For several years the topic of gut health and terms like “microbiome” have been quite the “buzz” in health circles. Research shows that there is good reason for this. One very critical reason is that 70-80% of our immune cells are located in the gut. That’s why it’s vitally important to make sure you optimize your gut health.
What’s Microbiome Got to do With it?
In your gut are tiny microorganisms, including bacteria, protozoa, fungi and other kinds of single-celled organisms. There are trillions of these microorganisms that make up your gut’s microbiome and they are needed to digest and absorb nutrients. They also synthesize vitamins and provide some immunity from viruses and other unwanted invaders.
When your gut has the right environmental conditions these microorganisms live harmoniously together, helping your body to be in a state of wellness. Unfortunately, sometimes your gut flora can become unbalanced and this can result in a flood of harmful bacteria. This is when problems arise. Thus, it is important to have healthy, probiotic bacteria in your gut.
There are several things that can lead to an unbalanced microbiome. One of the most common is through poor lifestyle choices, like consuming lots of processed foods and sugary drinks. Other harmful things include stress as well as antibiotics. Courses of antibiotics may kill off bad bacteria in your body, but unfortunately, they also kill the beneficial bacteria in your gut. It may be essential, then, for good health to improve your gut health.
Strategies to Heal Your Gut and Improve your Health
Try a plant-based diet. Many people don’t realize how meat and dairy products negatively affects their gut. You might find that your digestive system feels and behaves better when you choose plant-based foods.
Chew your food thoroughly. The more you chew your food, the easier it is to digest. When you chew your food thoroughly, you increase the amount of surface area your digestive juices are able to attack. This creates far less stress for your digestive system.
Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is considered by many scientists to be a toxin. It can be damaging to all the cells of your body. And, artificial sweeteners are not a great substitute. Certain types of bad bacteria in your gut consume various artificial sweeteners and become too prevalent in your body.
Consider taking probiotics and prebiotics. Much of your digestive system consists of the flora, or bacteria, that live in your gut. There are foods. like yogurt, that contain these healthy bacteria and work as probiotics. However, you can also consume probiotics in pill form. Include prebiotic foods in your diet. Prebiotic foods help feed the beneficial probiotic microorganisms in your gut. Much of a plant-based diet consists of prebiotic foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Prebiotic foods and probiotic microorganisms are a great way to improve your gut health.
Practice stress management. Stress is hard on every part of your body, and that includes your gut. Minimizing the amount of stress in your life can do wonders for your overall health. Either remove the sources of your stress or learn to view the stressors in a way that is more conducive to good health.
Get adequate sleep. Your overall health, including your gut health, improves when you get enough sleep. Most people in our society could stand to get another hour or two of sleep each night. If you’re not getting at least seven hours each night, you need more sleep.
If you haven’t been paying attention to your gut health, you may not be as healthy as you could be. What you eat, drink, the way you live, and even medication you take, has a profound effect your gut health. And this, in turn, greatly impacts your overall health. Take care of your gut and you’ll increase your sense of wellbeing.
- Photo by Sora Shimazaki