The term “gut health” flies around a lot, but what does it actually mean and why the gut an important part of our health? How do you get a healthy gut and what does your gut affect? These are some of the questions we’ll be answering below along with a few more. So, let’s become gut health experts together…

1. What does gut health mean?

Your gut microbiome is the foundation of your health. Good gut health means having a balance between the good (helpful) and bad (potentially harmful) bacteria and yeast in your digestive system.1

2. Is gut health key to overall health?

Essentially, yes. This is because the health of the gut microbiota (the microorganisms in your gastrointestinal system, or GIT tract for short) exists to support the functionality of:

  • The digestive tract
  • The immune system
  • Endocrine system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Skeletal system
  • The brain
  • And skin

So quite a lot! Two-thirds of the body’s immune system resides in the gut and 95% of the body’s “feel-good” hormone, serotonin, is produced in the gut not the brain as many of us think! Without a healthy gut microbiome, overall health isn’t possible.2

3. Which gut health tips actually work?

There are lots of tips for good gut health out there, but everyone’s gut is different so it’s about finding what works for you. Certain foods and healthy lifestyle habits are the main factors that can improve your gut health naturally, such as:

  • Eating fibre-rich and probiotic-packed foods – think beans, lentils, whole grains, yogurts, tempeh and kefir.3,4
  • Supplements – like turmeric, live friendly bacteria and apple cider vinegar.5
  • Frequent exercise – you’ve heard it before, but exercise is important for your overall health and wellbeing. In terms of your gut health, being more physically active can lead to a healthier gut, support your digestion and even mood!6
  • Limit your alcohol intake – ever had a funny tummy after a heavy night of drinking? Well, you won’t be alone as alcohol can have a negative effect on the healthy bacteria in your gut-microbiome. This can lead to symptoms like bloating, excessive wind and diarrhoea.7
  • Reduce stress levels – sometimes stress can slow down digestion which causes bloating, pain and constipation or diarrhoea.8

4. Which foods improve gut health?

Check out our 18 of the best foods for gut health article! But here’s a quick overview of some of our favourite foods for gut health:

  • Avocado
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Oats
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Garlic
  • Plus, more!

5. What are symptoms of an unhealthy gut?

Symptoms of an unhealthy gut can be quite common, with more people having them than you realise. Signs to look out for9 to determine whether your gut needs some extra love are:

  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn

6. What are the signs of a healthy gut?

The 6 common signs of a healthy gut are:10

  • Regular and pain-free bowel movements
  • Consistent energy
  • Normal amount of gas and bloating
  • Healthy bowel transit time
  • Mental clarity
  • Healthy reactions to food and stress

7. How can I detox my stomach?

The theory behind detoxing your stomach is to try and remove any waste and toxins from your colon.

Here are some tips on how to detox your stomach:11

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat food high in fibre
  • Try drinking honey and lemon water, juices and smoothies or organic and herbal teas
  • Eat ginger or take ginger supplements
  • Add resistant starches to your meals
  • Try intermittent fasting

8. How does gut health affect mental health?

There’s a link between your gut and your brain, which is sometimes known as the mind-gut connection, the brain-gut connection, or the gut-brain axis.

You might find that when you feel anxious or stressed you experience gut symptoms too, like loss of appetite, stomach pain or diarrhoea. Research has also shown that some digestive conditions, such as IBS and coeliac disease, are linked with both anxiety and depression. Watch out for any gut health signs paired together with anxiety or depression and make sure to see your GP so you can take the necessary steps together.12

9. Why can gut health affect your skin?

If you have an unhealthy gut, it can have an impact on your overall health and therefore your skin. This is due to the balance of your gut microbiota needing to be optimal for skin health. So, if your gut health isn’t the best, it can show up in the following skin conditions:

  • Spot breakouts
  • Dry skin
  • Psoriasis
  • Inflammation 
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  • Rosacea

We suggest speaking to a dermatologist or trying to follow ways to help your gut health from above.13

10. Can the heat cause bloating?

Most of us love the summer weather but have you ever noticed that with the heat can come bloating? That’s because when we’re exposed to higher temperatures, the bad bacteria in our gut can expand, hence the bloating.

Here’s some tips on how you can help reduce the bloating in the heat:14

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Keep moving – high temperatures can mean we might tend to stay indoors, but the less we move, our digestive systems often move less too
  • Avoid fizzy drinks
  • Get plenty of sleep – sometimes when it’s really hot it can affect the amount we sleep, which can then cause us to be sleep-deprived and crave processed foods, leading to more bloating

The final say

Hopefully your burning questions on gut health have been answered and you’re now ready to find ways to improve your gut health or keep it in tip top condition. If your gut health is causing you real concern however, we recommend always speaking to your GP to rule out any underlying issues.