Gut health is a fundamental aspect of overall health. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of microbes that play a major role in our overall health. These microbes are known as gut microbiota or “gut flora” and help digest food, synthesize vitamins, and even regulate metabolism and immunity. But what does good gut health look like? And how can you improve your gut health?
There are several ways to improve your gut health:
1. Eat foods rich in fiber
Eating fiber-rich foods is a great way to improve your gut health. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements by absorbing water in the colon, softening stools and making them easier to pass through the intestines. Good sources include beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. High-fiber foods also make you feel full faster, so you’re less likely to overeat.
2. Drink lots of water
Water helps things move through your body, so you’re less prone to constipation, which can cause bloating, gas and abdominal pain, and less prone to kidney stones or urinary tract infections . It also keeps your skin hydrated and maintains a normal body temperature by acting as a transport medium for heat exchange with the environment. Drink eight glasses (about 2 liters) of water each day to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. (Note that this is a general guideline and your actual water needs will vary based on your body weight, activity levels, environment, etc.)
3. Manage your stress levels
Stress can have a big impact on your digestive system because it affects the regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters that control your gastrointestinal function. This can lead to stomach problems such as nausea, bloating and diarrhea. Stress can also increase the risk of developing conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease due to changes in the immune response of the gastrointestinal tract. If you’re feeling stressed, try to take some time for yourself – whether it’s meditating or exercising – so you’re less likely to develop stress-related illnesses.
4. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods such as yogurt contain probiotics—beneficial bacteria that help improve digestion, boost immunity, and prevent disease-causing pathogens from lingering in the digestive tract for too long. You can get probiotics from food sources or from supplements if you don’t like the taste of yogurt or other fermented foods like pickles or sauerkraut. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements because they may interact with medications you are taking or have side effects.
5. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve your gut health. It helps maintain a healthy digestive system and improves your mood. Exercise can also help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. This means you will be less likely to get sick and more likely to fight off viruses or bacteria that enter your body. So the more active you are, the healthier your gut will be.
6. Reduce your sugar intake
Sugar not only contributes to weight gain, but also affects how well you digest your food – especially if you eat a lot of it. Sugar feeds bad bacteria in the gut, which can cause bloating, discomfort and gas. So reducing sugar can help promote good bacterial growth. Sugar can also cause other health problems such as acne or low energy levels due to blood sugar fluctuations caused by consuming too much sugar at once.
7. Avoid processed foods
Avoiding processed foods is one of the best ways to improve your gut health. Most food is processed in some way and this can harm your gut bacteria. This is because processing food takes away many of the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Processed foods also tend to contain additives that can cause inflammation in the body — including artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, gluten and trans fats. Instead, choose whole food sources such as fruits or vegetables whenever possible.
8. Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy gut. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system is weakened and cannot function properly. This can make it harder for your body to fight infections and heal itself after an illness or injury. Sleep deprivation also increases inflammation in the body, which is bad news for anyone who already has problems with inflammation in the gut for another reason. To get the most out of your sleep time, avoid caffeine late in the day and turn off all electronic devices before bed so you can relax.
A healthy gut can improve your quality of life in many ways. It helps your body digest food, absorb nutrients and fight off invaders. The better you take care of your gut, the healthier you will be.