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Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Your Gut Health

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Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Your Gut Health

Your gut health has a more significant influence on your overall well-being than you might think. Read on to find out why it’s essential to be mindful of it.

Your gut consists of your stomach and your intestines. There is a diverse microbiome within your gut that aids in digestion, and the foods you eat have an influence. Your gut health influences your health and well-being. 

Healthy Lifestyle Medicine in Cheyenne, Wyoming, specializes in integrative medicine to evaluate and improve your gut health. Our providers Kristine Van Kirk, MD, and Kelly Gebauer, WHNP-BC, offer anti-inflammatory nutrition and gut health services, helping you better understand the role your gut health plays in maintaining your health. 

If you have little to no understanding of gut health and its importance, you’re far from alone. Learning about gut health helps you avoid potential health issues and symptoms. 

Immune cells in your gut provide protection 

Your immune system has many components that all work to prevent infections and other illnesses. With compromised immunity, you’re at a higher risk of certain diseases. 

Most people don’t realize that their gut health is strongly linked to immunity. That is because immune cells live inside your gut among the healthy bacteria. They help fight harmful bacteria, as well as other pathogens like viruses and fungi. In fact, the cells lining your gut excrete these immune cells. 

The gut’s connection to your brain

Your gut communicates with your brain via hormones and nerve signals. In fact, some experts dub the gut, “the second brain” or “the brain in your gut.” It’s also called the enteric nervous system (ENS). 

The ENS consists of two layers of over 100 million nerve cells lining your digestive tract. These nerves control all the steps of digestion, including: 

  • The release of enzymes
  • Swallowing
  • Nutrient absorption
  • Excretion

When something’s wrong in your gut, the consequences can affect your mental well-being, as well as your physical health. In addition to GI symptoms, like diarrhea and bloating, an unhealthy or imbalanced gut can lead to significant emotional shifts like depression or anxiety. Interestingly, antidepressants work for many as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Similar to how those medications act on nerve cells in your brain, they also act on nerve cells in your ENS.

How to keep a healthy gut

Maintaining your gut health is something you might not think much about when planning your diet and choosing foods. Because an unhealthy gut can contribute to mental health issues, endocrine problems, infections, and other health consequences, you should familiarize yourself with the signs of gut problems. 

The signs of an unhealthy gut are somewhat ambiguous but can include:

  • Increased stress
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stomach pain
  • Skin irritation
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea

Our experts at Healthy Lifestyle Medicine invite you to the office to review your current diet and find ways of improving your gut health. That might involve dietary changes or taking supplements to nourish the biome. 

If you’re ready to learn more about the importance of gut health, book an appointment at Healthy Lifestyle Medicine online or with a phone call today.