There are few systems within the human body that contribute quite as much and as noticeably to overall health as the gut. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is often referred to as the body’s “second brain,” as nerves within the gut are capable of communicating with the brain and can influence both hunger and mood. This connection is commonly referred to as the “Gut-Brain Axis.” When microflora within the gut is properly balanced, it leaves you feeling comfortable, regular and able to freely go about your day. But what if an imbalance exists?
A number of different factors can influence the gut microbiome—the use of antibiotics, for example. Like many other systems present throughout the body, the gut often provides us with clear warning signs when something is wrong, many of which occur with such frequency for some people that they come to be viewed as “normal.”
Is your gut trying to tell you something? Here are a handful of signs to look out for, all of which suggest that the microbiome may be out of balance.
1. Stress & Mood Struggles
Mental health issues affect approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults within a given year, with disorders such as anxiety and depression ranging from being mild to debilitating in severity. Most people who suffer from mental health issues are unlikely to think that gut health may be involved, but science has shown that the intestines actually release neurotransmitters that communicate directly with the brain. To add causation, trends in studies have pointed to people who suffer from chronic mental health issues also having disturbances in gut bacteria, further making the case for gut health influencing mental health disorders such as ADHD and OCD.
2. GI Troubles
It’s normal to experience occasional GI troubles from time to time, especially when eating something the body isn’t used to. Suffering from bloating, cramping or excess gas on a regular basis, however, is a sure sign that things are off balance. As numbers of “good” bacteria within the gut decrease, the “bad’ bacteria that causes GI discomfort grows and only serves to make matters worse. This puts people at risk for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can be notoriously difficult to treat without the help of probiotics.
3. Frequent Colds
No matter how much work people put into staying healthy during cold and flu season, it’s not uncommon for viruses to strike when we least expect them. Some people find themselves getting sick numerous times throughout the year, however, which may point to something more sinister going on. With over 75% of the body’s immune system found in the gastrointestinal tract, it stands to reason just how important it is to maintain a healthy microbiome. Beneficial probiotic strains are capable of populating gut microflora so that bacteria from seasonal illnesses, such as common colds, are not able to reside, and thus effectively control the never-ending cycle of upper respiratory illnesses.
4. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
It’s not uncommon to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals without even knowing it. Those who find this out about themselves, however, often do so after spending years wondering why they don’t feel their best. While plenty of factors can influence how the body is able to absorb vitamins and minerals, the gut plays a major role that should not go overlooked. Properly balanced microflora produces healthy mucus in the GI tract, which works to absorb the vitamins and minerals that help support the immune system. Otherwise, harmful bacteria is allowed to grow and thrive instead. In even more complex scenarios, extremely bioactive probiotic strains are themselves able to manufacture (synthesize) certain vitamins and active compounds (such a carotenoids) in the gut flora.
5. Skin Problems
Do you find yourself wishing your skin looked a bit clearer at times? Occasional acne or dandruff may be nothing to worry about, but persistent skin issues can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing to manage. If you’re looking to find the root cause of a skin issue that just won’t seem to let up, you may want to look to the gut. Imbalance in the microbiome can lead to inflammation, which in turn can affect healthy skin in a number of negative ways. Itching, flaking and redness can all be signs that your GI tract is in desperate need of good microflora, especially when problems become chronic. Eczema itself may have bacterial origins and numerous probiotics, especially in Europe, are administered to help alleviate Eczema in adults, children and infants.
6. Weight Loss Difficulties
As difficult as it can be for many of us to lose weight, some seem to make no progress whatsoever—regardless of how much effort goes into dieting and exercising. For those who are significantly overweight, these difficulties may be a sign of a gut imbalance. Being overweight can influence the balance of microflora in the GI tract, which tends to differ from those who maintain a healthy weight. Fortunately, losing weight and supplementing with probiotics can help to restore balance in the gut, even if things have been “out of whack” for many years.
7. Autoimmune Diseases
Research is still being conducted to determine just what kind of effects the gut has on autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, which can be very difficult to manage. As is the case with mental health disorders and gut health, however, links have been emerging in studies that show correlation between unhealthy guts and major autoimmune diseases. Experts are still unsure of what causes the body to literally attack itself as with cases of RA, Crohn's Disease and lupus, but maintaining strong gut health may serve to reduce inflammation throughout the body and is highly recommended for those suffering from these or other autoimmune diseases.
Balancing Your Gut Health
The state of your gastrointestinal tract can clearly have influence over many different aspects of the body. Fortunately, rebalancing gut health isn’t quite as difficult as most people tend to think, and the benefits of doing so far outweigh the effort. Want to rebalance your gut? Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction:
Reduce Your Stress Levels: Stress is unhealthy for a wide variety of reasons, and it can certainly have a negative effect on your gut’s microbiome. Keeping stress levels should be a priority as you work toward improving balance in your GI tract, so be sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise on a regular basis.
Cut Toxins: There are certain foods that may contribute to the growth of “bad” bacteria that causes many of the issues listed above in the first place. Grains, sugar and unhealthy oils should be avoided by those who suffer from severe GI disturbances.
Eat Fermented Foods: Probiotics can help to restore order to the gut, and they can be found in concentrated amounts in certain fermented foods. Kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and and yogurt are not only delicious—they’re loaded with good, live bacteria, too!
Take a Probiotic Supplement: While fermented foods offer a good base of probiotics, a supplement is often necessary for restoring the gut to a healthy balance. Look for products that contain clinically verified amounts of strain-specific, Lactobacilli or Bifidobacterium, from trusted brands.
So don’t just assume you have to endure gut issues for the rest of your life. Many probiotic products are designed specifically to help restore balance to the gut and bring the microbiome back to a healthy state. Combined with a healthy diet, a probiotic supplement may be exactly what’s needed to bring your gut back to optimum health and put an end to your symptoms, once and for all.
About Innovia Nectar
Innovia Nectar is the first probiotic exclusively using innovative technology that guarantees an excellent probiotic shelf stability for 24 months. Unlike other probiotics, it’s designed with a micro-shot system that separates the powder probiotic from the plant extract- and vitamin-fortified liquid until the moment the packaging seal is broken and the two are combined. This unique system keeps the probiotic fresh, dry and stable until the moment of consumption.
SOFAR Americas, Inc. is owned by Italian pharmaceutical manufacturing firm SOFAR S.p.A., who has 45 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical and Nutritional field producing branded pharmaceuticals, medical devices and dietary supplements of the highest quality. Expertise, flexibility, and innovation are the guiding values and allow the design, development, production and distribution of the innovative products for the health and the well-being of the people.