6 Signs You May Be Having An Unhealthy Gut
Medical practitioners around the world have been trying to understand the complexity of our gut system for more than two decades now. In fact a lot of their successful studies have revealed links between gut health and our immune system, our moodiness, mental well being, skin conditions and endocrine conditions, among others. Our overall health is just a reflection of our gut health. With our modern day lifestyle, amidst the pandemic while many of us are suffering from high stress, getting little to no sleep, eating processed or cold food, having sugar cravings every now and then, or talking medications, our gut health is bound to get affected, in turn leading to weakened immune system along with our skin, weight, heart etc getting impacted adversely as well.When did you get your last health check up? Do not delay any more. Book a comprehensive test package and get tested at home. Below are 6 common signs that point towards an unhealthy gut: Sugar cravings: The gut bacteria secrete proteins such as leptin and ghrelin, which act as hunger regulating hormones in your body, that are responsible for your food cravings and mood. So when you crave cakes, pastries, chocolates, cookies etc, you actually feed the unhelpful bacteria which in turn secret the proteins that make you want to crave sugary substances even more. In turn they reduce the good bacteria in your gut. You need to fix your gut in order for it to get rid of these bad bacteria that result in such sugar cravings. Bloating, gas or diarrhoea: These are the most common and basic symptoms of gut dysfunction. When the balance of the good and bad bacteria is not appropriate, or you either have deficient stomach acid bowel irregularity and gas tends to occur, the food is not able to break down properly. This might be due to eating fast without chewing properly i.e. gulping down food in haste. In case of diarrhoea, food moves quickly down the gastrointestinal tract, and out of the body in liquid form, and can cause dehydration. Food intolerances: The gut is a gatekeeper that checks in whatever goes inside the body and acts as a passageway for what goes out of the body. When you have a leaky gut, large protein molecules enter the bloodstream. Since these proteins aren’t outside the scope of our gut, our body tends to attack them resulting in food intolerances. Mood swings: When your gut health is tampered with, it will adversely have an impact on your serotonin and dopamine hormones; your happy hormones, as majority of these reside in your gut. Naturally compromising on your gut health will lead to inefficient or null production of these hormones leading to changes in mood and sleep pattern. The inner complex workings of the digestive tract, is not just for food but also for leading your emotions. Weak immunity: There is a well established connection between your leaky gut and immunity. Unhealthy gut leads to inflammation and acts as a hurdle in the proper functioning of the immune system. When your immune system is jeopardized, you tend to fall sick more often as your body fails to work on attacking the viruses or bacteria. Chronic fatigue or sluggishness: One of the major underlying signs associated with an unhealthy gut could be feeling tired, lazy or sleepy all the time that doesn’t fade away in spite of enough rest or sleep. The severity and symptoms vary from person to person; some of the common ones can be difficulty in concentrating or focussing, constant headaches, sore throat, extreme exhaustion after exercising etc. Combination of fatigue and headache can be linked with a leaky gut, which allows partially undigested food, toxins and bugs to pass through the gaps in the gut lining causing inflammation. Lack of vitamin D can add on to this fatigue. How can you improve your gut health? Eat your meals slowly Drink plenty of liquids Cut down on sugary food Alter your diet to avoid food intolerances Eat fibrous, fermented food items Get enough rest and sleep Reduce your tolerance to stress Keep your gut health in check Apart from the natural things we all do for better gut health, clinical testing is always the sure shot way of diagnosing and moving forward with the correct treatment. Here are some tests that can be done to ensure healthy gut and and a healthy body: Functional stool test- for this, you need to send your stool sample to the lab for getting tested, when you want to have the full disclosure of what is happening with your gut. The test check for certain bacteria or fungal overgrowth, parasite infection, nutrient malabsorption that acts as an indicator of leaky gut etc. Lactulose breath test: This test asks you to alter your diet for a day and drink sugar drinks and take breath samples over a period of time to check for any bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine that might cause bloating. Visual inspection: Checking your stool secretion and colour from time to time is the least expensive yet the most effective way to know your gut health better. A healthy gut is responsible for effective digestion, healthy brain, healthy heart, better mood, peaceful sleep, etc. Making certain changes in your lifestyle can have a positive effect on your gut health and ultimately your overall health as well.
