Gut Health FAQ
What Is the Gut Microbiome?
The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes that live in our gut.
These microorganisms help our overall health tremendously, as they help us digest foods that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to, such as plant fiber.
They play an incredibly important role in regulating digestion and aiding our immune system, among other significant health benefits.
How Does Gut Health Impact Overall Health?
The gut microbiome is very closely linked to overall health and wellness. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a group of over 100 million nerve cells that line our gastrointestinal tract.
The ENS is responsible for many essential physiological functions, including digestion and immunity response.
Our gut health affects how well our ENS can perform its basic duties. Not only can a healthy gut keep our digestive system in proper shape, but it can also help prevent serious illnesses and conditions, such as:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Autoimmune diseases
Our gut health is also linked to our immune system. Dan Peterson, professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says, “A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract.” So, boosting your gut health will boost your body’s overall ability to stave off even simple illnesses like the flu.
Additionally, an unhealthy gut can also cause mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Whereas gastrointestinal issues and mental health problems have been known to be correlated for decades, it’s only recently that studies have found a causal relationship between gut health and mental health.
The gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication that happens between the enteric nervous system (CNS) and the central nervous system (CNS). This communication shows that our gut health has a direct impact on our mental health, as the ENS is in charge of releasing critical neurotransmitters for mood and cognitive capacities, such as serotonin and dopamine.
In other words, gut health is intrinsically linked to both physical and mental health. If you suffer from frequent illnesses or mental health problems, focusing on healing your gut may prove helpful in staying happy and healthy.
How Can I Improve My Gut Health?
Improving gut health involves a combination of diet and lifestyle changes. The number one indicator of a healthy gut microbiome is food diversity in diet. A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome, so including the largest number of plants, fruits, whole grains, and legumes in your diet is the easiest way to ensure that you can host the largest number of healthy bacteria species in your body as possible.
Other lifestyle changes that can help improve your gut health are:
- Getting enough sleep and a stable circadian rhythm
- Minimizing alcohol consumption
- Avoiding antibiotic use whenever possible
- Eliminating cigarette use
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing stress
You can also improve your gut health by taking a gut health test to see what your microbiome looks like. OSbiome offers Gut Health Test Kits that will give you personalized results and custom diet and lifestyle suggestions for a healthier gut microbiome.
Which Foods Promote a Healthy Gut?
The number one indicator of a healthy microbiome is the diversity of plants in your diet. The more plants you can consume on a regular basis, the more diverse and balanced your gut microbiome will be.
Specifically, you should try to consume as wide a variety of fruits and vegetables as possible. The more, the merrier! Next time you visit the grocery store, try buying (and eating!) as many of the following as you can:
- Fermented foods. Most fermented foods will be incredible for your health, including kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and tempeh.
- Vegetables. Try including all kinds of vegetables in your diet for a more diverse microbiome.
- Fruits. Most fruits are packed with plant fiber, which is an excellent food source for the bacteria in your gut.
- Nuts and seeds. These foods pack a lot of protein and plant fiber, also making them excellent choices for gut health.
- Whole grains. No need to villainize bread and brown rice! Try going for fermented, sprouted, or sourdough whenever possible.
Making a conscious effort to include more of these foods in your diet will do wonders for your gut health.
Are Probiotics Good for Gut Health?
Yes! Taking probiotic supplements on a regular basis can help introduce millions of new bacteria to your gut. While this can be a great way to bounce back after taking antibiotics, consumption of probiotics alone won’t help you get a balanced gut. Instead, you should focus on a healthy balance between probiotics and prebiotics.
What Are the Signs of an Unhealthy Gut?
If you have an unhealthy gut, you may notice one or several of the following symptoms:
If you experience any of the conditions listed above, you may want to take a gut health test to take a deeper look at your microbiome. The OSbiome Gut Health Test Kits provide 15 proprietary health scores based on your test results so you can have a clear overview of your gut health.
Can Gut Health Help With Bloating and Gas?
Improving your gut health can help relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal problems like bloating and gas by reversing dysbiosis. An unbalanced gut microbiome will trigger issues in the GI tract such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, and inflammation.
Can Gut Health Help Reduce Anxiety and Depression?
Gut health can help reduce mental health problems like anxiety and depression. The gut-brain axis is the intimate connection between our brains and our guts. Our gut microbiome is able to communicate with the brain through the enteric nervous system (ENS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Through this connection, our gut is able to impact our overall mood and mental health by releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. In fact, over 90% of all serotonin produced in our body (also known as the “happy hormone”) is produced in our gut!
Thus, working on improving your gut health can have a significant impact on your mood and overall mental state. If you’d like to drastically improve your gut health to treat mental health issues, you should take a gut health test to learn more about the status of your gut health.
The OSbiome Gut Health Test Kits come with 15 proprietary health scores, including mental health and mood scores. After taking our quick test, you’ll be able to get an intimate understanding of your gut health and how it may affect your overall mood and mental health. You’ll also receive detailed instructions on how to change your diet and lifestyle for a healthier gut microbiome.
Is Gut Health Related to Food Allergies or Food Sensitivities?
New studies have shown evidence that the gut microbiome may be related to food allergies and sensitivities. These studies suggest that food allergies and sensitivity to certain food types may be developed as a result of gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in our gut microbiome.
Since the gut microbiome is intrinsically linked to immunity and food tolerance, having a weak or imbalanced gut flora can develop an inability to digest certain foods. Although further evidence is needed to understand how our gut health can influence our allergies and sensitivities, evidence suggests that a gut microbiome in dysbiosis can be a precursor to certain allergies and intolerances.