Gut Health

8 Life-Changing Things That Happen When You Boost Your Gut Health

Hint: glowing skin, improved metabolism and mood, and better energy are just a few!

By: Lexy Parsons

Trending on social media, in research, and just about everywhere in the wellness world, there’s a lot of talk about gut health. From probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods, to the gut-brain connection and plant-forward diets, there’s no doubt that gut health is an integral part of our overall health. And as more and more research comes to light, it becomes increasingly evident that boosting your gut health can lead to a myriad of life-changing benefits. Ahead, learn what happens when you boost your gut health, key signs that may indicate a need for support, and simple gut-healthy tips to implement into your routine!

Signs You Need to Support Your Gut Health

If you’re unsure whether your gut health needs support, paying attention to certain signs can provide valuable insight. Here are a few signs you should look out for:

  • Irregular bowel movements 
  • Persistent digestive discomfort, such as bloating and gas
  • Mood swings, including irritability, depression, and anxiety
  • Feelings of lethargy or fatigue 
  • Chronic stress 
  • Brain fog
  • Increased sugar cravings and food intolerances
  • Changes in weight 
  • Increased allergies and weakened immune 
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • Acne, breakouts, and skin irritations

8 Surprising Things That Happen When You Boost Your Gut Health

Reduced Anxiety

Thanks to the intricate connection between the gut and the brain, reduced anxiety is one of the many beneficial things that can happen when you optimize your gut health. Studies suggest that a balanced and diverse gut microbiota can positively influence the production and regulation of serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in mood regulation. Plus, recent data suggests that specific probiotic strains — such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium — may even regulate stress and reduce anxiety.

Better Mood

There’s a direct link between our gut and brain, known as the gut-brain axis. This bi-directional pathway enables communication between the gut and the central nervous system, influencing various aspects of our well-being, including mood. Recent research has shown that maintaining a balanced gut microbiome is associated with a reduction in inflammation, a key factor linked to mood disorders such as depression. There’s also evidence to suggest that our gut microbiome is connected to the generation of short-chain fatty acids, metabolites formed in the colon through the bacterial fermentation of dietary fibers and resistant starch. Based on research, these short-chain fatty acids not only contribute to improved gut health but also mood regulation, brain health, and mental well-being.

Improved Skin Health

The state of our internal health is often reflected through our skin, and we see this through the gut-skin axis — another bi-directional communication pathway. Research suggests that an imbalanced gut can contribute to inflammation, a key factor in various skin conditions, including acne and eczema. However, the good news is that individuals with a well-balanced and diverse gut microbiome tend to have healthier skin, with data showing significant improvement in skin conditions due to the consumption of probiotic and prebiotic supplements and gut-healthy foods

RELATED: 30-Day Glowing Skin Challenge

Enhanced Hormone Balance

Our gut plays an important role in hormone balance, particularly estrogen regulation. In fact, poor gut health increases the risk of hormone imbalances such as PCOS, and endometriosis. When we optimize gut health, however, there’s a clear improvement in the production, metabolism, and regulation of hormones, showcasing the importance of simply boosting our gut health!

Improved Sleep & Energy

Because our gut microbiota contributes to the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin, boosting our gut health is essential for regulating sleep. It helps synchronize our circadian rhythm, not only helping to promote restful sleep, but also a balanced nervous system (which inherently supports energy levels!). Reduced inflammation is another life-changing thing that can happen as a result of a balanced gut, as it helps to improve nutrient absorption and, in turn, boost energy, helping to supply our body with the sustenance it needs to power through the day.

Enhanced Mental Clarity 

Brain fog, forgetfulness, and poor concentration are among the many symptoms associated with poor gut health. However, there’s strong evidence to suggest that a well-nourished and balanced gut microbiome positively influences cognitive function, which makes sense, considering most neurotransmitters are produced in the gut! Further research shows that intake of probiotics (both through supplements and probiotic-rich foods) may help to regulate the HPA axis and promote hippocampal functioning, the area in our brain related to memory and learning.

Stronger Immune System

Home to a significant portion of immune cells (about 70-80%), our gut plays a vital role in shaping our body’s immune response and overall health. This connection between the gut and the immune system — which is strengthened by beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus — is crucial for defending against pathogens, regulating inflammation, and maintaining immune balance. In fact, as our gut health improves, we start to see a reduced incidence of allergies and chronic disease. 

Improved Digestion & Weight Management

Improved digestion and weight loss support are two incredible benefits that result from improved gut health. A healthy gut microbiome aids in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food, promoting smoother digestion and reducing gastrointestinal discomfort. Additionally, certain beneficial bacteria produce enzymes that help break down complex carbohydrates and fibers, making nutrients more accessible to the body. And the good news is that as your digestion improves, your metabolic function will likely benefit, too. This can contribute to reduced inflammation, improved metabolism, and better weight management — a win-win! 

5 Tips to Support Your Gut Health 

#1 Diversify Your Diet

Research shows that a diverse, nutrient-rich diet leads to a diverse, robust microbiome. Incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich plant foods, and fermented foods not only helps to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, but also helps to ensure you’re getting a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

#2 Enjoy More Probiotic-Rich Foods

Probiotic-rich foods (such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kombucha) into your diet can help support a healthy microbiome by introducing diverse strains of probiotics to your gut. These beneficial bacteria help to maintain a balanced microbiome, support digestion, and enhance immune function. Whether it’s enjoying a probiotic-rich yogurt bowl for breakfast or sprinkling kimchi into your lunch salad, aim for a daily serving of probiotic-rich foods! And don’t be afraid to try something new — different types of probiotic-rich foods offer different strains of bacteria, helping to contribute to a more diverse microbiome!

RELATED: The 5 Healthiest Probiotic-Rich Foods For Gut Health 

#3 Load Up On Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut, helping them thrive and multiply! Including plenty of prebiotic-rich foods — such as garlic, onions, asparagus, apples, and oats — can help nourish and maximize the benefits of probiotics and promote overall gut health.

RELATED: Probiotics VS. Prebiotics: Which is Better For Gut Health?

#4 Limit Artificial Sweeteners

While artificial sweeteners may seem like a healthy, low-calorie alternative to sugar, they can have adverse effects on your gut health. Research suggests that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose may disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to dysbiosis and other gastrointestinal issues. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners like dates, fruit, or raw honey, natural sweeteners that are rich in gut-supporting nutrients like fiber, enzymes, and minerals!

#5 Manage Stress

Linked through the gut-brain axis, stress can take a toll on your gut health. When chronic, stress can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your digestive system, trigger inflammation, and compromise the integrity of the gut lining. However, research has shown that managing stress can positively influence gut health, highlighting the importance of adopting regular stress-reducing practices. Whether it’s meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or simply spending time in nature, find what feels best for you and aim to incorporate stress-reducing practices into your daily routine!

Optimize Gut Health For Overall Health

Ready to change your life and improve your health? The answer may be as simple as nourishing your gut! By recognizing signs of a not-so-healthy gut and implementing practical tips to support your microbiome, you can nourish your body from the inside out. From glowing skin and reduced stress to improved energy and digestion, the life-changing benefits that result from a healthy gut speak for themselves!