Gut Health 101: Understanding Your Gut

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

gut health

If you believe that there’s a gut health revolution in the offing, you’re not alone. After several decades of neglect, research into the microbiome has exploded in the last five years.

Put shortly, we’re talking about our gut – not just in illness but in health. This poses new questions and challenges medical practitioners trying to relieve their patients’ symptoms.

Gut Health: Why Is It Important?

Human guts are the product of millions of years and hundreds of different species’ evolution. They’ve evolved so extensively and so perfectly that it’s no surprise gut dysfunction can have such serious health consequences. So it’s time to take a closer look at your gut, how it works and why it matters.

Gut health is important because the digestive system plays a role in the body’s overall health and can affect everything from your mood to your weight.

The gut is responsible for processing food and absorbing nutrients, as well as eliminating waste. In order to work properly, the gut needs a healthy balance of bacteria—some are good, while some are considered as bad gut bacteria.

The good bacteria help keep out harmful invaders and assist with digestion. When something goes wrong with these bacteria, it can lead to an imbalance called dysbiosis, which can cause a host of problems including leaky gut syndrome and other conditions.

It’s important to understand how your gut works because it affects so many different aspects of your life: weight loss or gain, mood swings, fatigue, and even your skin.

What Are the Signs of a Healthy Gut?

In health, your gut is a critical pathway between the outside world and your inner environment. It’s a major battleground in the war over your health.

When you’re talking about your gut, it’s important to understand what a healthy gut looks like. The good news is that there are some clear ways to tell that your gut is doing well—and some things you can do to help it stay that way.

Here are four signs of a healthy gut:

man and woman eating healthy breakfast
  • Your stool is formed and not watery or loose
  • You have no trouble digesting food
  • You aren’t experiencing constipation or diarrhea regularly
  • You don’t experience any pain when eating

What Are the Signs of Poor Gut Health?

We can’t see our gut, hear it, or touch it—we sense it only through the sensations it produces: heartburn, acid reflux, ‘butterflies in the stomach,’ and so on. It’s one of the most interesting parts of our bodies: a complex community of flora and fauna that’s essential to how we function.

A healthy gut is a happy gut. The intestines are responsible for moving food through your body, and they do so by absorbing nutrients and expelling waste. A healthy gut is one that’s able to get the job done easily and efficiently.

If you’re concerned about your gut health, there are a few things you can check for to gauge how well your intestines are functioning:

  • You often have gas or bloating after meals.
  • Your stools are hard and difficult to pass.
  • You frequently experience diarrhea or constipation (or both!)
  • You have trouble digesting certain foods like dairy or gluten.
  • You have signs of having leaky gut syndrome

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which the walls of your intestines become too porous, allowing partially digested food particles and bacteria to enter your bloodstream.

This can cause an inflammatory response in the body, which can lead to symptoms like bloating, gas, joint pain, fatigue and indigestion.

There are some telltale signs that you may have leaky gut syndrome. These include:

  • Bloating and/or gas after meals
  • Indigestion after eating
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes
woman with stomach ache lying in bed

If you suspect you might have leaky gut, and you have no time to consult a medical professional, take this preliminary leaky gut test online. For the proper and official diagnosis and treatment, seek the help of your doctor even after taking the test.

Leaky Gut Treatment

Would you like to know how to heal your gut naturally? How long does it take to heal your gut? There are several ways to reset your gut health in as fast as 3-days to 2-weeks. Here are some solutions that you can consider on how to fix leaky gut:

Foods to Avoid When You Have Leaky Gut

The first thing to note is that leaky gut is not an allergy or intolerance. It’s a condition that occurs when the lining of your intestines becomes damaged, allowing toxins and microbes to enter into your bloodstream. This can lead to inflammation and other problems in your body.

There are two main types of food that can cause this damage: foods with lectins and foods with gluten. Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates, and they can be found in potatoes, nuts, tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, eggplant and more. Gluten is a protein found in wheat products like breads and pastas.

The most important thing for someone with a leaky gut is to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet: no processed foods or refined sugars; lots of fruits and vegetables; moderate amounts of healthy fats (like avocado); low-carb dairy products like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese; small amounts of lean meats like chicken breast or turkey breast. Here are foods that you need to avoid when you have leaky gut:

Coffee

Coffee is a diuretic, meaning that it makes you urinate more water and electrolytes than you take in. This can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight, but if you’re dehydrated or trying to heal your gut, then it’s not a good idea.

coffee with ground coffee beans

The caffeine in coffee can also worsen symptoms of gastric reflux and heartburn. If you suffer from these problems, then drinking coffee will only make them worse. Coffee also contains oxalates, which are compounds found in many plants and vegetables that can cause kidney stones when consumed in high doses over time.

Alcohol

When you have a leaky gut, you can’t tolerate alcohol very well. Alcohol is a toxin that can make your gut even more leaky, and it also causes inflammation in the body.

When you have a leaky gut, your immune system is working overtime to repair the damage. When it comes to alcohol consumption, your immune system is busy fighting off another type of invader—the ethanol in the alcohol itself.

