That’s how many good (and bad) bacteria are inside your gut microbiome.1
Jack Gilbert, a University of California San Diego professor and microbiome researcher, told AARP that your gut microbiome is like “...a rainforest inside you … It’s incredibly complicated and incredibly connected.”
A clinical study of 4,500 adults, ages 18 to 98, found that one of the links to a longer and healthier life is having a “diverse” gut microbiome.2
Having a diverse gut microbiome means having a gut that consists of different types of microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) that produce thousands of powerful compounds that harmoniously coexist.
A person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial—and even necessary—to a healthy body.3
In this article, we will share with you:
- What the signs are that you have an unhealthy gut?
- What is a healthy gut?
- How to improve gut health in 11 steps
What the signs are that you have an unhealthy gut?
Each year, nearly 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases.4
Gerard Mullin, MD, who is a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins says that as we age, the natural cycles slow down and don’t work as well.
One of your systems that can encounter problems with aging or poor lifestyle choices is your digestive system.
In addition to shifts in stomach acid and gut immunity, the main driver of gut-health change is a shift in gastrointestinal flora (i.e. the complex ecosystem of bacteria in your digestive system).5
Top signs that you have an unhealthy gut include:
1. Upset stomach
Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut.6
2. Feeling tired
People with chronic fatigue may have imbalances in the gut.7
3. Trouble sleeping
The majority of your body’s serotonin, which affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. An unhealthy gut can cause insomnia or poor sleep, which leads to fatigue.8
4. Unintentional weight changes
Gaining or losing weight without making changes to your diet or exercise habits may be a sign of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat.
5. Food intolerances
When you have a food intolerance, it means your digestive system has a hard time digesting (breaking down) food. Symptoms of food intolerance include:
- Stomach pain
- Gas, cramps or bloating
- Irritability or nervousness9
If you suffer from any of these, please talk to a healthcare provider to learn about appropriate courses of action.
What is a healthy gut?
You get your gut microbiome at birth.
During your lifetime, however, the world around you affects what kind of gut microbiome you will have—as do your food and exercise choices.10
A healthy gut microbiome manifests when good gut bacteria multiplies in your gut microbiome so often that the unhealthy bacteria don't have space to grow.
When you have a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, it’s called “equilibrium.”11
A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being.12
How to improve gut health in 11 steps
Improving gut health is easier than you think.
If you need a little nudge though, here are 11 things you can do to improve gut health.
1. Take gut-health supplements
Pendulum does not offer supplements that are indicated for the treatment of the aforementioned signs of an unhealthy gut (i.e. feeling tired; trouble sleeping; unintentional weight changes, etc.).
Pendulum does offer supplements, however, that can improve your gut health.
In partnership with Johns Hopkins University researchers. Pendulum has developed a powerful new probiotic known as GI Repair, which is packed with a butyrate-producing, gut-health-friendly targeted bacteria known as Clostridium butyricum.
GI Repair helps relieve occasional GI discomfort while helping to support regular bowel movements. Furthermore, GI Repair:
- Increases good bacteria
- Contributes to an overall healthy gut microbiome
- Produces butyrate to help healthy bacteria flourish
Pendulum Akkermansia is another gut-health-friendly probiotic that gives your gut microbiome lots of Akkermansia muciniphila—a beneficial bacteria of the gut microbiome that interacts with the gut lining and helps regulate the mucus lining of the gut.
- Akkermansia muciniphila loves to eat mucin, which is the protein contained within the slimy mucus layer of your intestine
- The more mucin that Akkermansia muciniphila eats, the more mucin the epithelial cells of your intestine make
- By making more mucin in response to it being eaten by Akkermansia muciniphila, your intestinal wall is strengthened—which has very good health benefits
2. Eat gut-healthy foods
Diet and lifestyle patterns most heavily influence the variety of bacteria in your gut.13
Dr. Mullin of Johns Hopkins says that Americans’ fiber intake is 40 to 50 percent of what it should be. He adds that a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides the fiber that builds good bacteria and gut health. 14
It goes without saying that getting your nutrients from plant-based foods and lean proteins is more beneficial to your gut health. But, we’ll say it anyway:
Getting your nutrients from plant-based foods and lean proteins is much more beneficial to your gut health!
A gut-microbiome diet consists of fiber from plant foods (e.g. fruits, vegetables, and whole-intact grains). Fiber is a carbohydrate that:
- Does not impact blood glucose
- Passes relatively intact—or undigested—through your stomach, small intestine, colon, and then out of your body.
3. Talk to a Pendulum dietitian
Pendulum's registered dietitians have created several unique meal plans that not only help nourish your gut microbiome, but can also help you manage your blood sugars.
Pendulum Therapeutics’ dietitians also provide personalized Nutrition Coaching Calls.
To learn more about Pendulum’s nutritions services, click here.
4. Eliminate foods that cause food intolerances
Identify—and eliminate—foods that cause the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Fatigue, and
- Acid reflux
A diet that’s high in processed food and added sugar can eliminate the beneficial bacteria in the human gut.
The resulting imbalance can cause increased cravings for sugar, which further damage the gut.15
6. Be wary of emulsifiers
Numerous—but not all—commonly used emulsifiers can directly alter beneficial bacteria in the gut in a negative way.16
Emulsifiers include FDA–approved food additives that help products containing “non-mixing food ingredients” (e.g. water and oil) to combine.
Joseph Murray, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, says, “… strong emulsifiers in processed foods can break up the protective layer of mucus in the intestines where there are lots of good bugs cavorting around.”17
You can find emulsifiers in processed foods like (to name just a few):
- Salad dressings
- Nut butters
- Shelf-stable frostings
- Creamy sauces
- Baked products
Stanford researchers discovered that a 10-week diet high in fermented foods—like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha (a fermented beverage)—boosts gut-microbiome diversity.18
8. Drink polyphenol-rich beverages
Plant compounds called polyphenols found in coffee and black or green tea can increase the number of beneficial bacteria that protect the inner lining of the intestines and that pump out short-chain fatty acids.19
9. Reduce stress
Chronic high levels of stress are hard on your whole body, including your gut.20 A few ways to lower your stress levels include:
- Spending time with friends or family
- Yoga, or
- Having a pet
10. Drink lots of water
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut.21
11. Get enough sleep
Try to prioritize getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
Speak with your doctor, and follow Pendulum on social media
Whichever path you decide to take on your journey to better gut health, be sure to always speak with your doctor first.
Pendulum is always active in the gut-health community, so be sure to follow us on our social media sites: