They say you are what you eat and when it comes to health and wellness, food can either make you healthy or make you sick. Though having a little snack or a burger here and there won’t do a lot of harm, consuming foods empty of nutrients and calories on a regular basis can take a toll on your digestive system.
Your gut health is directly responsible for the health of your entire body and mind. It’s where nutrient absorption happens, and if the gut flora is out of balance, so are the other organs. It can trigger inflammation and trigger starvation mode since nutrients are not being absorbed resulting in very slow or stalled weight loss.
However, it can be hard to detect what exactly is happening in the gut unless you do lab tests to find out for sure. There are trillions of bacteria in the gut and the bad ones can cause a variety of issues.
Keep reading to discover 3 essential ways to improve gut health and make your well-being a priority.
Your DNA will also impact your gut health so some people are more prone to unhealthy microbiome.
Why Is Your Gut Health Important?
Your gut, also known as the microbiome, is one of the most important factors for your overall health. Every day, your digestive system works hard to process all the food and drinks you consume, making sure every nutrient is absorbed and transported to all the other organs.
There are about 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut and digestive system. Some of them are necessary for the digestive system to work properly and some can cause problems. The key to optimal gut health is having more good bacteria than bad.
Most gut problems are a result of bad bacteria overgrowth. These include E.coli, Staphylococcus, and H.Pylori, to name a few. There can also be parasites in your gut that can cause severe stomach pain, ulcers, diarrhea, and IBS.
There are a few genes that will support more diversity in the gut which is great if you carry those variants but if you carry the variants that are not as helpful then you may need to be more proactive in supporting your gut health.
I have seen many clients who are struggling with slow weight loss despite following the plan experience much better results after we give their gut more support through diet and some supplements.
Once their gut is able to absorb more nutrients from the food then their body is getting what it needs to lose more weight. Otherwise it will hang on to the weight.
Maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is crucial for your overall health.
How To Improve Gut Health: 3 Ways
Though your gut and digestive system are complex, there are still some simple things you can do to help improve your gut health. For example, whole foods packed with nutrients are rich in dietary fiber that helps the gut digest food better.
Improving your gut health doesn’t happen overnight. As with everything else, the gut also needs time to adjust to a new way of eating and living. But when change happens, you’ll feel it in the way you sleep, wake up in the morning, and go about your day. You’ll feel lighter, more energized, and the bloating and stomach problems will be gone. The scale will start dropping if you are trying to lose weight.
Below are three simple natural ways to improve your gut health.
1. Add Prebiotics and Probiotics To Your Diet
Prebiotics and probiotics are true life savers when it comes to gut problems and restoring balance in the gut flora. This is why you’re recommended to take them when taking antibiotics, to help the gut keep the good bacteria alive.
Probiotics are actually good bacteria, namely Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.These have anti-inflammatory properties and keep the digestive system happy by helping it digest food better, as well as keep the lining of the stomach and intestines healthy and strong.
You can consume prebiotics and probiotics through supplements or through food like kefir, yogurt, bananas, berries, oats, leeks, onion, garlic, artichokes, cocoa and dandelion greens. Any fresh and unprocessed food is good for the gut. As long as you avoid sugar, additives, preservatives, artificial colors, and sodium, your gut will be happy.
2. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Your gut and stress are closely connected in that stress can affect the entire microbiome and cause gut problems like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The first step to improving your digestive health is to reduce both physical and mental stress.
Taking a break when you’re tired, reducing your work overload, and making changes in lifestyle can all help in improving your gut health. The food you eat can also be a source of stress for the gut so avoid fried, sweet, or junk food, as well as alcohol, sodas, and cigarettes.
Stress can also lead to sleep problems, which can be detrimental to the entire body, including the gut. A lack of sleep or low-quality sleep can also lead to weight gain as a result of hormonal imbalance. More specifically, leptin, which is the hormone responsible for regulating hunger and the sensation of feeling full.
Especially try to get into a more relaxed state before eating. Taking a moment before each meal to take 5 deep belly breaths and think about what you are grateful for. This will take less than 1 minute but it will have a powerful impact on your nervous system and set up your gut to be relaxed and ready to digest and absorb all the wonderful food you are about to eat. If you have a practise of saying Grace before meals then just incorporate the deep breathing into this ritual as well.
3. Eat More Gut-Friendly Foods
To help restore balance in the gut, you need to eat more gut-friendly foods. These include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, fermented cottage cheese, miso, and apple cider. Other (non-fermented) gut-friendly foods are celery, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumber, ginger, turmeric, nuts, chia seeds, avocado, fatty fish, olive oil, and beets.
A plant-focused diet like the Mediterranean or Paleo diet is one of the best ways to improve gut health. Eliminating processed food and reducing your consumption of dairy, sugar, gluten and trans fats can help the gut restore balance. At the same time, even if a food item is healthy in general, it may not be good for you.
Take for example mushrooms, eggs, or tomatoes. These are all healthy foods but your digestive system may not tolerate them so it’s best to listen to what your body tells you
Get Started on the Path to a Healthier You!!
Changing your diet and implementing new habits can be challenging but these simple tips will help you improve gut health and give your entire digestive system a fresh start. From learning about your digestive system to knowing what foods are good for you, a healthier you starts with a single step.
Are you ready to get started on the path to a healthier you and would like to have structure and support using a food based approach to lose weight then click here to book a short 15 minute assessment call to see if my approach is right for you?