So when you drink alcohol while your immune system is already busy healing your intestines, it can make things worse by adding more toxins to an already-toxic environment.

Alcohol also causes an inflammatory response in the body. The liver immediately breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde and then into acetate—which are both inflammatory chemicals.

Acetaldehyde is directly toxic to intestinal cells and can cause additional damage while they’re trying to repair themselves after being exposed to an irritant like gluten or dairy (which are also inflammatory).

Gluten

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is an irritant to the gastrointestinal tract. When gluten is eaten by someone with a leaky gut, it causes inflammation in the small intestine.

In addition to causing inflammation, the intestinal wall may become more permeable (or “leaky”), allowing undigested food particles to pass through. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea and constipation.

wheat field

It’s important to avoid gluten when you have leaky gut because it can make your symptoms worse and contribute to further complications such as malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies.

Processed Foods and Refined Sugars

Processed foods contain preservatives, additives, and sugar that can irritate your digestive system. These foods tend to be high in sodium, which can increase inflammation in your body as well as cause water retention.

Additionally, processed foods are often high in histamine or glutamate—both of which can damage your intestinal lining even further and make symptoms worse.

Ways To Improve Gut Health

So why do you need to improve your gut health? Well, it turns out that having a healthy gut can actually help relieve the symptoms of many illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even autism spectrum disorder.

Gut health doesn’t just affect physical health though—it can also impact mental health and cognitive performance, too.

Here are some tips on how to improve gut microbiome and your gut health:

Sleep

Sleeping well is important for your gut health because it helps you digest food more effectively. When you’re sleep deprived, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause inflammation in the gut and lead to a leaky gut. Here are more ways on how to sleep better.

Manage Stress

Stress is a major driver of gut health problems, because it can make your immune system overactive and cause an inflammatory response. And when your immune system is overactive, your body can’t fight off the things it needs to fight—like pathogens and harmful organisms that can lead to infections or diseases.

happy woman smiling with eyes closed

But how does stress affect your gut? It’s all about the microbiome, which refers to the bacteria that live in your digestive tract.

When you’re stressed, the microbiome gets thrown off balance—and then it starts doing weird things like producing more toxins, making your intestines inflamed and leaky, and even changing how much water gets absorbed by your body.

The result is that stress has a direct impact on your gut health—which means that managing stress will help improve your gut health. Learn more about the gut-brain connection here.

Take Prebiotics or Probiotics

Your gut is made up of bacteria. These bacteria help you digest food and synthesize vitamins, but they also make up a huge part of your immune system. When these bacteria are healthy and balanced, you can fight off illness more easily and have a stronger immune system overall.

But if your gut isn’t healthy, it doesn’t matter how many probiotics or prebiotics you take—you won’t be able to fight off infections or diseases without a strong immune system to back you up.

That’s why taking probiotics and prebiotics that contain strains such as Saccharomyces boulardii is so important: they can help to keep your gut healthy so that it can keep you healthy.

Drink Plenty of Water

Water is essential for the proper functioning of your digestive system. When you don’t drink enough water, it can cause dehydration—the loss of too much water from your body.

This can make your gut function poorly and cause cramps, bloating, gas and constipation. Drinking enough water will help keep your body hydrated so that it can work as efficiently as possible.

Alter Your Diet

Check out this list of foods that leads to a healthier gut. A healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy weight, which goes hand in hand with improving your gut health.

A healthy weight helps reduce stress on the body and reduces inflammation, which can cause negative effects on your digestive system.

woman enjoying healthy food

It also helps you maintain a balanced metabolism, which means you’ll be able to absorb nutrients better and keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Here is another interesting article on consuming mushroom for gut health, in case mushrooms are one of your pantry staples.

Take Supplements

When you’re dealing with the issues that can arise from having a gut that isn’t functioning correctly, it can be hard to know where to start. The good news is that there are a lot of ways you can improve your gut health, even if you feel like it’s too far gone to recover.

For starters, taking supplements is one of the easiest ways to get started. You don’t have to change your diet or lifestyle; all you need to do is take supplements and watch your symptoms start to fade away.

There are great gut supplements available in the market, and are very easy to include in your food or beverages. You can also use home remedies such as aloe vera.

Try Cleansing Your Gut!

And no, this does not need to be done by a medical professional. You can definitely do your cleanse at home, just follow this simple gut cleanse protocol.

I have also prepared a quick, easy gut cleanse meal plan (click here for leaky diet plan pdf), as well as which gut cleanse supplements I would highly recommend. As you stay hydrated, drink these juice cleanse recipes and let me know how you feel after.

Conclusion

So, do you have the guts to be healthy? Feed your gut the right kinds of foods and you’ll set the foundation for a happy, healthy life.

Maintain it with your environment and you’ll always have a clean slate to start from no matter what happens in your life. And maybe one day soon, we’ll unravel even more mysteries about the microbiome that are sure to afford us even more ways to improve our health and longevity.

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