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You might have noticed everyone is talking about gut health and wondered what the excitement was about.

Here’s the deal: Gut health is a term that refers to how healthy your stomach, and small and large intestines are. A person with a healthy gut can eat a wide variety of foods without heartburn or bloating. They are able to absorb nearly all nutrients consumed, and have lots of beneficial bacteria in their body, allowing everything to run smoothly.

An individual with poor gut health may experience bloating, stomach pain, and difficulty absorbing nutrients. They tend to have a worse mood, handle stress poorly, and have trouble sleeping. They may experience chronic hunger or have trouble recovering from exercise.

Together, these factors are more likely to set you up to gain fat than to lose it because of the following effects:

Increased appetite: When your gut isn’t working right, nutrient absorption is impaired due to the bacterial composition in your GI tract. With poor absorption, your body wonders where all the nutrients are hiding, triggering a desire to eat more.

Chronic hunger: If you feel like a bottomless pit and can never get full, it’s possible that gut inflammation is interfering with activity of the hormone leptin, which helps regulate calorie expenditure and signals your brain that you are full.

Low mood: Feeling depressed is the opposite of what you want when trying to lose body fat. Changing your body is not easy. You want your mental resources to be at their peak in order to keep you motivated and on point. The gut plays a major role in mental health because more than 50 percent of the neurotransmitters that regulate mood are made in the GI tract.

Increased calorie absorption: Certain strains of gut bacteria increase the absorption of carbohydrates and fat, raising the number of calories your body takes in, which is the opposite of what needs to occur when trying to lose fat.

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