Posted on by Village Green Nutrition Team
What happens in your gut can have far-reaching effects on your whole body. It's no surprise then, that issues in the gut microbiome have been linked to obesity, liver diseases, diabetes, cancer, and other serious illnesses. When you neglect your gut health, you neglect your health overall.
Thankfully, there are some habits that can help support your gut microbiome and promote total body health. Learn how to improve your gut microbiome with these eight diet and lifestyle tips.
1. Drink Water
Drinking enough water helps to maintain regular digestion. When you're not properly hydrated, you're more likely to suffer from slow digestion and constipation. When this happens, the body steals water from the large intestines, creating an imbalanced environment that makes it difficult for good gut bacteria to thrive.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep your digestive system functioning well and supports a healthy gut microbiome.
2. Include Prebiotics and Probiotics in Your Diet
Prebiotic and probiotic foods are useful in balancing the bacteria in your gut. But why is this important and what do bacteria do in the gut?
The bacteria in your gut play a vital role in the entire body. They're responsible for breaking down food, distributing energy throughout the body, and training your immune system.
But they can't do their job without fuel. And that fuel comes from prebiotic foods. Some examples include:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and lentils
- Root vegetables
Prebiotics power the healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome. But if you don't already have enough healthy bacteria, probiotic foods (such as fermented foods) and supplements can supply more beneficial bacteria for the gut.
This is especially important if you take antibiotics and other medications that may deplete beneficial bacteria in the gut. A multi-strain probiotic supplement is a helpful way to restore balance.
3. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
One of the best ways to improve your gut microbiome is to eat foods rich in fiber. Fiber can be difficult for the body to break down, but that's where key gut bacteria swoop in to help. They feed on the fiber found in vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains, digesting the fiber and supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
4. Avoid Highly Processed Foods
A diet that includes a lot of highly processed foods with a lot of sugar and salt (deli meats, soda, white flour, refined grains, trans fats, etc.) can increase inflammation and harm healthy gut microbes.
5. Limit Foods That You're Sensitive To
Food sensitivities and intolerances can impact how your gut microbiome responds to certain foods (and vice versa).
Even if you don't have a specific condition, you may have digestive distress after eating certain foods. This can often be a result of an imbalance of gut bacteria. Some foods that trigger sensitivity or digestive issues include dairy, wheat products, some vegetables (especially when left uncooked), and starchy foods.
Identify which foods trigger discomfort for you, and limit them in your diet as much as possible. In addition, take steps to promote GI health to help reduce inflammation and increase intestinal mucosal barrier health, which can help to reduce food sensitivities.
6. Manage Stress
Stress can make you feel exhausted, and it has a similar effect on your gut microbiome, too.
Emotional and psychological stress (even when only brief) triggers a response in the gut when stress hormones and inflammation spike. Then the gut bacteria release metabolites, toxins and neurohormones that can negatively impact your appetite and digestion.
Finding ways to combat stress can help keep your gut healthy and functioning as it should. Find time to slow your breathing, relax your muscles, and get plenty of rest.
The benefits of exercise on the body are practically endless. And if you needed another reason to exercise, count your gut microbiome.
Exercise is known to boost the gut microbiome by reducing stress, inflammation and obesity. And when comparing people who exercise with those who don't, greater gut microbial diversity was found in those who regularly engaged in moderate exercise.
For a strong gut microbiome, go on a brisk walk, hit the gym, or play a favorite sport to stay active.
8. Kick Your Vices
Some common bad habits can impact the gut microbiome, increasing bad bacteria while damaging the good.
Smoking is one vice that can directly affect your gut. If you're a regular smoker, you may have an imbalanced microbiome, which can lead to other digestive issues, such as irritable bowel disease.
Drinking alcohol can also hurt your gut. Alcohol weakens the intestinal barrier, which can lead to a leaky gut. This means that toxins, bacteria and food can leak out of the gastrointestinal tract and into the blood. Then gut bacteria aren't able to play their typical role in digestion. Not only that, but alcohol may kill some of the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.
To maintain a healthy gut, quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
Boost Your Gut Microbiome, Boost Your Overall Health
For optimal health, start with your gut. Your entire body depends on the proper functioning of the gut microbiome to avoid digestive issues, illnesses, and even serious diseases.
If you're ready to focus on your health, consider working with a nutrition expert and doing a Digestive Health Panel lab test. This can help you to learn about your gut microbiome and how to adopt healthy habits to optimize your health.From digestive health products to personalized wellness counseling, Village Green Apothecary is here to help. Contact us for more information about our nutritional products and services!
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