You are what you eat is a common saying that we all have heard at least once. More than a saying it is a fact. Whatever you put inside your mouth., determines your overall health, thereby making your gut a crucial component when it comes to your well-being. But what exactly is a gut? It is a misconception that gut refers to your stomach. Your gut starts right with your mouth and ends at the rectum. Basically, your GIT (gastrointestinal tract) is collectively called a gut. So for you to remain healthy, it is important that your gut is in sound condition.
Multiple factors affect our gut health. From the most basic thing such as eating to the ones many don’t consider - stress, sleep and medications affect our gut. So how do you determine if your gut is healthy or not? This blog is all about that. Continue reading ahead to decode the 5 signs of a healthy gut
How to know if your gut is healthy
Lookout for these signs that indicates a healthy gut.
Five signs of a healthy gut
The most common signs of a healthy gut are as follows:
1. The frequency of your bowel movement
Although a waste material, your faeces are an important indicator of your gut health. The frequency with which you defecate is a great indicator. While the frequency largely varies from person to person, it’s a good old thumb rule to note down the “three and three rule”. Ideally, a healthy pattern for bowel movements falls within a range commonly referred to as the "three and three" rule. This means that it is generally healthy to have bowel movements between three times a day and three times a week.
However, it's important to note that individual variations exist, and what is considered normal can differ from person to person. Another aspect to consider is the timing of bowel movements. Generally, it is preferable to have bowel movements during the day rather than at night. If you find yourself frequently needing to get up during the night to have a bowel movement, it could be an indication that something may be amiss. In such cases, it is advisable to consult with your doctor to rule out any underlying health concerns.
Ultimately, paying attention to your body and establishing a regular rhythm, of bowel movements is the healthiest.
2. The gastric transit time
Simply put, your gastric transit time is the time taken by food to move through the gut and get digested. Maintaining a balanced gut transit time is crucial, as both excessively short and excessively long transit times can be indicative of underlying issues. Research suggests that there is considerable variation in transit time among individuals, with an average time of approximately 28 hours.
But again, as each person’s body is different, it's important to note, your different transit time might be normal to you if you are not facing any other health issues. Certain medical conditions or medications may also impact transit time.
Monitoring your gut transit time can provide insights into your digestive well-being. If you notice any abnormalities from your usual transit time, it is a good idea to consult your doctor for further findings.
3. The way your stool looks
It’s time that you look back! Jokes aside, healthy practice and a way to listen to your body are by seeing your pee and poop’s physical characteristics. In a healthy gut, stools should be medium to dark brown. Any variations from this, like green, black, red, or yellow (excluding coloured foods), may indicate a gut issue.
Here is what a healthy stool should look like:
- Smooth texture
- Soft to firm sausage-shaped stools passed in one or a few pieces.
- Stool sinking in the toilet bowl.
Unhealthy stool characteristics include:
- Hard, lumpy consistency resembling small solid 'nuggets,' indicating constipation.
- Very soft or liquid consistency, indicating diarrhoea.
- Floating stools suggest undigested fat.
4. Painless passing of stools
If your gut is healthy, your stools are healthy and if everything’s normal, you should be able to defecate without any pain or discomfort.
Please note if you are frequently constipated and have to push harder, you might be at risk of developing fissures which can further lead to more health problems. Being able to poop comfortably is a sign of a healthy gut.
Frequently not being able to pass stools comfortably may be an indicator of an underlying disease.
5. Being bloated and gassy
Did you know that your gut is home to trillions of microbes? These microbes are often referred to as the “Gut microbiome”. Your gut microbiome is beyond crucial and dramatically influences your entire health. Gas is a byproduct of those microbes. Flatulence (farting) is healthy and normal. An average human with a healthy gut can pass gas around 20 times a day.
Restricted gas can lead to bloating, which negatively influences your health. If you have frequent bloating, take it as a sign and consult a doctor.
Food to eat for good gut health
Of course, we know the drill, fatty, fried and junk food won’t do any good to your gut! But then among all the healthy options, which ones are really the best to promote good gut health? The following foods are your gut’s best friend:
- Fibre-rich foods: Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of fibre. They maintain regular bowel movements and support beneficial gut bacteria.
