Gut health describes the balance of microorganisms found in the human body’s digestive tract. Although we don’t think of it a lot, the gut is crucial, both for mental and physical health. The equilibrium of microorganisms in our digestive system corresponds to better immunity against diseases and disorders related to the endocrine system.
Back in the day, the digestive system was thought of as a straightforward system with food passing through the intestines and stomach. But with modern medical research and technology, we now have a “deeper” understanding of what’s happening inside our gut.
The term “microbiome” refers to those microorganisms thriving in the intestines. Before you imagine something gross (germs and worms), know that our digestive tract houses at least 300 species of good bacteria. These microorganisms are considered intangibles when it comes to growing and maintaining a healthy body.
The presence of these good bacteria in the stomach not only improves our immune system; it also fights off depression, obesity, and a bevy of illnesses. But like all other systems in the body, the gut needs your attention to remain healthy. You help your digestive system by doing these:
1 – Get some sleep
There’s no such thing as oversleeping as far as your gut is concerned. In contrast, the lack of quality sleep harms your digestive system – it may even lead to severe sleep deprivation issues later. The magic number is “7,” which means you must get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
2 – Learn how to eat slow
Remember those younger days when grandpa always scolded you for not chewing your food thoroughly? Well, there’s a reason why you should heed your old man’s advice. Eating your meals slowly and chewing the food thoroughly promotes full digestion. It also helps your body absorb the nutrients from the food. If you don’t know it yet, the number one cause of digestive discomfort is swallowing huge chunks of food.
3 – Drink lots of water
Your gut loves water more than anything. Staying hydrated isn’t only great for the brain and skin; it also has a positive effect on the mucosal lining of your intestines. It helps promote the balance of good bacteria and is arguably the easiest way to keep the gut healthy.
4 – Avoid stress
Heightened stress levels affect not only your mind but your gut, too. When you’re feeling stressed, it’s common to have an upset stomach. It’s because the stress affects the normal process of digestion and weakens the intestinal barrier. Lowering stress levels doesn’t need any medication. You’ve got a lot of ways to lower it, i.e., spending the weekends with the family, yoga, or meditation, minimize coffee, or even getting a massage does the trick. Anything that promotes calm and relaxation will help.
5 – Consider changing your diet
Your intake of high fat and sugar-filled food is one reason why you have an unhealthy gut. So, improving gut health means reducing the consumption of processed foods since they contain the highest concentrations of saturated fat and sugar. Switch to a more natural and healthier diet comprised of plant-based food and lean protein. Be sure to incorporate high fiber food as it supports your microbiome.
Boosting Your Microbiome
There’s a community of gut microbes in your body, and you want it to be as diverse as possible as it lowers the prospects of allergies and disease. Boosting your microbiome keeps you away from inflammatory diseases, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a Herculean effort to maintain healthy gut flora. Here’s how you should do it:
1 – Eat lots of fiber
We’ve known for a while that fiber intake reduces heart disease and certain cancers. Your personal trainer tells you that it’s the ticket to losing weight. But if you consume at least 35g per day, you’re adding to the list of benefits by boosting your microbiome.
2 – Indulge in fruits and veggies
The variety of fruits and vegetables is as important as the quantity. The best approach is to eat those that are in season. The fiber and nutrient content of every type of fruit and vegetable offers a unique advantage and support to various microbial species.
3 – Regulate Your Alcohol
Drink moderately. You’ve heard this countless times, and it couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to boosting your microbiome. When taken in small quantities, alcohol helps in increasing the diversity of microorganisms in your gut.
4 – Learn about polyphenols and eat food with lots of it
Certain food and drinks contain high levels of polyphenols. If you don’t know what they are, you’re not alone. They’re a type of antioxidants that provide the fuel for microbes or good bacteria in your digestive system. If you read about polyphenols, you’ll realize that they’re found in a handful of food and drinks, including olive oil, berries, coffee, nuts, and tea.
5 – Avoid artificial sweeteners
Although they’re advertised as healthy alternatives to table sugar, artificial sweeteners do nothing good to your digestive system. Stuff like aspartame and sucralose disturb the metabolism of microbes and may even kill some of them. So, if you ingest a lot of these products, you’ll end up reducing gut diversity.
A healthy gut is your ticket to a better you. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to come up with radical measures to get started. With minimal dietary and lifestyle changes, coupled with commitment and discipline, you achieve improved overall health.