Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a major gut health problem that affects almost 50 million Americans or nearly one in six people. The human gut is home to approximately 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) microorganisms. That’s such a big number our human brains can’t really comprehend it. One trillion dollar bills laid end-to-end would stretch from the earth to the sun – and back. The earth is 93 million miles from the sun. Travel to the sun and back 100 times and you start to get at least a vague idea of how much 100 trillion is. If our gut contains 100 trillion microorganisms, they must be pretty important to the health of out GI tract, and our overall health.
Why Gut Health is Important?
Did you know that 60% to 70% of our immune system lives in our gut, and is not a bunch of organisms floating in our bloodstream waiting to attack invading cells, bacteria, or viruses? So that begs the next question, how does gut health contribute to the symptoms of IBS? Gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 75% of the immune system.
Sadly, most people have no idea of the impact an unhealthy GI tract can have on overall well-being. The microbiome is composed of trillions of bacteria, and plays a major role in many aspects of our health.
Your gut must be pretty important because we refer to it in many of our conversations, such as: “I have a gut instinct,” or “my gut told me not to do this or that,” or when you are worried, scared or stressed out where do you feel it? That’s right….in your gut.
If our gut and GI Tract is so important why don’t we make a point to take better care of it? We are told to take care of our heart by eating healthy and exercising; take care of our minds by eliminating stress or anxiety; take care of our lungs by not smoking, and take care our body. When was the last time you heard about the need to take care of your gut health? More importantly, even if you were told to, how do you take care of gut health anyway? Unfortunately, most people never think of adding take care of gut health, until we have problems, such Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBD), Leaky Gut (yuk!), or other autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s or Celiac Disease that affect gut health.
What Causes Gut Health Problems?
- Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs
- Poor diets high in refined carbohydrates, trans-fats, processed sugar, Omega-6 and processed foods
- Diets low in fresh fruits, vegetables, fermentable fibers, Omega-3 Fetty Acids
- Wheat and grain products
- Industrial seed oils (corn oil, cotton seed oil) that cause leaky gut
- Chronic stress, anxiety or depression
- Chronic infections
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Lack of regular exercise atleast 3 times per week
- Insomnia or poor sleep habits
Dangers of Processed Foods for Gut Health
Processed foods have definitely made our hectic lives easier, but at what cost? Processed foods aren’t good for your body, since they’re packed with sugar (including fructose), synthetic and rancid fats, preservatives, genetically modified (GM) ingredients, additives, and more. While processed foods may contain fruit or vegetable ingredients, which give the illusion you are getting a full RDA of vitamins and nutrients, by the time they get into you mouth all the vitamins, nutrients, and healthy microorganisms and flora your gut craves has been cooked out. In addition, simple sugars in processed foods increases inflammatory markers in your blood that lead to gut health disorders, such Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Processed foods are depleted of vital organisms your gut needs to properly and completely digest food and break it down to nourish and fuel your body. Processed foods also contribute to inflammation of the GI Tract, which is a major contributor to the common symptoms of IBS, illnesses, disease, poor immune system health and overall poor health.
To replace the lost vitamins, nutrients, probiotics and flora your gut needs, due to poor western diet that favors foods heated up in microwave to home cooking with natural and healthy ingredients, people load up on vitamins and supplements.
Approximately 85 percent of bacteria in your GI Tract are good guys, while 15-20 percent are bad guys (bad bacteria, viruses) that can lead to gut health problems, such as:
- Stomach cramps
- Inflammation of GI System
- Weak Immune System
When the harmful bacteria stage a revolt, all hell breaks loose. They totally gum up your GI Tract, and cause painful problems like inflammation and infection, which can then lead to health issues such as constipation, candida, allergies, arthritis, headaches, depression, autoimmune diseases and more.
How to Improve Gut Health?
By making simple lifestyle and diet changes, you can reverse symptoms of IBS, improve your gut health and regain your health and your life back, such as:
- Eliminate Processed foods
- Eat a Paleo Diet
- Eat a healthy diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and fish, which promotes production of healthy gut bacteria and flora
- Eat a handful of almonds or walnuts a day
- Eat fish high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids atleast 1-3 times per week
- Eliminate wheat and dairy products fro your diet, which can lead to autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s and Celiac Disease
- Add a natural IBS Treatment, which includes vital healthy gut microorganisms that promote healthy gut function, digestive enzymes and probiotic vitamins.
Ken Weiss is a health blogger who is passionate about natural and holistic cures for men’s health issues. He is the founder of menshealthcures.com