You might be surprised to know that the health of your gut is not just related to the digestive system. Our body systems operate together in sync, which means that other systems can be affected if one system does not work correctly.
You usually tell when your gastrointestinal system is off; the symptoms can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. But what you might not realize is that you can boost your gut health in several ways and not all of them start with what you’re putting into your body.
What influences our gut health?
Changes in stomach acid, gut immunity, and gastrointestinal flora – the diverse community of bacteria in your digestive system – are the primary influencers of gut health.
When the well-being of your gut is right, you are less likely to experience inflammation and problems with immunity.
How to tell if your gut isn’t working right
Many aspects of modern life can harm our gut microbiome, including high stress, sleep deprivation, processed and high-sugar food, and antibiotics.
This can influence other aspects of our health, such as our brain, heart, immune system, skin, weight, hormone levels, nutrient absorption capacity, and even the development of cancer.
An unhealthy gut can show itself in several ways. Here are some of the most common signs:
- An upset stomach
- Shifts in weight
- Sleep disturbances
- Irritated skin
- Food intolerances
What can I do to boost my gut health?
The following ways of protecting your digestive system may sound surprising as they don’t all revolve around food— but it is all connected.
So what things can you do to support a healthy and diverse microbiome?
Tip #1: Eat probiotic foods
What foods are probiotic? These are foods containing microorganisms with a health benefit.
Several types of helpful microorganisms are added to foods such as yoghurt or are naturally found in other fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi, which give them a health-promoting effect.
You may wonder if probiotic supplements are as beneficial as a probiotic food. There’s not enough evidence so far to say that — so stick with eating the foods for now.
Tip #2: Eat prebiotic foods
Probiotics feed on prebiotics, also called nondigestible carbohydrates. This method promotes the proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
A 2017 study has indicated that prebiotics may improve sleep and reduce stress in those who use it.
People who want to improve their gut health may wish to include more of the following foods that are rich in prebiotics in their diet:
- Jerusalem artichoke
- whole grains
Tip #3: Exercise regularly
Exercising regularly contributes to good heart health, weight loss or weight management. Research has also suggested that it may also improve the health of the gut, which, in turn, may help to control obesity.
A study this year found athletes had a wider variety of gut flora than non-athletes.
According to the NHS, adults need to “do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week.”
Tip #4: Limit your artificial sweeteners
Sugar-free options are often branded as healthier than sugar, but it is not strictly true when it comes to your gut health.
For people with a sweet tooth, artificial sweeteners may be a convenient substitute but not as beneficial as initially thought. Certain reports have shown increased blood sugar, obesity and type 2 diabetes when consuming them regularly.
Tip #5: Diversify your diet
There’s a lot of discussion about what makes up a safe gut microbe culture, but one thing’s become clear. Human beings need a diverse microbiome with a variety of bacterial species that can quickly adapt to the full range of foods that we might want to eat while performing all those essential functions, such as inflammation prevention.
Most people with a gut-related disease — or even other illnesses, such as diabetes and allergies — have one thing in common: their microbial populations lack variety. A diverse gut is a healthy one, and a wide range of healthy foods is one of the best ways to build this kind of bacterial community.
For a quick boost for your gut, check out my range of probiotic snacks in my online shop.