Gut health is an often misunderstood domain of fitness and wellness that individuals neglect when starting their weight-loss transformations. Instead, we throw tons of protein, energy drinks, powders and supplements into our systems and hope for the best, never spending a second to reflect on our actions.
If this sounds like you, cut yourself some slack — we’ve all been there. However, as we age and our bodies adapt to outside stimuli, we need new, novel adaptations to force our systems to grow and shed unwanted weight. Whether you’re 75-years-old and want to run around with your grandkids or leave college and want to build your six-pack, here’s why you must prioritize your gut health in 2022.
What Is Poor Gut Health and How Do You Know When Something Is Wrong?
Gut health is an all-encompassing term used to describe the gastrointestinal tract, with particular emphasis on digestion. When you consume a meal or gulp down a beverage, your organs process, filter, store and extract valuable vitamins and minerals for your body to use later.
However, not all gastrointestinal tracts are created the same: when we neglect our internal mechanisms, or worse, incorporate gut-damaging habits, the cracks around the edges begin to show.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
There’s good news and bad news: the bad news — gut health can lead to serious health issues, and when left untreated, create a lacklustre quality of life. However, the good news is that poor gut efficiency is a straightforward problem to fix, and individuals who emphasize their gastrointestinal health notice positive changes in a matter of days.
Each of these red flags has enough medical data to fill hundreds of medical journals, so we’ll keep it short and sweet.
Here are the most glaringly obvious signs of an unhealthy gut to watch for:
- Bloating that won’t go away
- Excess weight gain and bulging midsection
- Chronic nausea
- Gas buildup
- Unproductive visits to the bathroom (constipation)
- Diarrhea and watery stool
- Irregular bathroom visits
- Frequent acne breakouts
- Oily skin
- Sluggishness and poor sleep
More specifically, your immune system is constantly on the alert and working overtime to fight viruses, unhealthy bacteria and disease when you have declining gut health. If you’re falling ill multiple times a year with symptoms that range from severe to acute, your issue lies in the way your body digests your food and the bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract.
Surprising Variables That Influence the Integrity of Your Gut
A nugget of wisdom that always catches people by surprise is how a wide array of food items can positively influence their gut integrity. No, we don’t mean you should try every flavour combination at The Cheesecake Factory, but it’s not far off!
A wide selection of all-natural vegetables, lean proteins, beverages and poultry do the body good. Each of these groups stimulates new bacterial growth in the gut, and it helps existing ecosystems to recover and heal themselves in dire medical events and trauma.
And if that weren’t surprising enough, antibiotic use may cause more harm than intended. The medicine our doctors prescribe has one goal: cure the symptom and eliminate discomfort. However, it ignores the fact that many pharmaceutical-grade medications strip our gut of its healthy bacteria, making digestion, absorption and recovery a dreary process.
If you’ve used a heavy-duty antibiotic lately, it’s time to restore your natural bacteria by developing a healthy fitness routine. Fitness is, without a doubt, mother nature’s most potent medicine. And unlike the over-the-counter products lining shelves, it only costs your sweat and dedication.
New data suggests that individuals who regularly partake in aerobic exercises have elevated concentrations of butyrate in their systems. Butyrate serves many functions in the body, but its primary role is producing digestive bacteria to keep the system healthy and efficient.
If we’ve thoroughly scared you with all of these medical topics, don’t fret: here are a few essential tips to restart your gut health and live your best life starting today.
Step 1: Introduce Healthy Bacteria
Before you squirm out of your chair and close the page, listen up: healthy bacteria and your gut have a romance that’s been around since humankind first blinked into existence. Without these bacteria in your digestive tract, your world would turn to chaos before you could mutter the phrase “pizza!”
New data released by Harvard Medical School revealed that over 100-trillion — yes, that’s trillion with a ‘t’ — live inside your system right now. That means, in a general sense, more bacteria lives inside your digestive tract than the number of people who have existed since, well, ever!
Now that your mind is in a million pieces, we need to introduce healthy bacteria into our system to help us process food, eliminate waste and absorb essential vitamins and nutrients:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Step 2: Leave Your Stress at the Door
Stress is our biggest threat, not only to our gut but our overall well-being and quality of life. Nothing feels worse than anxiety-stricken panic attacks and constantly worrying about elaborate “what-if” scenarios that float into our heads.
With that said, eliminating stressful environments filled with toxic individuals and behaviours is essential for our gut. Whether you want to meditate, practice mindfulness or tackle a challenging workout, it’s up to you! Find an outlet that stimulates your heart, mind and generates a sense of calm once completed!
A relaxed state assists the gut in its natural process of digesting materials and eliminating toxins, so start today! Find a friend or family member who wants to embark upon this journey with you and begin stress-free living immediately!
Step 3: Prioritize Fiber Intake
Fibre is what helps us go to the bathroom, and a diet without adequate amounts of this mineral is devastating, to put it mildly. If you constantly battle the bathroom or feel like your visits are unproductive, fibre is the essential component missing from your diet.
Leafy greens and vibrant fruits are your best friends when increasing fibre intake. Each of these tasty treats contains anywhere from 1g to 5g of fibre, and throwing these components into a large salad will surely assist you in your goal of becoming a health-conscious individual.
More specifically, fibre increases satiation, or the feeling of fullness when you finish a meal. If you regularly go back for seconds and thirds after dinner or keep a drawer filled with sugary delights, fibre will help keep your cravings curbed by stimulating the production of your body’s leptin hormone.
Keep your energy high and your stomach filled with fibre-fueled goodies like kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, strawberries, raspberries, almonds, oats and sweet potatoes!
Step 4: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
The best for last — get your water intake up! Water is the essential element of life, and if you plan to have a healthy gut or lead a productive schedule, you better pack your water bottle!
Water is the fuel for mentally-demanding tasks in the office, but it also gives you the extra motivation to head to the gym and crush your workout. In the same way that you wouldn’t plan a cross-country road trip without fueling your car, neglecting water and demanding excellence from your body is a fool’s game.
Although the science is still up for debate regarding how much water you need, listen to your body’s natural yearning: if you’re thirsty, drink. If you’re not, don’t force it. These subtle cues let you know when your hydration is lacking, and getting in touch with the delicate dance of your system is paramount for health and wellness.
And if the thought of chugging ice water makes you dry heave, don’t sweat! Adding zero-calorie flavour packets, lemon, assorted fruits, seltzers and carbonation into your water still counts as “regular” water consumption. More importantly, water consumption positively influences the lining of the gut walls, also known as the mucosal barrier. So, get up and get a glass of water!
If you’re ready to take the plunge today and start taking care of your gut bacteria, IsaaXcess and Isagenix are here to help. Our elite supplements are in a league of their own, and our specialized formulas improve gut health and stimulate healthy bacterial growth. Whether you’re an avid fitness enthusiast or getting back into the swing of things, internal health is the place to start!