All About Gut Health

The digestive system contains many microorganisms, including 300 to 500 different types of bacteria. Microorganisms are living things that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These microorganisms include “good bacteria” that help and even are needed to maintain a healthy body. In a healthy person, “good bacteria” can help to:

  • Make the immune system stronger,
  • Improve digestion of food and
  • Protect the body from gut-related illnesses.

“Good bacteria” is usually found together with smaller numbers of possibly harmful bacteria in the gut, without causing any problems in healthy people.

Signs of an Unhealthy Gut  

Factors such as illness, diet or lifestyle change may affect the usual balance of microorganisms in the gut. This may poorly affect a person’s gut health.

Here are possible signs of an unhealthy gut:

1. Upset stomach

Upset stomach   
  • Wind, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn may be caused by problems in the gut to process food well.
  • Difficulties in processing certain types of food may be related to poor quality of bacteria in the gut.


2. Increased cravings for sugary foods

  • Taking processed foods with high amounts of sugar can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut.
  • The imbalance of microorganisms may increase sugar cravings. This can worsen gut health.
  • Studies have shown that taking high amounts of processed sugar is related to increased inflammation in the body. Increased inflammations in the body can lead to serious illnesses.


3. Weight loss or gain without changes to diet or exercise habits

  • An unhealthy gut may reduce the body’s ability to take in nutrients, control sugar levels in the blood and store fat.
  • This may cause weight loss because of a build-up of bacteria in the gut. This may prevent nutrients from being absorbed by the body.
  • This could also cause weight gain because the body stop responding to insulin over time. Weight gain may also be caused by an urge to overeat.


4. Poor sleep or constant tiredness

  • Serotonin, a hormone that affects our mood and sleep is mainly produced in the gut. An unhealthy gut can cause a person to have poor sleep.
  • Poor sleep may lead to constant tiredness if it is not managed.


5. Skin irritation (Eczema)

 Skin irritation   
  • Poor diet or food allergies may lead to inflammation of the gut. Some researchers have suggested this may lead to a “leaky gut”, which has a possible relation to eczema.


6. Autoimmune conditions

 Auto immune   
  • Researchers suggest that an unhealthy gut may increase inflammation in the body.
  • This may be related to the development of autoimmune conditions, where the body’s immune system attack the body by mistake instead of what is causing harm.


Tips to improve your gut health  

What you eat can affect the type of microorganisms in your gut. Reduce eating processed foods and foods high in sugar. You can have a healthy, balanced diet that includes the following types of food to improve your gut health:

  • Food with high amounts of fibre, such as:
    • Fruits (examples: Berries, Bananas)
    • Vegetables (examples: Asparagus, Leeks)
    • Beans and Legumes
    • Whole grains

• Fermented food, such as plain natural yoghurt, kimchi, miso and tempeh.

Here are some other tips for good gut health:

1. Avoid food that you have difficulty digesting

 Food intolerance   
  • Knowing which foods to avoid can help prevent and reduce stomach problems such as cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and acid reflux.
  • Acid reflux a condition where the acid from the stomach goes back up the food tube and throat, causing heartburn and pain.


2. Eat your meals slowly

  • Eating slower and chewing your food properly can help to improve full digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
  • This may also reduce indigestion and improve gut health.


3. Drink plenty of water

 Drink water   
  • Studies have shown that staying hydrated helps the lining of the intestines and the balance of good bacteria in the gut.


4. Manage your stress

  • Consider meditation, walking, getting a massage or spending time with family and friends.


5. Get enough undisturbed sleep

  • Get at least 7 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep per night to maintain gut health.


6. Consider taking a prebiotic or probiotic supplement

  • Prebiotics promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut while probiotics are live good bacteria.
  • Do consult your healthcare providers before taking any supplements if you have any existing health conditions.


If you have any questions about your medicines or wish to get advice on your health condition, you may send us your question here. If you need an advice immediately, please consult a Doctor or call our Pharmacist via our NHGP contact centre at 6355 3000 or NUP contact centre at 6663 6847.


Updated on 10 Feb 2021 

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