Gastrointestinal diseases affect a vast number of people worldwide. Ideally, all parts of the gastrointestinal tract – the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines – should function properly. Thanks to this optimally functioning system, we can digest and process food without experiencing any discomfort. The intestines absorb nutrients from the food we eat while eliminating waste products. They also perform many other important functions, such as protecting our bodies from harmful substances and helping us maintain a balance of beneficial bacteria.
The health of the intestines literally impacts every part of the human body. The gastrointestinal system is the main “portal” for receiving and processing nutrients. It serves as a communication center and a defender against disease-causing bacteria entering the body. From the functions of the nervous and immune systems to mental health and digestion, healthy intestines play a crucial role in the overall well-being of the human body.
The microbiome contains both good and bad bacteria known as gut flora. Good bacteria feed on fiber, including soluble and insoluble fiber obtained from our diet. Bad bacteria feed on elements made of simple sugars and processed foods. Our body has an important symbiotic relationship with our microbiome: it takes in all these microorganisms, digests them, and then produces other compounds that it can use. Some of these bacteria are harmful to our body, while others are beneficial. Good health lies in maintaining their balance.
The Health of the Gastrointestinal Tract and Overall Well-Being
Gastrointestinal diseases affect a vast number of people worldwide. They range from gallstones and irritable bowel syndrome to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Problems related to the intestines can indicate symptoms beyond the gastrointestinal tract. Signs may manifest as:
- Chronic pain
- Mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety)
- Weight loss
- Inflammatory conditions
- Fatigue or lethargy
The health of the intestines can help predict diseases, provide protection, and offer possible treatment. Research shows that gut health also influences and even improves conditions in various diseases such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
The gut balance has a clear effect on the brain. Over 90% of serotonin – the hormone that makes us feel happy – is produced in the intestines. Uncontrolled appetite and a desire for excessive eating often stem from this connection. Psychological stress can also negatively affect gut health, causing inflammation in the body and serving as a foundation for emotional eating.
Since the intestines have such a strong connection with so many other elements of our well-being, it is important to keep them healthy.
How to Improve Gut Health?
To balance your gut flora and build a healthier microbiome, follow these simple steps:
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Besides providing a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, they are also a good source of fiber – the primary fuel for beneficial bacteria. Aim for at least three large servings of vegetables a day.
- Include nuts, seeds, and legumes in your diet. Examples include cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, black beans, and lentils. They are all excellent sources of both fiber and protein.
- Consume whole grains. They provide another great source of dietary fiber. Consume a variety of whole grains, including barley, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and cereals.
- Eat both prebiotic and probiotic foods that help increase the population and diversity of good bacteria in the intestines. They can help reduce gut inflammation and stimulate the body’s natural immune system.
- Prebiotics: Almonds, apples, bananas, broccoli, flaxseed, garlic, onions
- Probiotics: Fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt
- Floten® is an exceptional synbiotic that offers multiple benefits for the human body. This powerful product includes 10 beneficial bacterial strains that play a key role in restoring gut flora and balancing the functions of the gastrointestinal tract. With high bioavailability and a special technology for obtaining the synbiotic complex, Floten® ensures optimal absorption of the product, providing essential microorganisms and prebiotics that support the health of the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system.
- Take supplements. If you don’t consume enough prebiotic and probiotic foods, consider taking dietary supplements to maintain the health of your intestines.
- Limit antibiotics. Avoid taking antibiotics unless necessary, such as for common colds. Why? Antibiotics can destroy both bad and good bacteria in the intestines.
Small changes in our diet can have positive effects in the future. Analyze your daily menu – you can keep a food diary and make all the necessary corrections to optimize the health of your digestive system.
What Do Gastrointestinal Diseases Entail?
GERD, diarrhea, and colorectal cancer are examples of gastrointestinal diseases. They are divided into two types of digestive disorders: functional and structural. Upon examination, some diseases show no changes in the gastrointestinal tract, despite the body registering their symptoms. Other diseases indicate both symptoms and visible irregularities in the gastrointestinal tract upon examination. The good news is that most gastrointestinal diseases can be prevented and/or treated. Gastrointestinal diseases affect the entire gastrointestinal tract. Some of the characteristic symptoms of most digestive disorders include nausea/vomiting, food poisoning, lactose intolerance, and diarrhea.
What Are Functional Gastrointestinal Diseases?
Functional gastrointestinal diseases are those where the gastrointestinal tract appears normal upon examination but does not function correctly. These are the most common problems affecting the gastrointestinal tract (including the large intestine and rectum). Examples of such diseases include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, food poisoning, gas, bloating, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and diarrhea.
Many factors can disrupt your gastrointestinal tract and its mobility, including:
- Following a low-fiber diet.
- A sedentary lifestyle and lack of sufficient exercise.
- Travel or other changes in routine.
- Consuming large amounts of dairy products.
- Overuse of anti-diarrheal medications, which over time weaken the muscle movements of the intestines called motility.
- Taking antacids containing calcium or aluminum.
- Taking certain medications (especially antidepressants, iron-containing pills, and strong pain relievers).
What Are Structural Gastrointestinal Diseases?
Structural gastrointestinal diseases are those where the intestines appear unusual upon examination and do not function correctly. Sometimes, the structural abnormality needs to be surgically removed. Examples of structural gastrointestinal diseases include stenosis, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, colon polyps, colorectal cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.