When you think about your gut health, do you actually think you’re able to give it the attention it deserves? Since your gut processes the food you take in so the nutrients can be transported all over your body, you must pay closer attention to it.
‘Gut health’ refers to how your digestive tract is able to have that good balance of microorganisms that live in your gut or your stomach. This part of your body is composed of both good and bacteria. But for it to be in optimal condition, the good bacteria have to outweigh the bad. When this is achieved, your entire body is positively affected as well. This would potentially mean better physical immunity and health, among other good aftereffects.
If you find your gut health isn’t functioning as well as it should be, there are many things you can do to improve it. This article gives you a comprehensive rundown of everything you need to know when caring for your gut health, with an emphasis on diet tips to help you get started.
Diet Tips To Improve Gut Health
Your diet plays a significant role to play in how your gut functions. After all, your gut is the one responsible for processing what food you take in and absorbing the nutrients it has. With that said, here are some of the best tips to apply, to improve your gut health:
1. Eat More Probiotics And Fermented Food
Probiotics and fermented food are rich in good bacteria. When you incorporate these into your diet, you’re essentially feeding your body with more good bacteria so it could successfully overpower the bad bacteria which may be hurting your gut.
Apart from improving your gut health, probiotics and fermented food also bring in positive effects in your health and immune system. Here are other reasons why you should start incorporating probiotics and fermented food into your diet:
- Assists Your Digestive System To Break Down Food: Your body can’t do this function on its own. Your gut needs help from good bacteria to break down complex carbohydrates your food may contain. Think a lot of soluble fiber like beans and oranges.
- Assists Your Body To Absorb Vitamins: This includes synthesizing vitamins B1, B2, and B3.
- Has The Potential To Restored Your Body: If you’ve recently gotten sick and you were prescribed with antibiotics, then you may also want to focus on a diet rich with probiotic and fermented food. These could help restore balance to your body after going through digestive problems from taking antibiotics.
These are some of the best foods rich in probiotics:
- Sourdough bread
- Fermented pickles
If you can’t get yourself the time to prep probiotic-filled food or a diet of fermented dishes or if these aren’t readily available where you’re from, you could take gut health supplements as well. These have the potential to help ensure you get a boost of billions of added good bacteria to keep your gut health in optimum condition.
2. Take In More Prebiotic Fiber
For the probiotics in your body to stay healthy and to multiply, they need to feed on prebiotic fiber. Good gut health is characterized by having more good bacteria in your body. So to meet this, it essential that you need to feed your good bacteria with what makes them thrive—prebiotics.
Apart from being food to good bacteria, a good intake of prebiotic actually helps your body in so many ways, like the following:
- May Improve Immune System: Prebiotics can possibly reduce inflammation in your body, especially in the intestines. So when your body has a good balance of good and bad bacteria, your body is adequately protected from the possible onset of disease.
- May Improve Bone Health: Prebiotics could aid in better absorption of calcium, which your body needs for better bone health.
That said, here are some of the best foods rich in prebiotic fiber:
- Garlic: This is rich in inulin, which supports good bacteria.
- Onion: Apart from improving your gut health, onion may also strengthen your immune system with the prebiotics and flavonoids it contains.
- Bananas: These are rich in minerals and fiber, which can keep your gut health good and reduce bloating.
- Apples: This fruit contains pectin, which decreases your gut’s bad bacteria while increasing the healthy bacteria.
3. Eat A Lot Of Fruits, Vegetables, And Legumes
If you’ve been trying to keep up with a healthy diet, you may already know that fruits, vegetables, and legumes have to be the center of your diet. And rightfully so, as they’re good sources of fiber. They’re able to keep your body full and satiated from feelings of hunger, without the guilt of unnecessary fat and calories.
Fruits and vegetables are also very good sources of healthy microbiota, which your body needs for a healthy gut. Some of the best fruits, vegetables, and legumes for this purpose include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Beans like kidney beans and white beans
- Green peas
When you take in a diet filled with fruits and vegetables, you may increase your body’s production of Bifidobacteria. These can improve gut health and prevent intestinal inflammation.
4. Stay Away From Artificial Sweeteners
One of the most common mistakes made by individuals who are trying to control their sugar intake is replacing it instead with artificial sweeteners. You’re still doing your gut health wrong when you do so. Artificial sweeteners may have the negative effect of affecting your gut’s microbiota.
As a direct effect from that harmful change on the body’s microbiota, your body’s blood sugar levels may also be affected. So in the long run, your health still isn’t kept in good shape. Rather than take in artificial sweeteners, you may want to try out these healthier alternatives instead:
- Date Sugar: This is naturally processed from dehydrated ground dates and is very rich in antioxidants.
- Honey: Just be sure you’re taking in raw honey and not any form of commercial or processed ones.
- Stevia: When you take stevia as it is without added carbohydrates, it shouldn’t alter your blood sugar and, therefore, keeps your body in a better state of health.
5. Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains contain a lot of nondigestible carbs and fiber. Hence, in your pursuit of improving your gut health, incorporating a diet filled with a lot of whole grains is very important. When you take in nondigestible carbs, this means that these carbs aren’t absorbed in your small intestine but instead make their way through the large intestine. The microbiota in the large intestine then breaks down these whole grains and therefore should help in the growth of certain good bacteria.
Among other examples, the most common examples of whole grain food include:
- whole wheat bread and pasta,
- brown rice, and
If eating whole grains was previously a struggle for you, here are some sneaky ways you could incorporate more whole grain in your diet:
- Enjoy a hearty breakfast with whole grains like cereals or oatmeal.
- Use rolled oats in recipes that call for bread crumbs.
- Switch your plain bagel to whole wheat bagel.
- Replace white rice with quinoa or brown rice.
Apart from being good for your gut health, you could also enjoy a host of other benefits by including a lot of whole grains in your diet, which include the following:
- It provides your body with the essential nutrients it needs to function well.
- It may help with weight control.
- It could lower the risk of heart disease.
6. Fill Your Diet With Polyphenols
A healthy diet is also one with food rich in polyphenols, which are compounds that naturally occur in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and wine. Your body needs polyphenols to possibly reduce oxidative stress and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The way polyphenols work when taken in by the human body is that human cells couldn’t absorb these compounds. Consequently, polyphenols make their way directly to the colon, to be digested by the gut’s bacteria, keeping your good bacteria healthy.
With that in mind, some of the best sources of polyphenols include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Dark chocolate
- Red wine
7. Avoid Taking In The Wrong Food For Digestion
One aspect of switching your diet for better gut health also involves avoiding the wrong food for digestion. Here are some of the worst foods that inhibit poor digestion you should avoid, limit, or phase out in your diet:
- Fried Food: These are very high in fat, and regular consumption of fried food may bring about the onset of diarrhea.
- Fructose: This is usually found in juices, soda, and some pastries.
- Spicy Food: Too much consumption of spicy food may be too hard on your gut, leading to frequent indigestion.
Lifestyle Changes To Improve Gut Health
If you want to create a significant change in your gut’s condition, it’s not just enough to focus on your diet. Lifestyle changes are also called for. Small lifestyle changes might be difficult from the start, especially when you’re used to doing some things a certain way. But as you build a habit, these changes could help you get the best of your life:
- Get Enough Sleep: Your body needs at least eight hours of sleep every night to recuperate and recharge for the next day. This shouldn’t be limited to your energy but to all other functions of your body as well—gut health included.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink a lot of water. Ditch the sweet beverages and make water your first choice instead. Drinking plenty of water can improve your intestines’ mucosal lining. In effect, there’s better balance of good bacteria in your gut as well.
- Check For Any Food Intolerance: Perhaps your gut health problems could also be brought about by a food intolerance you might have but haven’t discovered before. It pays to give your doctor a visit to check for a possible food intolerance or allergies you may have. Once you start eliminating some common trigger foods from your diet, check to see if there are any changes in your gut and stomach health.
- Reduce Stress: When your body is under a lot of stress, your entire health is affected. Consequently, stress can disrupt the microorganisms in your small intestine, thereby affecting gut health.
- Exercise Regularly: Keeping an active lifestyle is important to improve your overall health. Even going for a quick 30-minute walk or run every day is already considered good enough. When you improve your gut health, other positive effects happen to your body, such as an improved ability to control obesity and other weight management issues.
- Switch To Natural Cleaning Products: Just as antibiotics may have a negative effect on your gut health, so does the continuous exposure to harmful cleaning products as well. Note that some cleaning products are filled with harsh chemicals so it could to do its job well. But with recent research and technology, there are other products made with natural components, which are also just as effective.
The Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut
It’s hard to close without touching on the signs of an unhealthy gut. After reading through this post, how do you actually determine if you’re suffering from an unhealthy gut? Like any medical condition, early diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle changes are needed. When you don’t do any of these, your health may start to worsen. Along that line, here are some telltale signs you may have an unhealthy gut:
- Upset stomach, characterized by gas, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Unintentional weight changes, which can be both losing and gaining weight, even if you haven’t made any change to your diet or exercise lately.
- Skin irritations like eczema, as these may sometimes occur due to the leaking of proteins out your body, which manifests itself through skin irritations.
If you feel you suffer from any of the symptoms above, go see your doctor for proper guidance on addressing and improving your gut health.
Collectively, the bacteria that lives in your digestive tract, particularly in your intestines, make up your gut health. When you want to be in the best, healthiest condition, keeping your gut healthy is very important.
There are many changes in your lifestyle, particularly your diet, that can contribute to better gut health. Most importantly, don’t go through these changes alone. Always seek the advice of a medical professional so you know you’re always on the safe side.