Over the past two decades, studies have found that gut health relates to many other process systems in the body, sky-rocketing its importance in current health conversations. We now know that a healthy gut connects to practically every facet of our health, including the brain, heart and more.
The gut includes hundreds of different bacteria that live in your intestines. This is referred to as the gut microbiome. Some species of bacteria are beneficial, while others have been proven harmful to our overall health.
Signs of an unhealthy gut include:
- Skin irritations such as eczema
- Poor sleep or constantly feeling fatigued
- Unintentional weight fluctuation
- Craving a high-sugar diet
- Developing otherwise unexplainable food intolerances
A balanced gut will thank you by:
- Easily eliminating waste
- Processing common food allergens without problem
- Improving brain and mood health
- Preventing some cancers and autoimmune diseases
- Combating obesity
The good news is that we can control the effects of bacteria in our biome based on how we treat our bodies. Here are a few ways to increase and/or maintain good gut health:
Eat a low-processed diet: Consuming a majority of lean protein and plant-based foods as opposed to highly-processed, sugary foods reaps benefits on your gut’s ability to process waste. Studies have found that a high-fiber diet positively impacts the gut microbiome, helping eliminate waste more efficiently. Additionally, prebiotic and fermented foods nourish gut health by promoting good bacteria.
Get adequate sleep: Sleeping less than seven to eight hours a night can have serious consequences on your gut’s ability to do its job. Prioritize a good night’s sleep to help your body recuperate overnight and continue working at tip-top shape day after day.
Stay hydrated: While you’ve probably heard it before, drinking plenty of water is crucial to your body’s ability to function properly. Drinking forty ounces of water per day helps your gut maintain a balance of good bacteria and promotes overall function.
Simple lifestyle changes such as these can positively contribute to maintaining good gut health. Additionally, modifying your environment to decrease stress and getting regular exercise can also help regulate your intestinal processes. So get outside, play in the dirt and expose yourself to germs and bacteria (within reason)! These simple strategies help strengthen our gut biomes against bad bacteria and promote more of the good.
This article first appeared in the January 2020 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.