Is your gut making you moody? 6 Common health problems that are impacted by your gut health.
In the previous blog we looked at what a gut microbiome is, why it’s important and 10 basic signs that might mean your gut health is out of balance and needs support. We’ve now learnt that the role of gut bacteria extends beyond digestion and has a wide-ranging influence on many areas of your wellbeing. In this blog we take a more detailed look into what your gut health could be impacting on – many of them you might not have even thought would be related to your gut! These include the health of your mood, weight, skin, immune system health, food intolerances and more. Read on to learn more.
6 Common Health Problems that are Impacted by your Gut
1. Gut + Immune
Your immune system is like your very own Special Intelligence Service. It decides who is friendly and who is not, and when under threat it pools all the necessary resources to protect your body from illness. About 80% of your immune system cells lie in your intestinal tract where it patrols for unwanted pathogens that make their way in via your mouth or nose. They can be hidden on your food, your hands, in water, or the air you breathe. In this way your immune system is acting as your protector.
Also, your microbiome and digestive enzyme, our gut immune cells neighbours work in unison to ensure your food is broken down into tiny molecules to be used for energy production, detoxification, metabolism, overall immunity and a raft of other necessary functions all over the body.
So, you need your gut to be in peak health because it's the main route of absorption and impacts the health of your entire body.
2. Gut + Skin
Often when we think about skin care, the first thing we think about are lotions and potions applied topically to the face and body. As consumers, we spend a lot of time and money researching and buying the plethora anti-aging ingredients available to us in the hope of achieving healthier and glowing skin. We often rely on steroid creams to help with itchy skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, which can have unintended side effects when used for too long or too often. Not many know that healthy skin starts with a healthy gut.
Healthy vibrant skin is strongly connected to your gut. A gut with a microbe imbalance will not just affect digestion and how you break down your food but also the integrity of your gut wall. When your digestion is weakened larger than normal food particles pass through the gut wall and into your bloodstream, commonly described as leaky gut syndrome. It’s here that the patrolling immune cells initiate an inflammatory response against these large food particles seeing them as unfriendly invaders, creating inflammation in the body, like your skin. Skin complaints like eczema, and fungal rashes (unrelated to a topical irritant) can suggest that you may benefit from probiotic support.
3. Gut + Mood
For decades, researchers and doctors have thought that mood changes, such as anxiety and depression, trigger digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bowel issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and upset stomachs. However, new research has found evidence that it could happen in the other direction also. In other words, an irritated gut may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes. A number of studies have shown that people with various psychological disorders have different species of bacteria in their gut, compared to healthy people. This suggests that the gut microbiome may affect brain health.
An unhealthy gut can also impact on the production of the happy hormone, serotonin. Serotonin is primarily made in your gut, and not only does it keep mood up, but it also helps to regulate sleep, appetite, as well as how and what we eat. An unhealthy balance of microbiome in the gut can inhibit serotonin production.
4. Gut + Food sensitivities, Intolerances, Allergies
Intolerance and sensitivities don’t always show up immediately and can become more apparent in our latter years, whereas allergies are more obvious from the beginning. All 3 negatively impact gut balance and digestion and create unpleasant or dangerous symptoms.
A food intolerance is where your gastrointestinal tract lacks the right enzymes to digest a particular food component like lactose or gluten. The immune system does not respond in this case and symptoms can take up to 20 hours to show like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, nausea, indigestion or eczema. Well known intolerances like lactose can show up here and perpetuate or aggravate other health issues like asthma, for example. These foods need to be eliminated indefinitely.
A food sensitivity is where the immune system reacts to certain foods and initiates an immune response which causes problems like joint pain, long term skin rashes, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhoea, and headaches. Once gut balance is restored any eliminated foods can often be introduced back into meals.
In the case of a food allergy, your mighty immune system goes into battle against a specific food or food group (e.g. nuts) creating an allergic reaction that can be as severe as anaphylaxis. These foods should be completely avoided.
5. Gut + Weight
If you’re having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, there can often be a connection with your gut health. How you metabolise (digest and process) your food influences just how many nutrients you get from every meal and how your body utilises the unlocked nutrients. Any nutrients not immediately required gets stored for later. If your energy intake (via your food) is more than your energy output, then you’re likely to notice a weight increase over time.
Research has shown that an abnormal gut flora balance can influence your ability to maintain good weight management, and that a healthy composition and diversity of gut bacteria has a positive influence on weight control.
Consuming plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, nut and seeds for increased fibre, enzymes, prebiotics and nutrients (including antioxidants) can help you to support a healthy gut microbiome balance and therefore healthy weight.
6. Gut + Sleep
The ‘happy’ hormone serotonin made predominantly in the gut, is involved in sleep regulation and is a precursor to melatonin. That means we need serotonin in order to make melatonin for sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress levels and affects digestion and gut health. Lack of sleep can also cause you to seek out stimulants for instant energy like sugar, processed foods, energy drinks and coffee which all negatively affect gut balance.
How do probiotics work?
A probiotic is a yeast or bacterial strain that is compatible with us. Probiotics introduce good bacteria and help to keep pathogenic bacteria from dominating and upsetting the delicate ecosystem in your intestinal tract. Depending on the strain they reside in either the small or large intestine. Probiotics tend to multiply quickly and compete with the pathogenic ‘bad’ bacteria for food and space to establish a healthier balance between the two.
What are the benefits of taking probiotics?
While first recognised for their balancing effect to combat intestinal microbial overgrowth, probiotics are now recognised to have many other benefits. In supporting better gut flora balance, probiotics increase your capacity to digest food more effectively, ensuring your food is broken down to molecules (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) so that they can make their way seamlessly through the gut wall and into your blood stream, which your body needs to thrive.
Choose a probiotic right for your needs
The diversity of your gut microbiome and its balance can be supported by taking a probiotic.
Lifestream offer 3 probiotics to choose from designed to support your specific needs. If you need help with choosing the right probiotic for your, or if you're taking other medications, give our Naturopath a call for a confidential chat on 0800 88 15 15
Probiotics Mood + Immune: is a unique formula that supports your gut flora for healthy mood balance and immune defences. It's designed to support your body's response to everyday stress, support your immune system health and gut microbiome balance.
Probiotics Metabolise: contains 7 specific beneficial bacteria strains designed to support healthy gut and weight balance. It supports a healthy BMI, blood sugar levels, and healthy gut microbiome balance.
Probiotics 14 Strains: is a broad spectrum probiotic formula that can support the health of your skin, digestion, immune defences and more by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria. The capsules are micro-encapsulated for better absorption into your body, plus there's no need to keep them refrigerated - which is great if you need to keep your probiotics in your bag with you.