March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, so we thought it would be a good
time to remind you that, beyond scheduling regular screenings, you also
should keep an eye on your digestive health. Since it can be linked to
a number of ailments and central nervous system disorders as well as colon
cancer, you should start
listening to your gut more closely.
What is Gut Bacteria?
Your gut is filled with bacteria—300 to 500 different types of it.
This bacteria contains nearly two million genes. Add in viruses and fungi,
and you have what’s called microbiota or microbiome. No mix is the
same, and just like your fingerprints, your microbiota is uniquely yours.
So how is this mix created? Your mother’s microbiota, your birth
environment, and your diet and lifestyle all play a role.
How Does it Link to Your Health?
Your amount of gut bacteria is believed to say a ton about your health.
It controls your metabolism and how you process and breakdown certain
foods. Those who live with certain diseases may have more or fewer bacteria
than a healthy person. Specific illnesses can often be linked to your
gut bacteria. For instance, it’s believed that those with rheumatoid
arthritis have higher gut bacteria than those without it.
Some other diseases and ailments thought to be linked to gut health include:
So What Can You Do?
Having a variety of microbiota can lead to better health and possibly reduce
your risk of disease.
Balanced Diet: One way to ensure this is through a steady diet of fiber-rich foods,
fruits and vegetables. This will allow your microbiotas to thrive, while
a diet high in fat and sugar can kill certain types of bacterias, making
them less diverse. Overuse of antibiotics and certain over-the-counter
medications (OTCs) also can mess with your gut bacteria, so talk to your
doctor if you have any concerns.
Regular Exercise: Physical activity also can encourage the growth of gut bacteria.
One of the best ways to ensure your digestive health is in check is by
listening to your body. Pay attention to any sudden changes in bowel movements,
and openly talk to your doctor about them. Routine
colonoscopies and checkups are the best way to ensure your digestive health is never
Constant fatigue, skin irritation, weight changes and an upset stomach
can all be signs your gut health is out of whack. Southwest General Medical
Group, Inc. includes primary and specialty care physicians who can work
closely with you to ensure you get back to optimal health! To learn more
about our services or schedule an appointment,
visit our website.