You already know it’s important to look after your mental, oral, and skin health, but what about your gut health? As more research is published on the importance of keeping our guts healthy, the faster the fascination grows. Of course, when you discover that your gut is your ‘second brain’, it’s hard to ignore the potential benefits of having a happy stomach, right?
With so many factors at play, from your daily diet to natural gut health supplements, the world of restoring your digestive health can be both intriguing and overwhelming. To keep you up to date on everything you need to know and avoid all that confusion, let’s get into gut health 101.
What Does Gut Health Mean?
When you talk about your gut, you’re referring to your digestive system: the function that processes all the food you consume and turns it into energy, nutrients, and waste. And within the digestive system, you have trillions of bacteria and microorganisms that break down your food and have a direct impact on your entire well-being.
Gut health wellness is thought to be when the ecosystem of bacteria is in harmony; when there is disequilibrium between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, the rest of our well-being is impacted. For instance, did you know that your gut provides your body with 95% of its feel-good chemical serotonin? That’s why the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ can be taken quite literally.
Before jumping into what can swing this balance, let’s take a closer look at why this is all so important.
Why is Gut Health Important?
The key to understanding the importance of gut health is that it’s home to trillions of microorganisms responsible for many essential functions such as digestion, nutrient absorption, immune system regulation, and even mood regulation.
Despite its importance, it’s all too easy to neglect it. For example, you may have built a lean physique but if you’re fueling your body with processed foods and promoting the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria, the rest of your health could suffer. This is called gut imbalance – a root cause of so many health issues.
What Does the Gut Control?
You now know gut health is important but let’s get more specific, here are some areas of your health directly impacted by your gut:
- Immunity – the immune system is regulated by the gut microbiome, and any alterations to its balance can result in inflammation and autoimmune conditions.
- Brain Health – brain function can be influenced by the gut microbiome, as it produces neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA that affect mood.
- Nutrient Absorption – the gut microbiome is essential for the digestion and utilization of nutrients, including important macronutrients and micronutrients like B vitamins, which help regulate metabolism and mood while also providing energy.
In short, you could say that gut health is the core of our overall health. Not only does it directly impact our mind and body (such as the link between gut health and inflammation), but external factors can also impact gut health too.
What Can Negatively Impact Gut Health
Now that it’s clear that your gut health can be thrown out of whack, it’s important to take a closer look at the things that make it unhappy.
Can Stress Affect Your Gut Health?
Your digestive system is not a priority when you’re faced with a ‘threat’. That’s why you experience unusual bowel movements when stressed or anxious. Unfortunately, you still respond the same as your prehistoric ancestors had to out in the wild; day-to-day stressors like running late or difficult conversations trigger the same reaction as facing a hungry tiger.
Neglecting Long-Term Stress Weakens Your Gut Health
You tend to deal with day-to-day stress just fine. However, when you neglect long-term stressors like overworking or emotional burdens, cortisol constantly pumps around your body and has a nasty impact on digestion and the microbiome. That means stomach acid issues, fewer essential nutrients, mood changes, low energy levels, and potential illness.
While stress is an inevitable part of your life, learning how to manage it is going to help you towards achieving better gut health.
Can Medication Affect Your Gut Health?
While medications can be lifesaving, they can also disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome, causing a significant impact on your gut health.
Antibiotics Can Weaken Your Gut Health
Antibiotics, for example, are designed to kill harmful bacteria but they can also kill beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to imbalances and potential long-term consequences to your health. Only use them when necessary and always consult with your doctor.
Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Can Weaken Your Gut Health
Other medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can damage the lining of the gut, leading to inflammation and increased permeability. Have you ever been advised not to take this type of medication on an empty stomach? Now you know why. This can also result in a condition known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’, which triggers the onset of a whole range of health issues, including autoimmune disorders.
Healing Your Gut After Antibiotics and NSAIDs is Possible
Prevention is key. It’s essential to discuss the potential impact of medications on your gut health with a healthcare provider before taking anything, especially if you’re looking to take these steps to improve your gut health.
Can Sleep Affect Your Gut Health?
Sleep is so important. It gives the body an opportunity to regenerate every night and allows the digestive system and gut microbiome to get to work. Without proper sleep each day, your body struggles.
Sleep is Essential for Overall Health
Good sleep is often one of the most difficult things to master because it’s so easily impacted by your lifestyle; whether that’s due to young children or demanding jobs. With over a third of Americans getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night, it’s clear that this is an important area of focus when improving your gut health.
