The importance of gut health has been well documented in recent times. Studies have shown links between the gut and all sorts of different issues, from immune system function and mental health, to autoimmune diseases and cancer.
About 100 trillion bacteria live in the digestive system. So, how do you ensure you have enough of the good vatiety? Here are some tips to improve gut health.
Eat probiotic foods
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria you want living in your gut. They work wonders, from improving digestive health to reducing depression.
Foods that are loaded with probiotics include yoghurt (opt for one with active or live cultures), pickles, kombucha, miso, kimchi and tempeh. Other great gut health foods can be found here.
You may also like to consider using probiotic gut health supplements. It’s a good idea to do your homework to find one that’s right for you.
Ensure you’re getting enough prebiotic foods
The “good” bacteria in your gut need something to feed off – that’s where prebiotic foods come in. Prebiotics are a special type of dietary fibre that promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut.
Examples of prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, apples and cocoa. You can find more helpful tips about prebiotic gut health foods here.
Keep your stress levels in check
We all know stress isn’t good for us, but did you know it can have an impact on your gut health?
In the short-term, stress can reduce your appetite and slow your digestion. In the long-term, stress can have more serious implications, including irritable bowel syndrome and gastrointestinal issues.
The moral of the story is to reduce your stress levels for the benefit of your gut. Here are some great tips to reduce stress.
Get enough sleep and exercise
Research has shown not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your gut health. If you want to improve your gut health, make sleep a priority. Aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night.
There’s research to suggest that getting plenty of exercise can also be beneficial to gut health, which may in turn help control obesity.
Keep fluids up
In addition to consuming gut health foods, drinking enough water is also important to your gut health. Water is essential for good digestion and helps promote a healthy balance of friendly bacteria in the gut. Aim to consume at least 2L a day.
Cut down on sugar to improve gut health
Sugary foods and artificial sweeteners can be detrimental to your gut health, as they may cause an imbalance of gut microbes.
A 2015 study in animals found that the standard Western diet, which is typically high in sugar and fat, negatively affected gut health. Another animal study concluded the artificial sweetener aspartame increased the number of certain bacterial strains that are linked with metabolic disease.
Cut down on artificial sweeteners and sugar where possible to improve gut health.
Only take antibiotics if absolutely necessary
Antibiotics can wreak havoc on your good bacteria. What’s frightening is that research has found the effects on beneficial bacteria can be evident even six months after their use.
Only use antibiotics when prescribed by your doctor and it’s absolutely necessary.