The importance of gut health to overall health has become the subject of much scientific study. In the digestive tract lies a multitude of “good” bacteria and other microorganisms. Keeping the right balance of these microorganisms is important for physical and mental health, and also, importantly for natural immunity.
This ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, and yeast, is often referred to as the gut microbiome. Signs of an unhealthy gut include heartburn, bloating, fatigue, and autoimmune conditions. To avoid these negative side effects and improve your gut health, here are ten helpful tips:
- Eat more probiotics and fermented foods.
To increase the number of good bacteria, or probiotics, in the gut microbiome, individuals can take supplements. These can be purchased in health food stores, drug stores, and online. But fermented foods are also a good natural source of probiotics.
Some examples of fermented foods that are strong natural sources of natural probiotics include:
- Fermented vegetables
- Eat prebiotic fiber.
Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates, but they are the source food for the healthy bacteria (probiotics) in your gut, and they allow good bacteria to multiply. Individuals who want to encourage the multiplication of this bacteria should include more prebiotic-rich foods in their diet. Examples of such foods are:
- Whole Grains
- Lower your sugar intake.
Eating a diet high in sugar can cause an imbalance of gut microbes, also known as gut dysbiosis. You may be eating more sugar per day than you realize. There are hidden sugars in so many processed foods, like crackers and marinara sauce. Be sure to read the labels! Women should limit their added-sugar intake to 24 grams per day. Men should consume no more than 36 grams per day.
Decreasing stress levels is critical for improving and maintaining gut health. The brain and gut are constantly communicating. It’s why we get butterflies before giving a speech. Stress also weakens the gut barrier, which causes a condition called “leaky gut”.
A variety of stress types that can adversely affect gut health include:
- Lack of sleep
- Stressful surroundings, such as extreme weather conditions or high-noise environments
- Psychological stress
Stress-calming techniques include deep breathing exercises and mediation. Exercising regularly also decreases stress levels.
- Avoid unnecessary medication.
Antibiotics are often a necessary treatment for illness and infection but overuse of these drugs leads to antibiotic resistance and diminished gut health. While research continues to be conducted, scientists believe overuse of antibiotics is leading to a decrease in levels of good bacteria in the gut, for example.
- Exercise regularly.
Regular exercise improves heart health and helps to maintain healthy body-weight levels. It also has a positive impact on gut health, which helps to control obesity. Exercise of at least moderate intensity is recommended for adults weekly.
- Get enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep can improve gut health. Irregular or interrupted sleep patterns can cause hormone levels to fall out of balance and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. Increased stress levels can cause “leaky gut,” a condition where food and toxins pass through the intestine and into the bloodstream, leading to other negative conditions such as bloating, inflammation, and changes to the gut microbiome. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day can help improve and stabilize sleep patterns.
- Cut down on exposure to chemicals.
Exposure to chemicals, such as those found in household cleaning products, candles, and hygiene products, has been shown to disturb gut balance. Trade your toxic products for nontoxic ones– there are so many options available today! .
- Avoid tobacco.
Using tobacco products such as cigarettes can adversely affect gut health. Smokers suffer from conditions like heartburn and peptic ulcers more than nonsmokers. It also increases risk for Crohn’s disease and gallstones. Cutting back or eliminating the use of tobacco products can help improve gut health.
- Eat healthy.
Eating a healthy diet, such as a vegetarian diet, may improve gut health because of the high levels of prebiotic fiber such diets contain.
Improved Overall Health Awaits in Providence, RI
Maintaining a positive balance in the gut microbiome can have a big effect on overall health and energy levels. By making just small adjustments to diet and lifestyle, individuals can strike a positive balance of good and bad bacteria levels in their bodies.
The experts at the BioMed Center New England can show you the best ways to improve this balance and boost the body’s natural immunity and energy levels. Call (401) 443-4007 or book a free one-on-one consultation through our website today to get started on the road to wellness.