Poor Sleep Can Damage Your Gut Health
Without enough sleep, the digestive system can become sluggish, leading to issues with constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. If this lack of sleep is neglected, the consequence will be an imbalance in the gut microbiome, which (as you now know) is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut.
Therefore, poor sleep can lead to gut health inflammation and a weakened immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections and diseases.
Can Your Diet Affect Your Gut Health?
If you think of your gut microbiome as a garden, it then makes sense why what you consume has such a huge impact on the quality of bacteria and microorganisms. Sure, eating a varied and balanced diet is not groundbreaking health advice but it is crucial for good gut health.
It’s Important to Feed Your Microbiome
When you’re feeding yourself, you’re also feeding your gut bacteria. Every meal is affecting whether you have harmony in your gut microbiome. Sugary, highly-processed foods don’t offer the ‘good’ bacteria any nutrients and can multiply the ‘bad’ bacteria leading to inflammation, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system.
What Food and Drink are Bad for Gut Health?
It’s okay to indulge, but if your gut health is struggling, then the impact of the ‘treat’ will upset the system, and the rest of your well-being, immediately. To improve this, consider reducing your consumption of these foods and drinks:
- Processed meats
- High-sugar foods like cakes and candy
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- Artificial sweeteners
It’s important to eat a diet that’s rich in fiber, prebiotics and probiotics to promote a diverse and healthy microbiome. Expect all the benefits of good gut health along with improved digestion. Goodbye gut health bloating!
How to Improve Your Gut Health
The good news is that it is possible to improve your gut health. Let’s take a closer look on ways to heal your gut.
Eating a Varied Diet
One often overlooked piece of advice is to make sure your diet is diversified. Always eating the same foods limits the range of microorganisms alive in your digestive tract. The more really is the merrier since a diverse microbiome makes the gut more powerful especially when it comes to your immune system.
What Foods Will Improve Your Gut Health?
To keep your gut alive and thriving, here are some superfoods for gut health you should eat regularly:
- High-fiber fruit and veggies – any you can get your hands on will be great, but high-fiber choices include apples, carrots, broccoli, and beetroot
- Oats – they’re a good source of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to increase good bacteria in the gut
- Almonds – a tasty snack full of fiber that have also shown to act as a prebiotic, which feeds the healthy bacteria
- Fermented foods – whether you enjoy kimchi, miso paste or kefir, these types of foods are thriving with trillions of bacteria that is only going to support your diversity of hard-working microorganisms
- Garlic – not just another tasty prebiotic, garlic also works as an antibiotic as it cleans your gut of ‘bad’ bacteria, fungi and viruses
Complete Gut Cleansing Foods List
A gut cleansing foods list can be a valuable tool for anyone looking to improve their digestive health. The foods on this list are typically rich in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can help support a healthy gut microbiome and improve overall digestion. One category of gut cleansing foods is fermented foods, which contain live cultures of beneficial bacteria that can help replenish and balance the gut microbiome. Examples include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt.
- Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, arugula
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
- Fermented Foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, yogurt
- Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds
- Whole Grains: Quinoa, brown rice, barley, oats
- Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans
- Herbs and Spices: Turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon
- Healthy Fats: Avocado, olive oil, coconut oil
- Water: Staying hydrated is crucial for a healthy digestive system. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help flush toxins out of the body and promote healthy bowel movements.
Incorporating these gut cleansing foods into your diet can help support a healthy gut microbiome and improve overall digestive function. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s digestive system is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you have any concerns about your digestive health, it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional.
Detoxing Your Gut
If you’re really struggling and seeking some stomach healing, then a clean gut diet is the way forward. You can also work with a Gastroenterologist who will put you on a gut-healing regime. This can vary from practitioner to practitioner but it’s likely to involve an elimination diet for gut health.
Probiotics and Prebiotics Can Improve Your Gut Health
Perhaps you want to ensure your health is in tip-top condition in a low-maintenance way. One solution is to incorporate gut healing supplements otherwise known as probiotics and prebiotics.
Source Probiotics and Prebiotics Through Your Diet
If you make fiber and diversity your priority on every plate, you will feed your existing microbiome. Wholefood fiber is prebiotic and keeps microbes thriving. To grow your garden of healthy bacteria, you’ll also want to consider probiotics, which requires adding fermented foods to your meals. Top your dishes with kimchi or sauerkraut, include kefir or yogurt with your breakfast and enjoy tempeh or miso for some gut-loving flavor.
