Gut health is all about bacteria balance and function in your gastrointestinal tract. A healthy gut has healthy immune cells and bacteria that fight harmful bacteria away, fungi, and viruses. It also helps you maintain overall well-being and health. While you may experience digestive issues at some point in your life, including bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, loose stool, vomiting, heartburn, and nausea, their persistence could be a sign of underlying health concerns that require medical attention.
A healthy gut guarantees a healthy digestive system and overall mental and physical health. Start experiencing unexplainable weight loss, black stool, blood in your stool, fever, severe stomach aches and vomiting, problems swallowing food, and pain in your chest/ throat once the food is swallowed. It could be a gastrointestinal problem. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do to improve gut health.
1. Eat high-fiber foods
Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables and other fiber-rich foods stimulates good gut bacteria growth to fight bad bacteria and prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Some of the high-fiber foods you can try include legumes, beans, raspberries, green peas, broccoli, artichokes, chickpeas, whole grains, bananas, lentils, and apples. Bifidobacteria from pistachios, almonds, and blueberries promote gut health and prevent intestinal inflammation.
2. Take probiotics
Probiotics are nourishing fibers that trigger the growth of good gut bacteria, help with digestion, bone health, immune system and mitigate gastrointestinal issues like bloating, cramping, and gas. Probiotic-rich foods include bananas, garlic, asparagus, onions, jicama, and leeks. Fermented vegetables like kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut are good sources of probiotics. Taking probiotic nutrition supplements like GI Resolve from nhc.com enhances gastrointestinal lining optimal lining, rejuvenates intestinal mucosa health, aids healthy inflammatory response, and develops immune support.
3. Invest in a variety of healthy foods
Investing in a diet consisting of many different foods results in a diverse microbiome that strengthens your gut bacteria and makes it more resilient. The different bacteria species in your intestines play specific roles and require various nutrients for growth. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and seeds boost your digestive tract health. Cut back on greasy, fatty, and excessively salty foods and sugars, as they aren’t beneficial for your gut health.
4. Eat prebiotic-rich foods
Prebiotic-rich foods enhance good bacteria growth in the gut. They’re usually complex carbs or fibers that your body cells can’t digest. However, some gut bacteria species break these foods down, distribute and utilize them as fuel all over the body. Most whole grains, fruits, and vegetables have prebiotics, so eat plenty of them. Resistant starch can also be classified as a prebiotic as it functions like soluble, fermentable fiber.
It feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut and enhances short-chain fatty acids production for improved gastrointestinal health. Some of the foods that can provide you with high resistant starch amounts are oats, cooked, cooled rice, grains like barley and sorghum, beans and legumes, raw potatoes, cooked, cooled potatoes, green bananas, hi-maize fiber, and other cooked, cooled starchy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, pasta, and corn tortillas.
5. Take more fermented foods
Eating more fermented foods contributes to the growth of bacteria with potential probiotic effects, helping restore bacteria balance in the gut, eliminate digestive problems, and aid digestive health. Since some of the starches and sugars are broken down already, fermented foods are easy to digest. Not all fermented foods are made equally, so consider the ones made from natural processes and ensure they contain probiotics.
To pick fermented foods containing probiotics, check the label for naturally fermented words, and upon opening the container, there should be bubbles to signify live organisms. You can also ferment your foods naturally at home.
6. Focus on plant-based diets
A robust and healthy microbiota is essential for immunity against destructive pathogens, sound digestive health, and a good mood. Eating more plant-based foods preserves your intestinal barrier and enhances gut bacteria diversity. It prevents cancerous cell and pathogenic bacteria growth. A nutritious plant-based diet increases healthy microbiota diversity because the foods contain different fiber levels. If your diet is short of fiber, consider supplementing for a similar effect.
Indulging in diets containing saturated fats and refined sugars with less whole vegetables and fruits reduces microbiota diversity, contributing to diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. A healthy plant-based diet protects your gut barrier and prevents toxins and bad gut bacteria from entering your bloodstream.
7. Eat polyphenol-rich foods
Polyphenol micronutrients can be found in fruits, spices, teas, vegetables, and supplements. They enhance your gut’s good bacteria growth and destroy harmful bacteria, promoting good digestion. However, you need a healthy bacteria balance for optimal immune system function. Polyphenols-rich foods strengthen your immune system to fight diseases and infections. Food rich in polyphenols includes berries like blueberries, blackcurrant, and blackberries. Herbs and spices like cloves, peppermint, and star anise. Cocoa powder, nuts, flaxseeds, vegetables, olives, coffee, and tea.
8. Avoid stress
Stress can negatively impact brain-gut communication, triggering bloating, pain, and other gut discomforts. The gut is home to many bacteria, which can impact its health and that of your brain, affecting your thinking ability and emotions. Stress also causes nausea, vomiting, and other stomach discomfort and may result in bowel movement disorders. Stress affects digestion, increased gas production and the number of nutrients the intestines can absorb.
Stress can also weaken the intestinal barrier, allowing gut bacteria into the body. It can also affect persons with severe bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease because the gut nerve sensitivity, microbiota changes, food movement changes in the gut and gut immune response changes. Avoiding stress can help improve gut health.
9. Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for overall health and improves body system functionality, including the digestive system. Inconsistent sleep patterns result in unbalanced hormones and increase your cortisol levels. This causes stress and leads to intestinal bloating, stomach pain, inflammation, food sensitivities, and gut microbiome changes. Sleep deprivation may cause you to make unhealthy food choices, including refined sugars, processed carbs, and fats, negatively impacting gut health and overall body health.
The melatonin hormone that helps you sleep also regulates gastrointestinal motility. When its levels reduce, you may not fall asleep and may be at risk of contracting a gastroesophageal disease. Staying up too late causes you to eat too close to your bedtime, affecting your digestive health. You can use melatonin supplements to increase its levels to sleep better, improving gut health.
Gut health is key to a healthy digestive system and overall health. Use these tips to improve your gut health.