Recovered from COVID? Post COVID care and health tests you must take
If you have just recovered from COVID-19, it will be unwise to let your guard down as an ever-increasing number of patients are continuing to experience symptoms after their initial recovery from the disease. COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, is relatively a new disease, with fresh data being collected on a dynamic basis about the course of the disease, especially in terms of patients being declared “cured”. Evidence demonstrates that most individuals after COVID infection do gain sufficient antibodies which can prevent their chances of reinfection. However, it is still inconclusive as to how long this immunity lasts. Various cases have been reported where patients have been re-infected. Hence, post-COVID care becomes more important, especially to those who belong to a high-risk category or are not able to take enough preventive measures to additionally protect their immune system. Guidelines recommending adequate preventive measures such as wearing a face mask, washing hands regularly and practicing social distancing should be strictly followed by such patients who have even recovered from the infection. When is a COVID-19 patient considered “cured” and can resume his normal life? According to CDC, adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset. Most adults with more severe to critical illness or severe immunocompromised likely remain infectious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset. A patient can resume his routine activities while maintaining COVID-appropriate behaviour on the basis of the extent of damage of lungs and other tissues. The recovery period is likely to be longer for patients who suffered from more severe forms of the disease and those with pre-existing illnesses. What are the complications experienced by a post-COVID patient? Recovered patients after acute COVID-19 illness may continue to experience various signs and symptoms including fatigue, body ache, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, etc. Some of the complications seen in patients include deleterious effects on lungs, kidneys, heart, and manifestation of black fungal infection, known as mucormycosis. Therefore, a holistic approach is essential for follow up care and well-being of post-COVID recovering patients. Post-COVID Follow Up Care Nutritious diet Eating a balanced nutritious diet, rich in immune boosting vitamins and minerals including fruits, vegetables, eggs and safe poultry is of utmost importance to speed up recovery Some patients experience unexplained weight loss or weight gain, hence, weight adequate calories must be provided according to the patient’s nutritional status Intake of protein is recommended to be 1.2-1.3 g/kg per day along with the increase in the supplementation of branched-chain amino acids to 50%, in order to prevent muscle loss and enhance the strength of respiratory muscles. Keep yourself hydrated Drink plenty of fluids. Recommendations suggest that drinking warm water can be helpful for patients with scratchy throat or dry cough as it improves circulation and reduces nasal congestion Addition of anti-inflammatory agents like honey or herbs like “mulethi” in kadhas and other concoctions can additionally aid in immunity. Rest, exercise and meditation Your body is still weak and susceptible to infections and complications after COVID-19 infection Taking proper rest and sleep can help your body recover faster Do not overstrain yourself COVID patients are advised to practice breathing exercises to improve respiratory distress and relieve congestion Performing the active cycle of breathing techniques (ACBT) with the help of physiotherapist can help you in clearing sputum from your chest Doctors also recommend patients to not stay in bed all day, and try to sit in a chair for meals and perform activities such as short walks to improve physical strength and function Therapeutic mediums, like yoga and meditation including yoga-asanas, such as pranayama, can improve recovery and help in dealing with stress associated with COVID -19 infection. Advice for patients with respiratory symptoms like pneumonia is to rest for a week or 10 days before resuming exercising while patients suffering from chronic cardiac issues should take a break of 2-3 weeks before restarting their pre-illness exercise regimen. Avoid indulging in deleterious habits Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, as they both are considered as risk factors for COVID infection and are deleterious to the healing efforts of the body. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, as they both are considered as risk factors for COVID infection and are deleterious to the healing efforts of the body. Medications and tests Take regular medications for comorbidities as prescribed by your doctor Patients who had a severe infection or breathing issues are asked to self-monitor their temperature, SPO2 levels, blood pressure and blood sugar at home for the first few weeks after being declared COVID free Various tests suggested for patients recovered from COVID -19 infection are: IgG antibody tests: The IgG antibody tests evaluate antibodies in your blood to ascertain how immune-protected you are. Complete blood count (CBC): CBC tests are performed to assess different types of cells in your blood (RBCs, WBCs, platelets). This test can help your doctor estimate how you have responded to the COVID infection. In addition, the test also acts as a guide about the additional measures that are required for your body post-recovery. Glucose, cholesterol tests: COVID -19 infection is known to cause changes in glucose and blood pressure levels of the patient. It is important to undergo these tests and keep track of blood glucose and cholesterol levels, if you have pre-existing conditions such as type-1 or type-2 diabetes, abnormal cholesterol or are susceptible to cardiac complications. Vitamin D test: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps in your immune function, therefore, its supplementation is vital for faster recovery from COVID infection Chest scans: Majority of patients cured from COVID-19 complain about issues related to lungs. High resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans are advised to diagnose the severity of disease and the residual level of lung involvement caused due to COVID infection. Cardiac screening: Studies have revealed that COVID-19 infection causes widespread inflammation in the body, which further results in injury of heart muscles, leading to complications such as myocarditis, one of the most common problems reported in COVID patients. In nutshell, an average COVID-19 patient usually takes 3 weeks to fully recover; however, new studies have focussed our attention towards those individuals who may have experienced severe effects on their kidney, lungs and heart, even long after they recovered. Therefore, it is not only crucial to adhere to guidelines of wearing masks, hand hygiene and practicing social distancing, these patients are also encouraged to consistently follow abovementioned practices to keep themselves healthy. Taking care of a COVID-positive loved one at home? Check the health of the vital organs with COVID monitoring package.