Gut health is all about the microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. Each of us has between 300 and 500 different species of bacteria in our digestive tract, some harmful and some beneficial to our overall health.
Studies have shown that good bacteria in our guts can lead to a stronger immune system, combat obesity and improve heart health.
But how do you go about improving your gut health? Well, we can help. Let’s have a look at a few of the ways you can increase the good bacteria in your digestive tract and lead a healthier life.
- Watch your Diet
One of the most important ways you can improve your gut health is to eat a healthy, varied and natural diet.
There are hundreds of species of bacteria in our gut, and each one plays a different role in our well-being. They each require different nutrients in order to flourish, and we can achieve this through watching what we eat. Some dieting tips to follow when trying to improve your gut health are:
- Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are foods that have been altered by microbes. They are generally rich in lactobacilli, which can be very beneficial to your gut health. Some popular fermented foods include yoghurt, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Have a high intake of prebiotic fibre
Probiotics feed on nondigestible foods called prebiotics, which help healthy bacteria to grow in the gut. They essentially provide “food” for the good bacteria in our digestive tract to feed off of. Sources of prebiotic fibre include bananas, asparagus, garlic and onions.
- Reduce artificial and processed foods
Eating processed and high-sugar foods may cause gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of microbes in your digestive system. Studies have shown they can unsettle your digestion, increase inflammation of the gut and even cause diseases.
Avoiding processed, high-sugar foods like lollies, soft drinks, energy drinks and certain breakfast cereals can help prevent this from happening.
- Eat more plant-based foods
Research has shown that those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets have much lower levels of gut inflammation and dysbiosis than those who eat diets heavy on meat and dairy. Kapai Puku is a great source of natural plant-based fibre that is excellent for gut health and overall wellbeing.
Plant-based foods are more likely to be high in prebiotic fibre and low in sugar and artificial sweeteners, which may explain these findings. If fully committing to a plant-based diet is out of the question, eating vegan or vegetarian meals a few times a week can still be very beneficial.
- Take Probiotics
If you don’t trust yourself to eat enough foods high in probiotics, supplements are a great alternative. Plenty of great probiotic supplements can be found in health food stores, chemists and online.
- Stay Hydrated
Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated has been shown to have a positive effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, while also promoting the levels of good bacteria in the gut. It’s a simple and achievable way to promote the continued health of your digestive systems.
- Regular Exercise
Regular exercise has many benefits, including weight loss and maintenance and heart health. Research has also suggested that it contributes positively to our gut health, by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cell-signalling proteins and reducing that of pro-inflammatory ones.
It’s recommended that adults partake in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week, as well as performing strength exercises at least twice a week.
- Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do for both our mental and physical well-being. Sleep helps our cognitive abilities and mood, and studies show it may also help our gut health.
Poor sleeping habits have been shown to increase the growth of inflammatory conditions in the gut, demonstrating that healthy, consistent sleeping patterns can help maintain the flora in our digestive systems. It’s recommended that adults go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
- Lower your Stress Levels
Managing our stress levels is an important part of life for any adult, as it’s easy to become overwhelmed professionally, personally or both. Studies have shown that high levels of stress can disrupt the microorganisms in the intestines, even if we’re only feeling stressed for a short period.
There are many ways to try and combat the negative effects of stress, such as meditation, regular exercise and good sleeping habits.
Maintaining healthy gut bacteria is an extremely important element of our health. Make sure you eat well, exercise regularly, stay hydrated and maintain stress levels in order to improve your gut health and help prevent any health concerns.