The esophagus, intestines, mouth, and stomach are constituent parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, or gut. The gut’s primary tasks are to process food, absorb nutrients, regulate the immune system, and balance the GI’s mix of bacteria.
As recently as a few years ago, scientists and others in the medical community had a somewhat limited perspective on the gut’s effects on our overall health. However, a proliferating amount of research has linked problems with the gut (e.g., “leaky gut syndrome”) to a number of health issues, from allergies to rheumatoid arthritis.
Our gut contains a disproportionately high amount of microbes, and they are essential to combating illness-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses. As such, preserving your gut health is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy mind and body.
1. FEELING ANXIOUS, DEJECTED OR DEPRESSED
On the surface, it seems odd to link our gut with emotions. But did you know that 70 percent of your body’s serotonin is found in your gut? Low levels of serotonin have been linked to unstable mood, depression, and physiological functions such as digestion (of course), eating and sleeping.
2. CRAVING SUGAR-LOADED FOODS
Leptin and ghrelin (what?) are proteins that act similarly to hormones that stabilize appetite – and our gut bacteria secrete a lot of them. These proteins influence our food cravings; so if you eat lots of sugar, the bacteria adapt to this unhealthy type of sustenance. As a result, your gut will desire it’s daily dose of sugar. Correcting gut problems can eliminate bacteria that cause sugar cravings.
3. FOOD ALLERGIES OR INCREASED FOOD SENSITIVITY
Food intolerances (e.g. lactose intolerance) are almost always the byproduct of a leaky gut. Remember that a leaky gut will not properly digest all food. Instead of staying within the closed loop of the gut, the food permeates the intestines and enters the bloodstream.
When this food “escapes,” the body interprets it as a threat and initiates an immune response. Developing or worsening food allergies, and sudden sensitivity to certain foods may indicate a problem.
4. BAD BREATH
Halitosis is the medical term used to describe chronically bad breath. A microbial imbalance in the gut can transport to other areas of the body, including the mouth. Disparities or fluctuations in gut flora make the body increasingly susceptible to conditions that cause bad breath (e.g. kidney disease or diabetes).
5. DIFFICULTY SLEEPING OR INSOMNIA
Troubles falling and staying asleep is indicatory of some chemical imbalance in the brain. As mentioned, our gut stores and regulates serotonin – an essential neurotransmitter for inducing and regulating sleep patterns. When serotonin is lacking or out of balance, it can lead to bouts of insomnia or difficulty getting to sleep.
.: Power of Positivity
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