While you may know the gut as the gastrointestinal tract that plays a vital part in digestion and the absorption of nutrients, you should also know that your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms vital for overall health. Thus, gut health may be defined as the state of having a functioning gastrointestinal tract, a healthy and diverse population of microorganisms in the gut, and an absence of gastrointestinal disorders or diseases.
Luckily, this is attainable! So here are 4 actions you can take to improve your gut health.
Prioritize a Balanced Diet
It may be said a lot, but you really are what you eat as the human body needs a variety of nutrients from different food groups to function properly. So one of the primary ways for the growth and maintenance of beneficial gut bacteria is by prioritizing a balanced diet every time you make your food choices.
What constitutes a balanced diet? While specific dietary needs may differ depending on factors like age(teenager versus senior over 60), gender, activity level, and health status, generally, a balanced diet is one that includes a variety of nutrient-rich food from all the major food groups. For example, a meal consisting of grilled chicken breast, brown rice, roasted vegetables, and a mixed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing means eating a meal that has protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats respectively.
Still, it’s a good idea to consult a dietician for a tailored meal plan.
Often called “good” bacteria, probiotics earned this adjective by further helping to restore and maintain the beneficial microorganisms in the gut. Plus, these “friendly” bacteria have been linked to not just immune system support but also improved mental health.
Probiotics can be found naturally in a number of fermented foods: yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, etc. Alternatively, probiotic supplements – tablets, capsules, powders, liquids – are also an option. It’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional for this as well because there are different strains for different needs.
Yes, yet another adverse effect of stress is negatively impacting gut health by not just negatively disrupting the balance of gut microbiomes, but also increase inflammation, and altering digestive function.
So it’s a good thing there are plenty of strategies to minimize stress. Such as:
- Practicing relaxation techniques – meditation, yoga
- Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night
- Regular physical activity
- Managing workload and responsibilities
Of course, one of the easiest ways to improve your gut health is by simply staying hydrated because it means bowel regularity, better nutrient absorption, better digestion, reduced inflammation, etc.
To stay hydrated, you want to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. Then, you can kick things up a notch by eating water-rich food like fruit and drinking herbal tea.
A healthy gut is vital for overall health so try to improve through actions like eating a balanced diet, increasing probiotic intake, minimizing stress, and staying hydrated.