The health of your gut can be a fundamental indicator into your overall health and plays a huge role in your long-term wellbeing, both physically and according to recent research, mentally too.
But what makes for a healthy gut? And what are the signs that suggest both a healthy & an unhealthy gut?
Maintaining good gut health is essential in reducing your chances of issues such as bowel cancer, which currently accounts for 12% of cancers in the UK. Doing your research when it comes to gut health will help you choose the right foods and adopt the right habits, to preserve your gut.
Healthy Vs Unhealthy guts: what are the differences?
One of the key telltale signs of a healthy gut is your stool. Not the most pleasant of activities, but checking to see if your stool is a healthy colour is super important and will help you notice any changes that might be a cause for concern. Healthline has put together a really useful document (complete with a cartoon chart!) to help you identify the types of stool that indicate good and bad gut health.
Studies have shown that the gut has amazing resilience and making changes to your lifestyle and diet can manifest positive results in a matter of weeks. A sustained period of clean eating made up with a diet of gut-health promoting foods such as probiotics, fibre, legumes and vegetables along with regular exercise and efforts to minimise stress levels will all make a difference to your gut health.
In some cases, there is a bigger problem such as food intolerances, autoimmunity or an inflammatory problem at play, and these require medical intervention and/or a long term period of cleaner living.
Stress & your gut
As mentioned above, there has been evidence to suggest that the gut and mental health are closely intertwined and this doesn’t come as too much of a shock, when we know that anxiety diarrhea is a scientifically proven phenomenon.
Your gut and your brain share a connection known as the gut-brain axis and the axis connects your central nervous system to your enteric nervous system (ENS), AKA your gut’s own nervous system. With this connection at play, when you get stressed, the ENS is triggered to start doing its thing.
Engaging in activities that will boost your serotonin levels will help to reduce the likelihood of these negative messages being sent the gut’s way and your brain will hopefully become accustomed to controlling stress in other ways.
When to see a doctor about your gut health
We’ve all experienced symptoms associated with poor gut health at one time or another. However, if you experience any of the following for a sustained period of time, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as you can:
- Symptoms get progressively worse
- You experience diarrhoea during the night
- You can see blood in your stools
- Bowel movements don’t relieve stomach pain
- Weight loss
Look after your gut health everyone .