Gut Healing Supplements
For a guaranteed dose of prebiotics or probiotics, you could also take them in capsule form which you can purchase over the counter, but as always, it’s worth consulting a professional first.
GI Revive is a dietary supplement designed to support gastrointestinal health. It contains a blend of nutrients, herbs, and amino acids that work together to promote digestive function and soothe the intestinal lining. Some of the key ingredients in GI Revive include L-glutamine, aloe vera, slippery elm, marshmallow root, and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). These ingredients have been shown to help heal and protect the gut lining, reduce inflammation, and support healthy bowel movements. GI Revive may be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and other digestive issues. As with any supplement, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before adding GI Revive to your regimen.
Ion Gut Health
Ion Gut Health is a dietary supplement that claims to improve gut health by reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Its main ingredient is a proprietary blend of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including butyrate, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. The supplement also contains a prebiotic blend of resistant starches and fiber, which serves as food for beneficial bacteria in the gut. Ion Gut Health has been marketed as a solution for a wide range of gut-related issues, including leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Crohn’s disease. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims, and it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before using any supplement.
Arbonne Gut Health
Arbonne Gut Health is a line of dietary supplements designed to support digestive health. The products contain a blend of prebiotics, probiotics, and enzymes that work together to promote a healthy gut microbiome and improve nutrient absorption. The line includes products such as Digestion Plus, a powder supplement containing probiotics, prebiotics, and enzymes, and Mind Health, which is formulated with adaptogenic herbs to support stress management and gut health. Arbonne Gut Health products are marketed as a solution for a wide range of digestive issues, including bloating, constipation, and irregular bowel movements. As with any supplement, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before adding Arbonne Gut Health products to your regimen.
Biohm Probiotics is a line of dietary supplements that are designed to support gut health and digestive function. The products contain a blend of prebiotics, probiotics, and enzymes that work together to promote a healthy gut microbiome and improve nutrient absorption. One unique feature of Biohm Probiotics is that they are formulated to address both bacterial and fungal imbalances in the gut. This is achieved through the use of a patented enzyme that helps break down the cell walls of harmful fungi. Biohm Probiotics are marketed as a solution for a range of digestive issues, including bloating, constipation, and irregular bowel movements. As with any supplement, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before adding Biohm Probiotics to your regimen.
Gut Love is a probiotic supplement that is designed to support gut health and overall digestive function. The product contains a blend of 15 different strains of probiotics, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which are known for their beneficial effects on the gut microbiome. The supplement is formulated to help improve nutrient absorption, support healthy bowel movements, and reduce digestive discomfort. Gut Love is marketed as a natural solution for a range of digestive issues, including bloating, gas, and constipation. As with any supplement, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before adding Gut Love to your regimen.
Better Mental Health Will Improve Your Gut Health
Want to know the best way to heal your gut? Look after your mental health. It may seem like your mental health and gut health are two separate things, but the truth is they are intimately connected.
Why is the Gut-Brain Axis Important for Gut Health?
The gut-brain axis, a complex network of communication between the gut and the brain, plays a vital role in regulating mood, emotions, and even behavior. When you experience stress, anxiety, or depression, it can disrupt this delicate balance and lead to a variety of digestive problems, such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
On the other hand, when we prioritize our mental health and take steps to reduce stress, improve sleep, and cultivate positive emotions, it can have a profound effect on our gut health as well.
Tools to Help Your Mental Health
Research has shown that practices like meditation, exercise, and therapy can improve gut function, reduce inflammation, and even boost the diversity of beneficial bacteria in the gut. If you want to support your overall health and well-being, don’t forget to nourish your mind and your gut in equal measure.
Gut Health is at the Core of Your Entire Well-being and Small Steps Each Day Will Improve it
From stress levels and sleep, right down to the type of medication you take, gut health is a delicate powerhouse. Thankfully, there are tiny steps you can take each day which will make a huge impact on your gut health over time.
Each day, consider the things that could be harming the health of your gut microbiome. Could you work with a mental health professional to work on your stress management? Or is sleep hygiene your downfall?
To help improve your gut health, simply make sure you eat gut-cleansing foods full of diverse sources of fiber and also consider restoring gut health after taking antibiotics. Even if you just keep on looking after your mental health and know that the occasional serving of kimchi is an excellent way to love your gut, you’ll be on the right track.
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