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5 Ways Your Digestive Tract Affects Your Overall Health

The term “gut health” has garnered lots of attention for a good reason. The health of your gut influences the health of pretty much every other part of your body. Your skin, brain, sleep cycle, immune system, heart, and more are all affected by the status of your digestive tract and the bacteria throughout it. 

In this blog, Kimberley Shine, MD, an expert in digestion and whole-body health at Shine Health and Wellness, explains five important ways in which your gut — or digestive tract — affects your overall health.

1. Gut health affects your skin

The best way to get glowy skin is from the inside out, that is to say by improving your gut health. Good bacteria in the gut have been linked to reduced acne, improved eczema, the disappearance of rosacea, and other improvements in the skin. On the flip side, a lack of good bacteria — or too much bad bacteria — has been linked to skin conditions, such as psoriasis. 

2. Gut health affects your mood

Research suggests that your diet is largely responsible for your mood. Depending on what you eat, your diet can uplift you, or it can depress you. The connection is so strong that there’s an entire branch of psychology dedicated to it called nutritional psychiatry

The reason diet so significantly impacts your mood is because your diet feeds the bacteria in your digestive tract. Healthy, nutritious foods feed the good bacteria that help your body function optimally, while processed, low-quality foods feed the bad bacteria that disrupt your body. 

3. Gut health affects your sleep

You likely know what life is like when you’re sleep-deprived. You can get cranky, have mood swings, get food cravings, and rely on caffeine to get you through. What you might not know is that your gut health can seriously impact your quality of sleep and your sleep cycle. 

It’s kind of a vicious cycle. Poor gut health can disrupt your sleep, and poor sleep can disrupt your gut health. It can go on and on if one or the other isn’t fixed. So if you eat a good diet, you can help your digestive tract and thus get better sleep.

4. Gut health affects your immune system

Your digestive tract and your immune system interact closely to keep your body in tip-top shape. The two systems regulate and support each other. The majority of your immune cells call your digestive tract home

It’s thought that dysbiosis ― an imbalance of gut bacteria ― can be partly to blame for a person’s risk of developing infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and even some cancers due to the gut’s effect on the immune system. The best way to fend off sickness is to keep your immune system healthy, and the best way to keep your immune system healthy is to eat right to support your gut health.

5. Gut health affects your heart

The health of your digestive tract affects the health of your heart in numerous ways. For example, a lack of gut diversity ― not enough strains of bacteria ― has been linked to high blood pressure. Furthermore, the types of bacteria in your gut could be partially responsible for your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Helping your digestive tract

To feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract and help them grow, you should eat a diverse range of foods. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and stay away from artificial sweeteners and processed foods. Furthermore, you should eat plenty of fermented foods. This would include sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha.

To learn more about how to take care of your gut health, book an appointment online or over the phone with Shine Health and Wellness today.

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