research has come out highlighting the gut’s widespread effects on our mood, hormones, immune systems, and overall well being. Basically think of your gut like the control center for all of the operating systems in your body. Amazing, right?

 

Because of the gut’s profound impact on the body as a whole, an unhealthy microbiome can lead to long-term health complications that might seem completely unrelated! As society moves towards a more holistic model as it relates to health and wellness, taking a closer look at the gut as the roadmap for optimal living will become of the utmost importance. 

 

Now let’s dive into the flora and the fauna…

 

What is a microbiome?

 

The term “microbiome” has become as commonplace as “ashwagandha” these days. However, how well do you actually know your own microbiome?

 

The gut’s microbiome essentially houses all of the bacteria in your body — good and bad. And we’re talking about trillions of bacteria. When the good bacteria (probiotics) outnumbers the bad bacteria (pathogens), your gut is able to maintain a happy balance to keep your immune system —70% of which resides in your gut — strong and prepared. 

 

What is the gut-brain connection?

 

Your microbiome goes far beyond your immune system. Turns out: your gut and your brain are in direct communication 100% of the time through your body’s vagus nerve, which sends messages from the gut to the brain (and vice versa). At any given time, the 500 trillion neurons that live in your gut are connected to your brain through nerves in your nervous system.

 

What exactly does this mean? In years prior, scientists thought that anxiety, depression, and other mood-inducing disorders or conditions were creating dysfunction and imbalances in the gut. Now, they’re starting to think that the hormones that affect the brain—like serotonin and cortisol—are actually produced and managed in the gut. That means that if your gut is in a state of distress, mental distress is likely to follow.

 

How the gut affects the immune system

 

Gut dysbiosis, which is really just a fancy way of saying that your gut bacteria is out-of-whack, can wreak havoc on your immune system. When there are not enough probiotics to fight off the pathogenic bacteria, your body goes into protection mode, which triggers an immune response. This response can be either an overreaction or an underreaction, which can lead to long-term, chronic issues. While an overreaction of the immune system causes your body to attack its own healthy cells and produce  inflammation, an underreaction can leave the body vulnerable to infection and viruses. 

 

What are signs that you have an imbalanced gut?

 

  • Chronic stomach issues
  • If you’re constantly complaining about gas, bloating, or irregular “movements,” you’re likely having a hard time processing food and eliminating waste, which can be signs of a gut imbalance.

     

  • Unexpected weight changes
  • Because the gut is responsible for the production and management of hormone balance and blood sugar regulation, a leaky gut or bacterial overgrowth could lead to insulin resistance.

     

  • Poor sleep
  • Serotonin, the hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. An unhealthy gut can result in insomnia or chronic fatigue.

     

  • Irritated skin
  • Chronic skin conditions like eczema can be directly connected to poor gut health. “Leaky gut,” which causes certain proteins to leak out of the gut and into the body, can result in inflammation of the skin.

     

  • Autoimmune conditions
  • A damaged gut can ignite chronic inflammation and impact overall immune function, resulting in the body attacking its own healthy cells.

     

  • Compromised digestion
  • Food allergies and food intolerances may be linked to poor microbiome diversity, which makes it hard to digest certain foods or can make you prone to food sensitivities. 

     

     Ways to support healthy gut

     

    Having a compromised gut can feel like a real gut-punch, but that which has been done can be undone through simple lifestyle changes that will positively affect your health using a 360-degree approach.

     

  • Stay calm
  • Maintaining a zen lifestyle that incorporates mindfulness and self-care will help keep cortisol levels down and inflammation at bay.

     

  • Catch some zzz's
  • Good quality sleep is about more than just good dreams. Getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is invaluable for giving your body the time it needs to restore, recoup, and recover.

     

  • Drink enough water
  • Sounds easy enough, no? Staying hydrated is step 1 to a healthy gut to help protect the mucosal lining of the intestine and help all of your vital organs run optimally.

     

  • Take a prebiotic or probiotic
  • High-quality prebiotics and probiotics are essential for both repopulating your gut with healthy bacteria to fight pathogenic bacteria.

     

  • Avoid processed foods
  • Processed sugar, refined starches, and fried foods feed bad bacteria in your microbiome and lessen overall biodiversity in your gut. Organic vegetables, healthy fat and protein, and high-fiber food can help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria.

     

    Beam’s Elevate balance is the new non-CBD hydration solution that combines clean electrolytes with gut-friendly prebiotics + probiotics as well as digestive enzymes to improve overall well being. Just add water.

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