Scientists say that these simple lifestyle changes can improve your gut health. And you’re likely to see significant benefits in all areas of your health.
Gut health is something that affects every other area of your health. When your gut health is impaired, it can affect your digestive health, your immune system, and even your mental health.
Due to autoimmune diseases and the standard western diet that’s heavy on processed foods, many people deal with gut issues.
Leaky gut is something we’re learning more about for example. Leaky gut refers to a situation where the protective wall of the gut breaks down. Then, that leads to inflammation and substances that wouldn’t normally reach the bloodstream do.
The body triggers an immune response to these toxins, and that can lead to a range of symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, and bloating.
Taking care of your gut health can improve your overall well-being, and the following are ways to do it.
How Can You Improve Your Gut Health?
Here are 8 research-based tips that can help improve your gut health:
1. Increase Good Bacteria
Your gut has good and bad bacteria, and you want to have enough good bacteria as part of the ecosystem of your gut. When you have healthy bacteria levels, it can protect you from inflammation.
Taking probiotics is one way to increase the good bacteria in your gut. You can take a probiotic supplement, but fermented foods also have natural probiotics.
Examples of probiotic foods include cheese, yogurt, and sauerkraut.
The gut microbiome is a term that describes bacteria and the microorganisms that live in your intestines.
When you have a wide variety of good bacteria in your gut, it can improve symptoms of depression, help reduce obesity, and improve the function of your immune system.
Prebiotics can also be helpful to your gut microbiome because they help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
You should aim to eat a wide variety of foods because that will help ensure you have diverse microbiota.
This means you should move away from the standard western diet, which isn’t very diverse and is made up primarily of sugar and fat.
2. Reduce Sugar And Sweetener Intake
Having both sugar and artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on your gut health and can cause something called gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis is an imbalance of microbes.
3. Eat Foods High In Polyphenols
Polyphenols are compounds in plants that can be digested by gut bacteria. Along with improving gut health, polyphenols are beneficial for other areas of health. They can aid in reducing blood pressure and inflammation and prevent oxidative stress.
Sources of polyphenols include dark chocolate, grapes, green tea, almonds, blueberries, and broccoli.
Generally, the more vegetables you eat, the better your gut health is likely to be.
4. Cut Back On Alcohol
Alcohol has been linked to higher levels of inflammation in your gastrointestinal system, and it can increase gut permeability.
Quit drinking or at least limit your alcohol intake if you want your gut to be healthy.
5. Manage Stress
Psychological stress can disrupt the microorganisms that live in your gut. Along with psychological tress, environmental stress like extreme heat or cold, not getting enough sleep, and a disrupted circadian rhythm can all have a negative impact on what’s going on in your gut.
Learn healthy ways to deal with stress. Regular exercise can help you reduce stress, as can meditation or deep breathing.
6. Don’t Take Antibiotics Unless You Absolutely Have To
According to the CDC, around 30% of antibiotics prescribed in the U.S. aren’t necessary.
Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, and there’s research showing that even after six months following a course of antibiotics, the gut still doesn’t have complete amounts of beneficial bacteria.
If your doctor recommends antibiotics, talk with them about why and whether or not there are other options available.
When you regularly exercise, it can help your gut and reduce your risk of obesity. You should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. And you should do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
8. Get Plenty Of Sleep
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it could be contributing to gut issues. Getting enough sleep lets your body heal and recharge.
When you don’t get enough sleep it can impact gut flora and put you at greater risk for inflammatory conditions.
Find a sleep routine that works well for you and make it a priority in your life.
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night.
If you can do the work to improve your gut health, you’re likely to see benefits in all areas of your health. You may even see symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression lessening because the gut is connected to our brain.