- Fermented foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha contain probiotics that improve digestion and gut health.
- Prebiotic foods: Onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and artichokes are rich in prebiotics, which nourishes beneficial gut bacteria.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts reduce gut inflammation and promote overall gut health.
- Bone broth: Collagen and amino acids in bone broth support gut health and repair the intestinal lining.
- Ginger and turmeric: These spices have anti-inflammatory properties and soothe the gut. Use them in cooking or enjoy them as herbal teas.
Since everyone's gut microbiome is unique, listen to your body and make personalized dietary choices. Consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice regarding specific gut health concerns.
Balanced Mood and Mental Well-being
Your gut is greatly affected by your emotional well-being and vice-versa. An upset stomach is not surely a mood-lifter. The gut microbiome produces neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and emotions. Imbalances in the gut microbiota, called dysbiosis, are linked to anxiety, depression, and autism spectrum disorder.
The gut microbiota affects neurotransmitter production, particularly serotonin, which impacts mood and mental health. Dysbiosis can disrupt serotonin production and affect mental well-being.
To maintain mental well-being, it's important to care for gut health. A healthy diet with fibre-rich foods, prebiotics, and probiotics promotes a balanced gut microbiota.
Digestive Comfort and Regularity
As mentioned earlier, gastric transit and the frequency at which you empty your stomach is the greatest indicator. When you take care of your gut, you won't be facing any digestive issues such as bloating or constipation. With little steps, you will be able to achieve regularity and digestive comfort
Healthy Weight Management
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for keeping the gut in good shape. Obesity and excess weight can alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, increasing the risk of chronic diseases and digestive problems. Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet with a focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and fibre-rich grains is crucial for promoting a healthy gut. Regular exercise is also essential because it promotes weight management, supports the gut microbiome, and aids in digestion regulation.
Get Enough Sleep
For a healthy gut, sleep is essential. Research demonstrates that gut health and sleep are closely related. The body goes through restorative processes while sleeping that is advantageous to the digestive system.
The gut microbiota is disturbed by sleep deprivation, which can result in imbalances and a higher risk of gastrointestinal disorders.
Lack of sleep has an impact on the gut-brain axis, which connects the gut and the brain. Gastrointestinal problems, mood disorders, and diminished cognitive function can all result from disruptions in this communication.
The body's inflammatory response lessens while you sleep, enabling the repair of the gut lining. Getting enough sleep reduces gut inflammation and guards against inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
So maybe it is about time you start sleeping for eight hours and give your body the rest it needs.
Your gut is more than the digestion of food. It determines your overall health. A healthy gut = a healthy you! There are many ways in which you can look out for if your gut health is sound or not, all of it which are mentioned above. A healthy diet, regular sleep and exercise go a long way in maintaining your gut health. If you are experiencing frequent gut disorders and the indicators are a bit confusing, the best way to assess your gut health at a deeper and more precise level is to take a gut microbiome test. The Decode Biome test is one such test that collects your stool sample and gives you a piece of detailed information about your gut health. From which microbe resides in your to which foods are suitable for your gut, the Decode Biome test has got you covered! Read more about it hereSure! Here's the information formatted in HTML:
What are the signs of a healthy gut?
Signs of a healthy gut include regular bowel movements, minimal bloating or gas, strong immune function, and overall good digestion.
How can I tell if my gut is healthy?
You can tell if your gut is healthy by observing indicators such as consistent bowel movements, absence of digestive discomfort, balanced mood, painless passing of stools, strong immune system, and healthy skin.
What are the key indicators to assess gut health?
Key indicators to assess gut health include bowel regularity, absence of gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating or diarrhea, healthy immune function, mental well-being, and the condition of the skin.
What role does digestion play in determining gut health?
Digestion plays a crucial role in determining gut health. Proper digestion ensures the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, supports a diverse and balanced gut microbiota, and helps maintain the integrity of the gut lining.
Are there any recommended steps or actions to improve gut health based on these indicators?
Yes, there are steps to improve gut health. They include consuming a diverse and fiber-rich diet, staying hydrated, managing stress, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, avoiding excessive use of antibiotics, and considering probiotic or prebiotic supplements. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.