Your Gut Microbiome 

Your gut microbiome is populated by trillions of microscopic organisms that include thousands of species of bacteria, as well as viruses, fungi, and parasites. That may sound scary and unhealthy, but your microbiome needs both good and bad bacteria to be balanced and function correctly. 

80% of your immune system is in your gut, which means that if your gut isn’t healthy, then your immune system and hormones won’t function, and you’ll get sick. Your gut also gets rid of toxins and metabolic waste, but if your gut is not healthy, those toxins will stay in your body. To add even more importance to gut health, your gut and brain are closely linked, so if you’re struggling with gut health, chances are your brain is struggling, as well. 

There are many factors that influence gut health. Medical conditions, environmental elements, and lifestyle choices can affect how your gut functions. However, no matter how poor your gut health is, you can always make some adjustments to get it back in proper working order. 

Medical Conditions that Affect Gut Health 

While there are medical conditions that negatively impact gut health, it’s uncertain whether the conditions are chronic or hereditary or if they are actually caused by poor gut health. Typically, gastrointestinal (GI) diseases are harmful to the gut and cause many health-related issues for those who have them. Some common GI conditions include: 

Crohn’s Disease: More than half a million Americans suffer from this digestive condition that falls under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is thought to be an autoimmune reaction, and genetics may play a part. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever. 

Ulcerative Colitis: Also part of the IBD category, ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in your digestive tract. It affects the innermost lining of your large intestine and can lead to life-threatening complications. 

While there are more medical conditions that negatively affect gut health, it’s also important to look at other factors that may contribute to these medical conditions. 

Environmental Factors Impacting Gut Health 

You may not think about it, but the environment in which you live has a drastic effect on your gut health. In fact, spending time in nature may have a positive impact on your gut health, while spending time in a mostly urban environment may negatively alter your gut health. 

A few recent studies have shown that direct exposure to nature, such as living in a rural area or suburb with more diverse yard vegetation, is associated with a healthier gut microbiome. Microbial diversity, a collection of different bacteria, is thought to be important for gut health, and living in more rural, natural settings allows for this. 

Air quality is also being looked at as a factor in gut health. Poor air quality has been linked to gastrointestinal conditions, although more direct research needs to be conducted. 

Considering your environment may not seem like the most obvious place to start when contemplating your gut health, but it may be an important factor to think about. However, lifestyle choices are probably the more predominant factors negatively affecting gut health. 

Lifestyle Choices Guiding Gut Health 

You may not be able to control your genes or even where you have to live, but lifestyle choices that negatively attack gut health can be controlled. Elements that you can control to get your gut health in check include: 

Drinking Too Much Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can kill off good bacteria in the gut and cause GI problems. One type of alcohol, red wine, when consumed in moderation, can have a protective effect on certain gut bacteria, though.

Lack of Physical Activity: Recent studies suggest that physical activity may alter and improve gut health. Higher fitness levels have been associated with a greater abundance of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that’s important for overall health, and butyrate-producing bacteria. 

Smoking: Cigarette smoking is also one of the most important environmental risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease, a disease characterized by ongoing inflammation of the digestive tract. Smokers are twice as likely to have Crohn’s disease, a common type of inflammatory bowel disease, compared to non-smokers. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is imperative to maintaining a healthy gut. The lifestyle factors mentioned here all affect your genes in a negative way, ultimately leading to poor gut health. 

The Genetic Link to Gut Health 

What you do and don’t do over time will affect your genetic makeup. Smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy processed foods, and not being active, among other lifestyle choices, negatively impact your genes and how your body functions. The link to gut health isn’t hard to make — optimal gut health starts in your genes. 

One way to test your gut health, along with how your genes are functioning, is through the 10X Health Precision Genetic Test. The simple at-home test will analyze how your body is currently functioning, including gut health, and provide recommendations and advice on how it could function better. 

If you’ve ever been curious about what’s happening in your body and desired a roadmap to explain exactly how to get your body to its optimal wellness, the Precision Genetic Test is your answer. Order yours today

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