9 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH
When we talk about gut health, we are referring to the balance of microbes that reside in our digestive tract but why is that so important to our health?
The simple answer is that microbes and more specifically microbiome have been proven to have huge benefits to improving our health. Benefits include improved immunity, decreased anxiety and symptoms of depression, improved weight loss and more importantly, improved cardiovascular health & fitness.
To maintain our mental and physical health, as well as our immunity, it is important that we improve our gut health and also maintain the balance of these microbes. There are about 100 trillion microbes (yeasts, viruses, and bacteria) residing in our gut. They are known collectively as “gut flora” or “gut microbiome.”
Most microbes make positive contributions to human health. As a matter of fact, some are very essential. Others may cause us harm, especially when they reproduce.
In this blog, we will examine 9 evidence-based ways to boost gut microbiome and enhance your health overall. You can also check out these two amazing products below that have been shown to significantly improve your inner health.
Include probiotics and fermented foods in your diet
Probiotics refer to the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Many people boost these probiotics by taking probiotic supplements.
Probiotic supplements can be purchased online, as well as in drug stores and in stores that sell whole foods.
Studies have shown that taking probiotics can boost the health of our gut microbiome, as well as prevent inflammation of the gut and other GIT disorders.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and regular consumption of the following can improve our gut health:
- Fermented vegetables
Prebiotic fiber is important
Probiotics thrive on prebiotics. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested. With prebiotics, there will be rapid multiplication of beneficial bacteria in our gut.
A 2017 research has shown that prebiotics may improve the tolerance of probiotics to some environmental conditions, such as temperature changes and PH.
People who desire an improvement in their gut health can add more of the following foods to their diet:
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Whole grains
Reduce your intake of sweeteners and sugar
Eating lots of artificial sweeteners and sugar may trigger gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis is a term that describes the imbalance of microbes in the gut.
A 2015 animal-based study suggested that the American diet, which has high fat and sugar content and impacts negatively on the gut microbiome. This, in turn, can affect brain function and behavior.
A second study showed that aspartame, an artificial sweetener, causes an astronomic increase in the number of bacterial strains that contributes to metabolic disease. Metabolic disease is a term that describes a group of conditions that places a person at risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Studies have also shown that the consumption of artificial sweeteners by humans may have negative impacts on the levels of glucose in the blood due to their negative effect on gut flora. This implies that even though an artificial sweetener may not be sugar, it can still increase blood sugar levels.
Effective stress management improves most aspects of human health, gut health included.
Research has shown that psychological stressors actually disrupts the gut flora. According to the study, it doesn’t matter if the stress is short-lived or long-lived.
Many stressors can affect our gut health as humans and these include:
- Poor sleep
- Psychological stress
- Stress from the environment, such as noise, cold, or heat
- Alteration of our circadian rhythm
There are a few stress management techniques that we can employ, including deep breathing, meditation, and muscle relaxation. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating can also minimize stress levels.
Avoid unnecessary intake of antibiotics
I agree that antibiotics help to fight bacterial infections. But then, excessive use of antibiotics can trigger antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics also have negative impacts on immunity and gut microbiota. Studies have shown that the human gut may still be deficient in some species of bacteria 6 months after using antibiotics.
One study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 30% of antibiotic prescriptions done by US doctors are unnecessary. Because of this, the CDC recommends that people discuss alternative treatments with the doctor prior to usage.
Regular exercise is important
Exercising regularly boosts heart health, and contributes to weight maintenance or weight loss. Studies have shown that regular exercise may contribute to good gut health, which, in turn, puts obesity in check.
A regular workout may increase the diversity of bacterial species. According to a 2014 research, athletes had a large variety of gut flora compared to nonathletes. But then, the diet eaten by the athletes was different compared to the control group, which could contribute to the differences in their gut microbiome.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should exercise moderately for at least 150 minutes weekly. This should be backed up by strengthening exercises at least twice weekly.
Get adequate sleep
Getting adequate sleep can improve gut health, cognition, and mood. A 2014 study showed that disturbed sleep or irregular sleep can impact negatively on our gut flora, thus raising the risk of inflammation.
The goal is to improve your sleep habits by getting into bed and waking at the same time daily and getting at least 7 hours each night for adults.
Smoking is harmful. Avoid it
Smoking has negative effects on gut health, lungs, and heart health. It also increases a person’s risk of cancer.
A review of studies conducted in 2018 discovered that smoking disrupts the gut flora by boosting the number of harmful microbes and drastically reducing the levels of good gut flora. These may raise the risk of systemic and intestinal conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease.
Switch to the vegan lifestyle
Research has shown that there’s a great difference between the gut flora of vegetarians and that of meat-eaters. A vegetarian diet is rich in prebiotic fiber which explains why it may boost gut health.
For instance, a study found that obese people who followed a vegetarian diet strictly (eliminating essentially all animal products) for a month, had low levels of gut inflammation. They also recorded weight loss.
A healthy gut boosts immune function and overall health. By making the right dietary and lifestyle changes, humans can take control of the number and diversity of micro-organisms in their gut.
Simple lifestyle changes can include eating a vegetarian diet rich in fiber (or at least some of the time), minimizing one’s use of antibiotics, and taking probiotics. Regular exercise and adequate sleep are among the other changes that a person can make which will have many different benefits to their overall health.
It is important that you get your doctor’s consent before making drastic changes to your diet or exercise program as well as advice from someone specialized in exercise and nutrition.