Why Gut Health is so Popular
Gut health is pretty popular right now. From probiotics to prebiotics and everything in between it has become a health craze where everyone is now increasingly concerned with increasing their healthy gut flora. The reason for this current gut obsession is because there have been studies linking gut imbalances to a variety of health conditions. From acne, depression, and cognitive decline. Not maintaining a healthy and balanced gut could contribute to a variety of health issues.
The Role of the Gut
In order to properly understand why gut health is so important and why everyone is focused on increasing gut health, you must know and understand the role the gut plays in our overall health and wellness.
There is a colony of microorganisms that live in our intestines. They are known as gut flora and make up the gut microbiota. Key responsibilities and functions of the gut microbiota are to digest foods that the stomach and the intestines can’t digest, prevents harmful bacteria from eating away at the lining of the gut and provides a barrier preventing harmful bacteria from causing us to become sick. When the gut microbiome is healthy and thriving so are we. When there is an imbalance in the gut microbiome this allows bad bacteria to grow in abundance decreasing the effectiveness of the good bacteria. This imbalance can lead to issues with digestion, immunity and can contribute to digestive issues.
Common Gut Issues
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is also referred to as IBS or spastic colon, is a disorder that results in abdominal pain and digestive upset. Common symptoms are a pain in the lower abdomen, excessive gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
While the exact cause of IBS is unknown and factors such as genetics, food intolerances, occurs after taking antibiotics or when you have experienced a stomach bug.
It is suspected that in some cases of IBS small intestinal bacterial overgrowth may (SIBO) may be a contributing factor as well as having a low level of inflammation within the lining of the small intestine.
When any of these contributing factors cause IBS to present itself it can make day to day life very uncomfortable. Working with a well informed medical professional that will help identify the exact cause of what is causing your digestive upset is key to getting you on the path to recovery.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome is an area of medicine that is considered a cloudy area. While this is not a true medical condition, but more so of a combination of symptoms that do not align or match with other more common digestive and gut issues. It is suspected that with leaky gut syndrome that there the lining in the GI tract becomes more permeable and allows undigested food particles into the bloodstream causing an inflammatory response within the body. This can also interfere with the proper uptake of many vitamins and minerals causing vitamin deficiencies to present themselves which can contribute to other health issues occurring.
Some signs and symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome are bloating, cramps, gas, food sensitivities, as well as aches and pains. While these set of symptoms are not unique and can quite often be confused with a variety of other digestive issues or may even be due to another underlying issue. Finding a medical professional that will take the time to work and seek the root cause of the problem and seek a proper diagnosis while working with you to ease symptoms and distress is key.
Irritable Bowel Disease
Irritable Bowel Disease or IBD refers to any disease that affects the large intestine and causes an inflammatory response to present itself. Conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease belong to the IBD family.
Ulcerative Colitis is when there is inflammation and ulcers in the innermost lining of the large intestine (the colon and rectum). Symptoms develop over a period of time and managing this condition can be quite difficult. Signs and symptoms include diarrhea with blood or pus, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.
If you begin to notice these persistent changes in your bowels it is time to schedule a visit with your doctor for an evaluation.
Crohn’s disease can affect the last segment of the small intestine or it can affect the colon. Crohns’s causes inflammation in the areas that it affects leading to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition.
If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s Disease or have persistent changes in your bowel habits for an extended period of time schedule an appointment with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and possible treatments.
How to Alter Gut Health with Fitness
While making changes to your diet it’s also a great idea to begin making strides to becoming more active. Studies show that starting with 30 to 60 minutes of low-intensity cardio for a minimum of three times per week can aid in stimulating changes in the gut microbiome that can lead to improving the amount of healthy gut flora as well as improving digestion which is important for those that suffer from IBS/IBD.
Low-intensity cardio can also diversify the gut flora which can increase butyrate, which is a sign of a healthy and thriving gut. Butyrate is produced as a by-product that is when specific bacterial strands are utilized in the gut microbiome. Regular exercise increases immunity, reduces inflammation, and decreases symptoms associated with IBD and IBS.
Some great low-intensity exercises to start with are:
- Aerobic Step Class
You can always progress to medium intensity exercise or alternate between low-intensity and medium-intensity. Some ideas for medium-intensity cardio would be:
Remember to progress to more intermediate forms of cardio activity when your body is ready for it. Advancing too quickly or going too hard in the gym can actually have some negative consequences. Prolonged exercise or doing more than the body can handle can actually increase inflammation, increasing gut permeability, and can lead to causing further issues with the gut-barrier. Remember it’s better to start slow and work up to a higher intensity than to start with higher intensity and cause more damage.
The Power of Supplementation
You already know from the previous blog that utilizing supplements such as probiotics and digestive enzymes can help to improve digestion while decreasing symptoms associated with common digestive issues. Research has also shown how supplementing with specific probiotic strands can help to improve exercise performance, increase muscle growth, and enhance energy. Studies have shown that supplementing with Lactobacillus plantarum can decrease the physical indicators of fatigue and aid in improving energy production and endurance during your exercise session.
The Keys of Gut Health
The most important factor in maintaining a healthy and balanced gut microbiome would be combining nutrition, exercise, and proper supplementation. These factors play an important role in rebuilding the gut, decreasing inflammation and encouraging the growth of healthy gut flora. Having a balanced and happy gut microbiome will cause visible changes in your health, performance, energy balance, body composition, and management of digestive disorders.
If you find the whole process of working towards improving your fitness and nutrition so you can conquer your digestive health issues overwhelming and you don’t know where to start hear me when I say that I can help you! You don’t have to struggle with this alone. I will be there with you every step of the way and can point you in the right direction and let you know how to implement nutritional changes and work on improving your fitness so that you can achieve recovery. If you want more information on how you can get the help you need in healing your gut through wellness coaching click here to schedule a FREE discovery session with me and we can discuss the next steps that you need to take.
Pratt, Elizabeth: January 12, 2018 Healthline Media: Research Says Exercise Also Improves Gut Bacteria https://www.healthline.com/health-news/exercise-improves-your-gut-bacteria#1
Monda, Vincenzo;Villano, Ines; Messina, Antoinetta; Valenzano, Anna; Espisito, Teresa; Moscatelli, Fiorenzo; Vigianno, Andrea; Cibelli, Giuseppe; Chieffi, Sergio; Marcellino, Monda; Messinia, Giovanni March 5, 2017 US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health: Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357536/