Improve your digestion, immunity, and overall well-being by doing a gut check challenge. Read this post to learn more about it.

RELATED: 4 Ways Gut Health Affects Your Heart Health

In this article:

  1. What Is a Gut Check?
  2. Where Is the Microbiome?
  3. What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?
  4. Why Is Gut Check Important?
  5. Who Is the Best Person to Perform the Test?
  6. When Is the Best Time to Perform a Gut Check?
  7. How Can I Improve My Gut Health?

Gut Check: All the Basic Questions You Need to Understand Its Importance

What Is a Gut Check?

Gut check is the process of evaluating the status or condition of your digestive health. It can also refer to a colorectal screening test.

To be more specific, it looks into:

  • The overall health of your microbiome, or the community of viruses, bacteria, and fungi living in your intestines
  • Different strains present in the gut
  • Effects of the gut flora to your health
  • Presence of any gut-related diseases
  • Impact of your gut flora to other vital organs such as the liver

These days, you can perform such tests in many ways. For example, you can opt for microbiome sequencing by purchasing an at-home gut test kit.

This test provides a comparison of how the bacteria and fungi in your gut compare to normal levels. You will also receive recommendations from a microbiome-trained registered nutritionist. These nutritional, lifestyle and supplemental recommendations will help guide you towards rebalancing your gut.

You can also go to your doctor and request for some lab tests to get an idea of what might be going on in the gut. Another option is to start paying more attention to changes in the following:

  • Diet
  • Bowel movements
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Mood
  • Inflammation or pain
  • Level of energy

Where Is the Microbiome?

The microbiome refers to a colony or community of microorganisms living in the body. These can include viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

They currently number in the trillions. Although they are the most abundant in the gut, you can also find them in the skin, mouth, and vagina.

Not all microorganisms are good, but they don’t have to affect your health immediately. The key to excellent gut health is the balance of these species.

What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?

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A discussion about gut check won’t be complete without talking about probiotics and prebiotics.

  • Probiotics — These are microbes that you consume to improve the quantity and diversity of the gut flora.
  • Prebiotics — These are the types of food that help feed the good bacteria and fungi in the gut. 

For the best digestive health, you need both. You may obtain the following as supplements or as foods:

  • Most fermented foods are rich in probiotics, such as lactic acid bacteria. Some examples are kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and kefir.
  • For prebiotics, you can increase your intake of high-fiber food. Some options are psyllium husk, wheat bran, oatmeal, and bananas.

To learn how to incorporate these types of food into your meals, you can read Total Gut Balance. It contains dozens of recipes that are worth trying.

RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Why Is Gut Check Important?

Gut check is essential for a variety of reasons. These include the following:

1. Your Gut Has a Direct Effect on Your Immune System

The relationship between your immune system and the gut is complex but critical. For instance, the microbiome serves as your system’s teacher.

According to a 2018 research, it trains your immune system to recognize friendly and harmful microbes. In fact, such lessons begin as soon as your mom gave birth to you.

2. Gut Health Also Impacts Inflammation

More studies such as this 2019 research show that it’s chronic inflammation that leads to many diseases today. These include cancer, diabetes, and heart disorder.

It is also a risk factor for obesity, which increases your odds for the previously mentioned diseases.

A 2018 study, meanwhile, reveals the connection between your gut and chronic inflammation. One of these is a “leaky gut.”

A leaky gut refers to the increased permeability of the intestinal junction. This junction keeps unnecessary and harmful substances from entering the bloodstream.

When the gaps become bigger or leaky, the toxins, some microorganisms, and food can end up in the blood. It will also trigger the immune system, which will result in inflammation.

3. It May Help Detect Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a serious disease that affects at least 100,000 people each year. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women.

The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer with metastasis is only 14%. When found early, it can be as high as 90%.

4. The Gut Affects Mood

Many studies highlight the connection between mood disorders like depression or anxiety and gut health. One of the reasons is the brain-gut axis through the vagus nerve, which links both vital organs.

Take, for example, the gut’s influence on the production of serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness or a better mood.

While the brain creates it, much of it comes from the digestive system—in fact, 95% of it!

Who Is the Best Person to Perform the Test?

You can already perform at least the initial steps to gut check, especially if you feel the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Changes in bowel movement
  • Changes in poop color
  • Bloating and gas
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Changes in mood
  • Fatigue
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Food allergies and/or intolerances
  • Sudden changes in weight

If you have a testing kit, then you can also perform it yourself. The package includes a container for your sample, which is your stool.

You may also want to work with a gastroenterologist, who specializes in the digestive system. This is especially helpful if:

  • You are at a high risk of colon cancer (e.g., family or previous history).
  • A doctor diagnosed you with a digestive-related disorder such as SIBO.
  • You are 50 years old, which is the ideal age for a colorectal screening test.

When Is the Best Time to Perform a Gut Check?

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You can perform a gut check anytime, but it may be more important in the following situations:

  • You have just taken medications, especially antibiotics. These drugs can significantly alter your microbiome and gut health.
  • The symptoms mentioned above have been going on for more than three days.
  • You are prone to infections.

How Can I Improve My Gut Health?

Doing a super gut check is essential for better well-being, but it’s useless if you don’t further improve your gut health.

Make the most of your newfound information with these tips:

1. Learn More About Your Gut

The book, Total Gut Balance, provides you with rich, deep, but easily understandable information about the mycobiome. It is the brainchild of one of the world’s renowned experts, Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum.

A purchase also includes two bonuses, including a free gut guide. This will help you take the first essential steps to heal your digestive system.

2. Incorporate Healthy Food

For your next meals, remember the following:

  • Add more greens.
  • Don’t be afraid to include herbs and spices.
  • Incorporate apple cider vinegar (ACV) into your diet, such as in salads.
  • Limit or avoid foods that can hurt your gut. These may include refined sugar or gluten, particularly if you have celiac disease.
  • Consume omega-3 fatty acids, like wild-caught salmon to reduce inflammation.
  • Eat healthy fats, such as avocado, but don’t overdo it.

What is celiac disease? It is an autoimmune condition wherein the immune system attacks the small intestine when you consume gluten. It is a protein found in grains such as wheat.

3. Exercise

A study published by the Physiological Society revealed how exercise can improve gut health. It helps improve gut diversity.

In fact, exercise is so important that its impact on microbiome health is independent of diet. This is the finding of a University of Illinois team.

In the human experiment, the researchers worked with obese sedentary and lean adults. They also obtained microbiome samples at different periods.

These participants exercised thrice a week for six weeks. Then they became sedentary for another six weeks.

Despite maintaining their regular diet, both groups experienced an increase of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). In particular, butyrate went up.

Butyrate is an SFCA that helps preserve the lining of the intestines by reducing inflammation. It also provides energy to the body.

When the participants became sedentary, the level of SCFA also went down. This study may also reveal that the gut flora between obese and lean people can be different.

4. Get Some Proper Sleep

Proper sleep makes you healthy and wise for many reasons. A 2019 research explained one of them.

In the study, the researchers established a link between the diversity of the microflora and quality of sleep. It is especially true with total sleep time and efficiency.

It also showed a connection between a cytokine and diversity of microbiome. The cytokine called interleukin-6 can promote low-grade inflammation and increase sleep-deprivation symptoms, according to a 2012 study.

Gut check won’t solve every health woe you have, but it may answer many of your maladies. Take a proactive step today toward improved health by doing it.

What do you think about gut check? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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