Habits that Help Ease Your Stomach
Gut health is essential for a healthy lifestyle and those of us with guts that don't always cooperate know that our gut health can have both positive and negative impacts on our day-to-day life. Gut health means that our digestive system is working optimally and a healthy gut is critical for well-being. Below we will explain what gut health is and why it is important to improve our gut health.
What is Gut Health?
Gut health refers to the condition of our entire digestive system and the microorganisms that live within this system. Gut health may also refer to the absence of disease and dysfunction, such as inflammation, diarrhea and cancers.
Many of us know how life-limiting an unhealthy gut can be; symptoms can include bloating, cramping, spasms of pain, constipation, diarrhea and even more severe disease processes. In addition, it's essential to consider that as we age, our digestive processes slow down, which can result in poor gut health. However, improving your gut health is possible if approached thoughtfully.
John Hopkins further explains how gut health works: “The main drivers of gut health change are shifts in stomach acid, gut immunity and flora — the complex ecosystem of bacteria in your digestive system.” So, gut health relies on considering how our diet and lifestyle impact these factors, especially our gut microbiome, and how changes in these factors can cause the signs and symptoms of poor gut health.
John Hopkins suggests five easily adapted habits that can improve your gut health dramatically: eat well, get restful sleep, be physically active, reduce negative stressors and seek professional help for conditions such as anxiety and depression. When considered carefully and adopted as daily habits, most individuals can have a healthier gut.
How to Improve Your Gut Health
Gut Health Supplements
There are many products and supplements dedicated to our gut health. Some of the most common supplements include fiber, probiotics and digestive enzymes. These gut health supplements are designed to ease digestion, keep harmful bacteria in check and promote the health of the gut lining and its actions.
Harvard Health states that fermented foods can be highly beneficial, but you need to choose which fermented foods wisely: “The foods that give your body beneficial probiotics are those fermented using natural processes and containing probiotics. Live cultures are found in not only yogurt and a yogurt-like drink called kefir but also in Korean pickled vegetables called kimchi, sauerkraut and in some pickles. The jars of pickles you can buy off the shelf at the supermarket are sometimes pickled using vinegar and not the natural fermentation process using live organisms, which means they don’t contain probiotics.”
Most grocery stores carry a wide range of fermented foods; look for those made using natural fermentation. Further, check out the many recipes available to create your own nutritious and gut-happy fermented foods, such as kimchi!
Include These Everyday Foods Into Your Diet
A healthy gut needs sound nutrition making it important to include fruits, vegetables and nuts in your diet. Fermented foods such as kimchi and pickled sauerkraut are great choices. Be sure to include yogurt, kefir and delicious miso in your diet!
Prebiotic fiber is a must, our bodies do not digest prebiotic fiber, instead, they serve to feed the good bacteria we need to maintain a healthy gut. Examples of prebiotic fiber include dandelion greens, chicory root and garlic. Onions, bananas, apples and whole oats are other easy, affordable choices to add prebiotic fiber to your day.
Whole grains are another example of an easy, inexpensive method of adding delicious, nutritious foods to your gut and keeping it happy! Hyperbiotics explains: “You see, whole grains are loaded with prebiotics which are indigestible fibers that support the growth of the good bacteria within your microbiome. While they may not be digestible to you, they’re a great snack for the tiny bacteria caring for you day in and day out.”
Avoid These Everyday Foods in Your Diet
Not surprisingly, foods that are not great for our overall health are not great for our gut health either. The types of food that dramatically alter our gut are refined sugars, saturated fats, factory-raised meats, fried foods and artificial sweeteners. US News recently reported on foods to avoid so you maintain a healthy gut: “Inflammatory foods, which include ultra-processed snack foods, red meats and sugar-sweetened beverages, can cause imbalances in the gut microbiome that increase inflammation throughout the body. That inflammation can then elevate the risk for certain diseases, such as heart disease, or exacerbate inflammatory conditions like asthma and diabetes.”
A healthier gut is possible! Even better, by adopting the above practices, you may avoid the need for over-the-counter and prescription drugs to manage your gut symptoms. Plus, it's the perfect opportunity to improve your overall health too!