Maintaining a healthy gut is important not just for your gut but your entire body. There are trillions of bacteria located in your intestine known as the gut microbiota. But this is not to say that all the bacteria in your intestine are bad for your health. Certain bacterias are good for proper digestion.
The major way to improve your gut is to eat the right foods that encourage good gut health. We will look at seven foods and practices that encourage good bacteria.
1. Eat Legumes, Beans, Vegetables, and Fruits
Legumes and beans are great sources of fiber that are very important for your gut health. However, vegetables and fruits are your best bet when it comes to getting the right nutrients for your gut health. Some foods that are high in fiber include: broccoli, raspberries, chickpeas, green peas, artichokes, and lentils. Pinto, white, and kidney beans, as well as whole grains, are also good choices.
Vegetables and fruits like artichokes, apples, pistachios, and almonds all cultivate Bifidobacteria which is a beneficial bacteria that guards against intestinal inflammation and prevents bad bacteria from growing in the gut. You can also take supplements designed specially for gut health.
2. Consume Fewer Sweeteners and Sugar
Consuming lots of sweeteners and sugar from artificial food can cause some imbalance in your gut bacteria. A study that was conducted on animals showed that eating a diet high in fat and sugar negatively affected the animals’ gut microbiome. It further showed that the brain, as well as behavior, could also be affected. In this study, aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener used in the replacement of sugar, increases bacteria strains linked to a metabolic disease that raises the chances of heart disease and diabetes.
3. Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods have been altered by microbes and involve the conversion of sugars contained in food into alcohol or organic acids. Good examples of fermented foods include – kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. They are rich in bacteria known as lactobacilli and very good for gut health. Yogurt consumption, in particular, has been shown to benefit the intestine and help in relieving symptoms of lactose intolerance. Some diseases that people suffer as a result of irritable bowel can be reduced with more consumption of yogurt. However, you should stay away from yogurt that is flavored with artificial sweeteners and sugars. Opt for natural and plain yogurt which you can sweeten with fresh fruits.
4. Manage and Reduce Stress
Stress is inevitable, but it is important to get under control since it affects your gut health as well as your general health. In animals, it was discovered that psychological stressors have a way of disrupting microorganisms found in the intestine no matter how short-lived the stress was. A variety of stressors in humans have been found to negatively affect the gut, including sleep deprivation, psychological stress, circadian rhythm disruption, and environmental stress.
You can effectively manage stress by practicing deep breathing exercises, meditating, and working on muscle relaxation. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy diet also help manage your stress.
5. Consume Whole Grains
Whole grains are good sources of non-digestible carbs and fiber-like beta-glucan. Although they pass through the small intestine, they are processed in the large intestine where the microbiota breaks them down to encourage the production of beneficial bacteria. Apart from improving gut health, whole grains give the feeling of fullness and help reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation.
6. Regular Exercise
There is no dispute about the benefits of being involved in regular exercise. Not only does it contribute to a healthy heart, but it also encourages weight loss, which has its own health benefits. Good gut health, according to research, has been shown to reduce the chances of obesity. This is not surprising as a study that compared the gut flora of athletes with nonathletes showed that athletes had more good bacteria than those who weren’t athletes.
The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes a week. That should also be paired with muscle-strengthening at least two times a week.
7. Take Probiotics
Probiotics are bacteria that contain some health benefits. They work by altering the microbiota composition and metabolism support for better health. Probiotics may not have a huge impact on the gut microbiota of healthy people, but it has been shown to be helpful when certain diseases are present in the gut. Probiotics can be taken as an over the counter supplement available at any good pharmacy.
Your gut is a very vital part of your body and therefore deserves all the help it can get. Failure to properly care for it can affect other vital organs in the body. Form a habit of getting regular exercise, eating a good diet, taking probiotic supplements, and following the other tips we mentioned in this article for a healthier gut.