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6 Ways to Improve Gut Health

gut microbiome
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How much do you know about your gut health? Although it’s the second largest organ in your body, there’s still quite a bit to learn about how it affects your overall health and how you can improve it through diet and exercise. Here are six ways to improve gut health and optimize your microbiome. You might be surprised at how many daily habits could be impacting this little-known part of your anatomy!

What is gut health?

Your gut is home to an array of bacteria, which scientists call your gut flora. In fact, our bodies are composed of trillions of cells; only 10 percent belong to us. The other 90 percent are bacteria. The ratio of good and bad bacteria affects everything from our weight to our sleep quality.

While there’s a lot we don’t know about how these microbes affect us, research has linked imbalances in gut flora with a number of diseases like diabetes and cancer. If you want help keeping your gut healthy, avoid antibiotics whenever possible as they can do more harm than good when it comes to messing with your microbiome—and remember that fermented foods play a vital role in helping keep your gut balanced.

Another great read: Top 5 Tips for Meal Prepping on a Budget

Good bacteria:

  • Lactococcus
  • Lactobacillus
  • Lactobacillus bifidus

Bad bacteria:

  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Staphylococcus
  • Escherichia coli

6 ways to improve your gut health

Add probiotics

The human gut is home to an expansive community of microbes that, collectively, form a group known as gut flora. These bacteria help digest food and synthesize vitamins, but they also play an important role in immune system functioning.

Unfortunately, research suggests these beneficial bacteria are killed off by antibiotics more often than many people realize. Probiotics can combat these effects; a 2013 study found that subjects who consumed probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt) after taking antibiotics had higher levels of good bacteria in their gut than those who didn’t consume any probiotics at all.

Here is a list of great probiotics:

Add prebiotics

One of your best weapons against leaky gut syndrome is taking a prebiotic. Prebiotics are non-digestible plant fibers that feed good bacteria in your gut. Examples include bananas, garlic, onions, and asparagus.

Probiotics (live microorganisms) and prebiotics work together for optimal digestion and immunity, so getting both can be beneficial. For example, if you’re taking a probiotic supplement with 10 billion live organisms per serving but aren’t eating foods like asparagus or other prebiotic sources on a regular basis—such as kefir or kimchi—you won’t get optimal benefit from your supplement.

Here are some of the best prebiotics:

Eat fermented foods

Eating foods like yogurt and sauerkraut—the kind packed with probiotics—helps improve your gut flora. Probiotics may help prevent leaky gut syndrome, which is associated with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. They also support a healthy microbiome, which can keep GI problems at bay by increasing digestive enzymes that break down food and maintaining immune health.

A healthy microbiome can contribute to increased energy levels, better mental well-being, weight loss, relief from chronic conditions such as arthritis or heart disease, and possibly even stronger bones.

Another great read: 10 Vitamins and Minerals That Support Cardiovascular Health

Eat less sugar

According to research, your gut microbiome is heavily influenced by your diet. Research shows that as little as 10 days of eating a high-sugar diet can change your gut microbiome for months.

To improve gut health and strengthen your immune system, it’s vital to start paying attention to what you eat. A moderate amount of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is always a good starting point; add in some fiber and plenty of vegetables—preferably organic—and you’ll be on track for promoting gut health. Rather than looking at foods from an isolated standpoint, take note of how certain foods make you feel after eating them; a healthy (or unhealthy) gut may be revealed through regularity or irregularity in bowel movements.

You can learn more about healthy eating and dieting using the Nutrition2change Guide to Healthy Eating that’s been written by a nutritionist with the desire to help people improve their health and strengthen their immune system.

Avoid gluten

Eating foods with gluten in them can worsen any gut problems you may have and cause further issues. Gluten, which is a protein found in many grains, has been linked to digestive disorders like celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

If you have these conditions or suspect that you do, avoid all wheat products for a month and see how your stomach feels. It’s also important to know that not all sources of wheat are considered harmful for your gut microbiome—you should avoid bread if it contains high fructose corn syrup or if it has preservatives and refined carbohydrates but eating foods like whole-wheat pasta is fine since it’s higher in fiber than white pasta.

Use herbs, such as oregano oil

Our gut microbiome is often referred to as our second brain. A healthy gut contains hundreds of trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. In fact, studies have shown that there are more than 100 trillion bacteria in a single gram of human feces.

Fortunately, science has proven that herbs such as oregano oil can help improve your digestion and overall gut health—giving you better body composition and enhanced wellness! So don’t forget about your bowels when you’re looking for ways to optimize your health!

Summary

There are trillions of microbes living in your gut that play a huge role in keeping you healthy. Studies have linked everything from obesity and autoimmune disorders to chronic digestive issues and even cancer with changes in your gut microbiome.

Good news: You can improve your gut health by consuming prebiotics, probiotics, and fermentable fibers—or following a natural diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods. To learn more about how you can improve your gut health—and why it’s so important—check out the Gut Health 101 guide.

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