How Important is Your Gut Health?

| Hillary Rotunda

There are many topics that we can relate to in our lives, but no one will discuss them out loud. Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas and diarrhea are symptoms that we all feel embarrassed to mention. While you may simply accept that you have them or hope they go away, you should listen to your body. Your body could be telling you that your gut health is not what it should be. When you have a healthy gut, these symptoms are less likely to appear. You are also more likely to fight infection and prevent chronic inflammation, which was talked about in our last blog.1

“Bacteria” has gotten a bad rap for being just germs that cause you to get sick. Certain bacteria in your gut can prevent and treat many common diseases. There are hundreds of different kinds of bacteria living in your gut. They line the digestive system to help keep out toxins and are mostly located in the colon and intestines. They are part of what is called your microbiome. Everyone’s microbiome is different, coming partly from your mother, but also from what you eat and your lifestyle.  When this is disrupted, from illness or food for example, your body reacts with vomiting, nausea or bloating.If this becomes a chronic issue, it can turn into conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis.1 We will talk about these conditions more in next week’s blog.  

Remarkably, your gut can affect your mood. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, mood, and pain. About 95% of serotonin receptors are in the gut, therefore, if your gut health is poor, your mood can decrease significantly. If someone is prescribed an antidepressant, this is the reason that the main side effects are nausea, vomiting and GI problems.2

Since diet is one of the main contributing factors to a healthy gut, your nutritional intake is important to consider. It is recommended to avoid the “Western Diet,” consisting of high sugar, ultra-processed and high fat foods which cause disruption to the gut. Many processed foods have additives such as emulsifiers and food dyes that can lead to inflammation and alter the gut’s bacteria.3 The following are a list of foods and other items that deteriorate or improve your gut health:

Harm Your Gut

  • Fried Foods: The oil that soaks into the fried foods can damage the good bacteria in the gut.
  • Red meat: Red meat can activate the growth of bacteria in the gut that can lead to clogged arteries.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics do not differentiate between good and back bacteria, so it ends up killing off both in your gut. They can also show up in some meats that you eat if a farmer treats the animal with antibiotics. Eating organic can help avoid this.
  • Caffeine: Soda, coffee and large amounts of chocolate can lead to overactive intestines, causing diarrhea.4

Promote a Healthy Gut

  • Fiber: This has been proven to help promote good bacteria and reduce inflammation in the gut. Choose whole grain foods such as 100% whole grain breads, oatmeal, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Whole, fresh, unprocessed foods: Choosing these foods will help avoid the unwanted additives that processed foods have. If possible, choose organic options.
  • Probiotics: As talked about in last week’s blog, adding fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha or sauerkraut help reduce the inflammation in your body and promote a healthy gut.2
  • Polyphenols: This is a compound in food that not only fights inflammation and infection, but also promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut. It is often found in foods such as tea, coffee, or red wine.4

No matter how old you are or what your health conditions may be, it is important to be aware of your gut health. Contact one of our health professionals today for assistance in all your wellness goals!

In health,

Hillary Rotunda

Hillary Rotunda, B.A.
LYL Personal Trainer

Hillary grew up being active her whole life. After playing many sports, she settled on volleyball and softball, which she played through college at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. While at Concordia, she earned a double major in exercise science and nutrition. After she moved to the MN twin cities area after college, she earned her certified personal trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine along with a certified strength and conditioning coach through USA weightlifting. She found passion in motivating people to reach their goals by finding a personalized nutrition and exercise plan that worked best for them. She has worked with clients 1-on-1, as well as small group classes. She looks forward to continuing to grow her knowledge base and help people achieve their health and wellness goals through Live Your Life!

In her spare time, Hillary can usually be found at the gym, playing volleyball, or coaching softball. During the summer, she participates in many sand volleyball leagues and tournaments. She enjoys Minnesota summer activities, such as rollerblading, kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming. She loves playing board games with her friends and family and trying any new recipe she can find.


1 “Your Gut Bacteria and Your Health.” WebMD, WebMD, 2020,

2 Uma Naidoo, MD. “Gut Feelings: How Food Affects Your Mood.” Harvard Health Blog, 27 Mar. 2019,

3 Martinez, Kristina B, et al. “Western Diets, Gut Dysbiosis, and Metabolic Diseases: Are They Linked?” Gut Microbes, Taylor & Francis, 4 Mar. 2017,

4“Pictures of the Best and Worst Foods for Gut Health.” WebMD, WebMD, 15 Apr. 2020,

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