Ultimate guide to gut health

April 9, 2024

Health Hack

Ultimate guide to gut health

Every day, millions of Americans face digestive challenges, often overlooking them as an inevitable part of daily life—but it doesn't have to be this way. Nurturing a healthy gut isn't just vital for physical wellbeing; it's linked to your mood and life satisfaction too. At ZoomCare, we’re committed to helping you notice and address the subtle signs your gut may be sending you, and to provide you with the care you need along the way.

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The ABCs of gut health

First things first, let's define gut health. It's all about the balance and functionality of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A healthy gut has the ability to process nutrients effectively and boasts a diverse gut microbiome. This microbiome is like a bustling city of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi, all working together to keep you healthy. It helps break down food, produce essential vitamins, regulate metabolism, and bolster your immune function.

An unhealthy gut, on the other hand, can lead to a myriad of problems like digestive issues, a weakened immune response, and even mental health disorders. Read on to explore the most common culprits.

Listen to your gut instincts and watch out for common symptoms

  • Stomach discomfort: frequent gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea
  • Food intolerances: struggle to digest certain foods, not limited to gluten and dairy
  • Unintentional weight fluctuations: may be accompanied by excess sugar cravings
  • Skin irritation: inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne
  • Sleep issues: persistent fatigue or insomnia
  • Mood issues: mood swings, anxiety, and depression

Sound familiar? Here’s how ZoomCare can help

  • Our Primary Care providers are the best place to start the conversation and address all of the symptoms listed above. Your Annual Wellness Exam is a great time to check-up on your gut and chat through any relevant symptoms, pain ratings, changes, and goals. If you are concerned about a specific food allergy, our team can refer you to a specialist for additional testing, as needed.
  • The gut and the mind are intrinsically linked. A Mental Health Visit is a strong option to consider if mood-related issues are interfering with your daily life. Our Mental Health specialists will assess your symptoms and explore how prescription medication might support you on your journey. 
  • It’s not uncommon for gut issues to show up on the skin. Our skin is the largest organ and often an indicator of what’s going on internally. A Dermatology Visit can help you tackle any skin-related symptoms head-on with prescription treatment plans and recommendations. Your provider may recommend a follow-up visit to help determine how your treatment plan is working and to make changes, if needed.
  • For more sudden gastrointestinal upset issues, an Urgent Care Visit is the best path forward. Book ahead or walk into a clinic near you for timely support. 
  • If you are experiencing more severe and debilitating gut pain, an Emergency Care Visit can help you get the care you need to feel better, faster—all at a fraction of the cost of the traditional ER. 

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Your roadmap to a healthier gut at home

Ensuring your gut is healthy is vital for overall well-being. Your diet plays a massive part in this. Consuming fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, aiding digestion, and nutrient absorption. Adding fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi to your gut health diet provides probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support gut health.

Probiotic and prebiotic foods are particularly beneficial. Probiotics, found in foods like yogurt and kefir, help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria. Prebiotics, found in foods like onions and bananas, feed these beneficial bacteria. These are some of the best foods for gut health.

But it's not all about diet. Your lifestyle can also affect your gut health. Chronic stress, insufficient sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact your gut. Regular physical activity, stress management, and adequate sleep can contribute to a healthier gut. It's also crucial to avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, as they can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria.

Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night and incorporating regular physical activity like walking or yoga into your routine can promote a healthy gut. Effective stress management techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can also play a star role. 

Supplementing for a super gut

Probiotic supplements can play a significant role in maintaining a healthy gut. They help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria, disrupted by factors like poor diet, stress, or medication. However, the effects of these gut health supplements can vary, and their quality can differ, so getting an expert opinion is crucial. At ZoomCare, your care team can help explore any supplements you’re currently taking, and recommend new ones to support your digestive system. 

Gut health and medical conditions

Gut health is important in managing certain medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A healthy gut microbiota can relieve symptoms of these disorders. Plus, about 70% of our immune system is in the gut, so keeping it healthy also bolsters immune function. Research suggests that improving gut health can improve overall health outcomes in individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and obesity—conditions all managed at ZoomCare

Not sure where to begin? Bring these conversation starters to your PCP

  • Can a pre/probiotic support my gut journey? And if so, which one is best for me?
  • Is eating on a regular schedule recommended for my overall health and digestion?
  • What role does stress play in gut health, and how can I manage it effectively?
  • Are there any supplements or vitamins that could benefit my gut health?
  • Are there specific foods I should avoid to alleviate digestive issues?
  • Are there any diagnostic tests available to assess the health of my gut?

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