Gut health is a relatively new term that has grown in popularity over the past few years. As a result, gut health has become one of the most important aspects to be aware of for your overall well-being. It’s important to note that it affects and includes everything from gut microbiota, gut motility, gut permeability (aka leaky gut) and more.
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This article will explore why gut health is essential and five different ways to improve gut health! Be prepared to explore everything from must-have gut health supplements to lifestyle adjustments so you can take care of your gut today!
What Is Gut Health, and Why’s It Important?
Your gut is the gateway to your health. It can be an indicator of issues ranging from hormone production to the way you digest food. Many diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, can even start with gut dysfunction. So when your gut isn’t working correctly, there’s a good chance other areas in your body aren’t either because gut health plays a vital role in overall health.
What Does a Healthy Gut Look Like?
When we say the word “gut,” we refer to the gut microbiome, a complex system of bacteria, archaea and fungi that reside in your gut.
A healthy gut should be full of these various beneficial organisms, including probiotics. A healthy gut also produces a lot of digestive enzymes, and the gut wall is strong and flexible. Your gut also needs to be able to regenerate and repair on its own.
Overall, a gut that is healthy will help you digest food better and absorb nutrients more effectively so your body can function as it should.
A healthy gut microbiome doesn’t just benefit you from the inside. In fact, gut health is one of the best indicators of healthy skin and can keep your brain healthy by preventing gut-brain axis dysfunction. So, sometimes the indicators of an unhealthy gut become apparent through secondary conditions as well.
5 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health
Now that we know why gut health is important, let’s look at ways to improve it!
1) Include Fermented Foods in Your Diet
One of the best ways to improve gut health is by including fermented foods in your diet. Fermented foods include but are not limited to miso paste, sauerkraut, organic yogurt, tempeh and kimchi. By eating these gut-friendly foods regularly, you’ll help improve gut health by increasing gut microbiota.
If you haven’t eaten a lot of fermented foods in the past, go slowly when you first start adding them into your diet. Otherwise, you may experience gut dysbiosis, which is where gut microbiota is out of whack. Remember, listening to your body is the best thing you can do!
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2) Get More Sleep
Sleep is another crucial factor in gut health. When you sleep, your gut goes through a repairing process and gut motility (aka gut function). Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough sleep each night which can lead to gut dysfunction.
Here are some quick tips for getting more (and better) sleep:
- Establish a regular bedtime routine to help you relax at night.
- Avoid blue light around bedtime and consider turning off all screens about 30-60 minutes before going to sleep.
- Make your bedroom a peaceful, restful sanctuary by keeping it neat and clean.
- Ensure lighting and temperature are optimal to get you into sleep mode.
- Eat your last meal of the day two to three hours before going to sleep (so you don’t wake up feeling hungry and avoid digestion issues).
3) Exercise Regularly
Exercise is good for gut health because it helps improve gut motility, gut barrier function, gut permeability and gut microbiota. However, if you haven’t exercised regularly in the past but want to focus on gut health, be careful not to overdo it at first because that could lead to gut dysfunction as well.
Once you’ve built up your strength and stamina, exercise can become one of your gut’s best friends.
4) Tame Your Stress
Stress is another gut health factor that can wreak havoc on gut health which is why it’s essential to manage stress levels. If you’re stressed all the time, your gut won’t be in good shape because your gut microbiota will be out of whack. This is why finding ways to manage stress is fundamental.
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There are many ways you can manage your stress, including but not limited to: getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a gut-friendly diet, practicing gratitude/meditation/prayer, spending time with friends and family and getting a massage.
5) Eat Gut-Friendly Foods and Supplements
Last but not least, gut-friendly foods and supplements can help improve gut health. This includes but is not limited to leafy greens (like kale and spinach), oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts (like almonds, pecans and cashews), fish oil supplements, spirulina, cacao nibs, unsweetened coconut flakes, garlic and cinnamon.
All of these gut-friendly foods are easy to incorporate into your diet since they are delicious! Plus, many gut-friendly supplements are available as well.
If you struggle with gut health and find it hard to eat right, or you’re just not getting the desired results from your diet, consider adding supplements to your routine. There are tons of resources out there to find the best supplements for leaky gut, gut microbiota, gut motility/function, gut permeability, gut barrier function and gut health in general. All you might need is something like a leaky gut powder added to a cup of water once a day to make a world of difference in your digestive health.
Keep at It!
It’s important to realize that if you’re having gut health issues that these didn’t develop overnight. They’re likely the result of years of gut dysfunction that are now catching up to you. This is why gut health takes time – often months or years – to heal. It’s essential to be patient with yourself, practice self-care and focus on gut health as an ongoing priority in your life if you want it to improve.
Don’t let poor gut health hold you back! Instead, do something about it today!