COMMON FACTORS AFFECTING OUR GUT HEALTH
Today, experts and scientists from the medical community affirm that a healthy gut has a tremendous impact on our general health and overall well-being. It is the cornerstone for optimal health and the major source of nutrient transfer to various parts of the body. Our gut is a host to hundreds of species of bacteria that play a significant role in nutrient absorption and carry out other key functions. Generally, a diverse microbiome in the gut is considered to be a healthy one. The walls of the intestines act as barriers controlling and preventing the entry of microbes and toxins into the blood stream. Unfortunately, any alterations in the intestinal microbiome can result in chronic conditions and other inflammatory conditions such as IBS, celiac disease, leaky gut, and so on. Leaky gut is one of the major health conditions experienced by many individuals suffering from autoimmune conditions. An unhealthy gut can lead to leaky gut, a condition in which holes form in the wall of the gastro-Intestinal tract. Leaky gut can lead to the leakage of toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream resulting in widespread inflammation and a reaction from the immune system. There are many factors contributing to the occurrence of leaky gut even in healthy individuals. To maintain a healthy gut and its microbiome, it is crucial to identify the factors contributing to the leaky gut and inflammatory diseases.
The following are factors affecting our gut health
- Use of Pain killers: It is quite common that most of us use over-the-counter or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for common ailments such as headaches, back pain or body aches. Most of the time, these pain killers make you feel better, but prolonged dependence on pain killers to ease the pain can affect the lining of the gut and cause irritation and heartburn. Generally, these pain killers relieve pain and inflammation by blocking an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase. Cyclo-oxygenase is an important enzyme that protects the lining of the stomach and intestines and carries out the gastrointestinal defense function. Blocking of this enzyme can worsen the intestinal lining and cause intestinal permeability and autoimmune response in the body, eventually leading to autoimmune disease.
- Excessive use of Antibiotics: Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are the most powerful medicines used to destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria that can cause anything from the common cold to the most detrimental diseases in many people. No doubt, antibiotics are highly beneficial in regulating and controlling the spread of infection and saving lives. However, these antibiotics indiscriminately kill even the beneficial gut flora resulting in the imbalance and deprivation of gut bacteria over a period. In healthy individuals, the gut bacteria can recover and reconstitute within six months after the antibiotic treatment, but still lack some of the highly beneficial species. Due to the symbiotic relationship between us and bacteria, frequent use of antibiotics can potentially affect the gut flora resulting in disturbances in metabolism, impairment of immune function and resulting in the development of several autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic diseases.
- High Sugary diet: Eating high sugar content can negatively impact your gut microbiome in the most unexpected ways, by inhibiting the growth of healthy microbes. Simple sugars like fructose and glucose are components that prevent the production of proteins that foster the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Over indulging in a high sugar content diet increases your chances of succumbing to the leaky gut syndrome, heart diseases, obesity, kidney failure, and even cancer.
- Gluten: The foods that we eat have a big impact on the gut microbiome for better or worse. Studies found that gluten found in many kinds of cereal can have some serious effects on our gut microbiome which can further affect our bodies in many ways. Gluten is said to affect the immune system in the gut, the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Gluten binds to the intestines and makes nutrients inactive in the body, causing malabsorption of key nutrients required to carry out bodily functions.
- Alcohol: A glass of wine may or may not be harmful to health. But excessive alcohol can irritate your digestive system, by inducing unusual acid secretion in the stomach leading to gastritis. Studies have also reported that people who consume more alcohol are likely to be more affected by gut inflammatory diseases, leaky gut syndrome, and other related gastrointestinal disorders.
- Nutritional deficient diet: While a nutrient-rich diet helps maintain gut health, a nutrient-deficient diet can contribute to a multitude of health disorders. Having a diet deficient in Vitamin A, D, and zinc has been linked to increased intestinal permeability in many cases. So, it is essential that we eat a balanced diet
- Stress: Chronic stress is one of the major factors contributing to multiple disorders including leaky gut syndrome, acid reflux, and other gut-related issues. Chronic stress can affect the gut-brain axis leading to weakening of the immune system, anxiety, and depression.