When Good Guts go Bad Part 1: 6 Lifestyle Factors that Damage your Gut
Constipation. Diarrhea. Bloating. Gas. Indigestion. Nausea. These are symptoms that everyone has experienced at one time or another in their lives. For most people these are short-term and can be traced back to one cause – a tropical vacation, an overindulgent bachelorette party, too much spicy food, a nasty virus. But for many, these feelings are constant, everyday reminders that something isn’t quite right with your digestive system. Maybe a doctor has diagnosed you with the dreaded Irritable Bowel Syndrome, aka the “we don’t know and can’t help you” Syndrome. It’s distracting, embarrassing and a deep blow to your quality of life.
6 Lifestyle Factors that Damage your Gut
1. Highly Processed Diet
Processed foods, with all their additives and sugar and lack of fiber, may be formulated in ways that disturb the gut microbiome, according to recent research. The gut microbiome consists of trillions of diverse bacteria lining our intestines and colon. Those disturbances, in turn, may heighten the risk of chronic disease and encourage overeating.
2. Excessive Alcohol
Heavy alcohol use encourages an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria while reducing the population of good bacteria. This can lead to inflammation, and allows toxins to enter the bloodstream. A disruption in the balance of gut bacteria can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and compromise the intestinal lining.
3. Lack of Exercise
Exercise can change the composition of your gut microbiome. The trillions of microscopic organisms in the gut play a crucial role in our overall health and function of the body. In a study from the University of Illinois, researchers found that exercising for just six weeks could have an impact on the microbiome.
4. Antibiotic Overuse
As opposed to probiotics (meaning "for life"), antibiotics ("against life") indiscriminately destroy all bacteria in the body, reducing microbial diversity and shifting the balance of the microbiome to favor unwanted strains. Don't get us wrong, antibiotics can be lifesavers, it’s just important to take steps to protect your “good” strains after a course.
5. Poor Sleep
Lack of sleep and a disruption in circadian rhythms (sometimes caused by too much screen time!) have also been shown to alter the microbiota for the worse.
Research has found that exposure to stress leads to an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria while simultaneously reducing microbial diversity in the large intestine.
We've been there, and we know what it's like not to feel your best for weeks, months or even years at a time. We created Gut Garden and the GoodGut Program to take the guesswork out of restoring optimal gut health.