Taking Care of Your Digestive Health

October 3, 2023 |
Article | 5 min
| Personal Insights

Your gut is not just where you digest your food. It’s also where you have trillions of tiny organisms that help you stay healthy, happy and smart. Here are some things you should know about your gut and how to make it stronger.

What Is Gut Health?

Gut health is all about the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. These microorganisms, also called the gut microbiome, help you break down food, get nutrients, fight inflammation and boost immunity. Gut health also affects your mental health, mood and brain function. In fact, your gut microbiome can produce vitamins, hormones, neurotransmitters and other substances that affect your metabolism, appetite, weight, mood, memory and cognition. It also interacts with your immune system and modulates your response to infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

How Can You Improve Your Gut Health?

There are many things that can mess up your gut health, like what you eat, how stressed you are, how much you sleep, what drugs you take and what toxins you’re exposed to. To improve your gut health, try these tips:

Eat foods that have prebiotics, which help the microbes already in your microbiome to grow by giving them the foods they like. Prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables containing complex carbohydrates, such as fiber. You may already have these foods in your pantry or fridge, including apples, bananas, berries, carrots, flax seed, garlic, oats and sweet potatoes. Fiber feeds the good microorganisms in your gut and, as a special bonus, helps you with bathroom exercise number two.

Eat more fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. Fermented foods have probiotics, which can improve your gut microbiome and immune system.

Avoid or limit processed foods, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and antibiotics. These foods can mess up your gut microbiome and cause inflammation.

Manage your stress levels. Stress can affect your gut-brain connection and change your gut microbiome. Try to relax with things like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises or hobbies.

Get enough sleep. Not sleeping enough can hurt your gut wall function and increase inflammation. Aim for at least seven hours of good sleep per night.

Exercise regularly. Moving your body can make your gut move better and gut microbiome more diverse. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

By following these tips, you can improve your gut health and enjoy the benefits for your whole body and mind. Remember to talk to your doctor before making any big changes to your diet or lifestyle.

Sources: medicalnewstoday.org; healthline.com; eatingwell.com

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