We Have the (Healthy) Guts!

Life requires nourishment—nutrients from the food you eat and the liquids you drink. Nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Nutrients are natural chemical substances that all living organisms—massive to micro—must absorb to survive, grow, and reproduce.

What does the digestive system do?

This nourishment process is your digestive system’s primary function. Your digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder; these organs work together to break food down into absorbable nutrients.

Even inside a rumbling, hungry stomach, the digestive system—your gut—is always working to harvest and absorb nutrients from what you feed it:

  • Enzymes in the digestive system get to work breaking down food (chemical digestion) and sorting nutrients from non-nutritious substances.
  • The walls of the small intestine absorb digested nutrients into the bloodstream for filtration through the kidneys.
  • GI hormones also absorb into blood and circulate to other organs—namely, the GI tract and brain.

What is the gut microbiome? Does everyone have one?

Inside your gut, bacteria join trillions of other microorganisms—fungi, viruses, and archaea—as part of your unique gut microbiota: a dense, infinitely diverse population of microorganisms that live in the GI tract. The gut microbiome breaks down and digests food, communicates with your immune system, and even affects behavior and emotion.

What happens when healthy gut bacteria get imbalanced?

A growing body of research points to gut dysbiosis (a persistent imbalance of the gut’s microbiome) in connection with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular and central nervous system disorders.

How do I restore healthy bacteria to the gut?

Gut health depends on the diversity of the microbiota it's working with. Stress, diet, age, medication, and disease can severely alter gut health—but you can’t keep good bacteria down: A healthy gut replenishes healthy bacteria on its own, but with the help of prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods added to your diet, healthy gut bacteria can grow and increase over time. You may benefit by talking with your primary care provider (PCP) about the health of your one-of-a-kind gut microbiome.

Keeping your gut health in check

In general, people who follow a more routine eating schedule, maintain a healthy diet of smaller, more frequent meals, exercise, and get a healthy amount of sleep do well in keeping their digestive system in balance. Annual or bi-annual check-ups are recommended to allow your PCP to monitor your readings, determine your risk of chronic illnesses, and prescribe treatment if needed.

How can Care Coordination help me with healthy digestion?

Your Healthcare Highways Health Plan may cover care coordination services to help qualifying members manage symptoms and care for chronic conditions related to gastrointestinal issues.

If you are a health plan member and would like to learn more about care coordination benefits, call us! Our Customer Experience Advocates team will help you find out if you qualify for this no-cost personalized service and connect you with the care you need. Check your Healthcare Highways Health Plan ID card for your Customer Experience Advocate team's phone number, or reach out onlineWe'll take it from there!"