How to Improve Gut Health
Updated: Mar 2
How can we consistently keep our gut or our intestinal tract and its many bacterial inhabitants healthy? While research continues to put the pieces of the puzzle together, here are some safe, researched and practical tips that I have experimented with on my personal gut healing journey.
If you have landed here you most probably agree that the food we eat really does matter when it comes to having a thriving and healthy gut. Food choices we make on a daily basis can either support optimal gut health or contribute to a compromised immune system and all other gut-related health concerns, which can range from constipation or diarrhea to autoimmune disease, low mood and mental health issues, and increased skin breakouts.
As research is beginning to show, our gut and its many microbial inhabitants have a significant say on the quality of our thoughts – as well as our day-to-day health, and even longer term risk of developing disease.
So what are some of the important ways we can improve gut health?
1. Consume a variety of plant fibers
There are many types of fiber naturally found in plants. Each type may feed a different species. This may partly explain why eating a diverse array of vegetables is so consistently associated with better health. If you are unable to regularly consume vegetables, certain fiber supplements may help—just be sure they include an array of plant-sourced fibers. (Check out fermented organic gut superfoods+ a blend of 22 fermented superfoods and prebiotic fiber, Fermented and Whole Body Greens+
2. Make fermented probiotic foods your friend
Fermented foods like Kimchi and Miso or sauerkraut provide a great source of probiotics for gut health. Some of my favorite probiotic-rich food and drinks include Miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and full-fat, grass-fed Greek yogurt. If you don’t like any of these foods, try a supplement. Make sure that your supplement comes with a delayed-release capsule which helps ensure that the bacteria survive the acid in the stomach and reaches friendlier climates.
A side note on my three favorite fermented foods
So rich in live bacterial cultures, Kimchi is a traditional form of fermented cabbage that undergoes a similar fermentation process as sauerkraut; however, many additional ingredients are added to enhance flavor, taste, and nutritional value. The ingredients typically used in kimchi include cabbage, red bell pepper, garlic, onion, ginger, and salt.
This tasty wonderful food can prevent and address GI disorders and infections by supporting and balancing the gut microbiome. It contains many vitamins, digestive enzymes, fiber, and minerals and provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-aging properties.
Miso is a thick, salty-tasting paste made from fermented soybeans that have undergone fermentation with salt and koji, a type of starter fungus. Miso, used throughout Asia, is a traditional Japanese condiment that can be used in spreads, sauces, and broths. It contains probiotics and digestive enzymes such as lipase, protease, lactase, and amylase, which assist in the breakdown, digestion, and absorption of foods and nutrients. Miso also contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids. It is a suitable source of protein, particularly for vegetarians, vegans, and individuals following a plant-based diet.
Sauerkraut, meaning “sour cabbage” in German, is one of the oldest and most common methods of cabbage preservation. Sauerkraut has been a popular traditional food in Germany, Poland, and Russia for hundreds of years. It’s is made using shredded or sliced cabbage and salt. During the fermentation process, the salt pulls liquid from the cabbage and produces bacteria such as lactic acid bacteria. These live bacteria are responsible for the primary health benefits obtained from consuming sauerkraut. Sauerkraut provides anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties. In addition, cabbage is a source of several beneficial nutrients, including digestive enzymes, fiber, minerals, and vitamins such as vitamin C.
3. Avoid sugar and processed foods.
You have both good and bad bacteria living in your gut, and what you feed, you breed. By consuming processed grains and sugar, you’re feeding the bad bacteria, not the good guys. The increase of sugar- and grain-loving bacteria can cause an imbalance. Resulting in a change in the gut’s chemical response to foods. Hello Gas and Bloating…! On the other hand, consuming lots of dark leafy greens is a fantastic way to keep your good bacteria VIPs happy, while also providing enough micronutrients like minerals and vitamins essential for gut health. Learning to Read the Labels on packaged food one of the most important things I teach to avoid problematic ingredients. Here’s my article on Hidden sources of Sugar.
4. Eat the Rainbow regularly and try your best to go organic
Including all colors in your diet provides you with the richest concentrations of nutrients. Dark color foods are high in polyphenols, which are great for the gut. Polyphenols help to feed the bacteria living there, and provide antioxidant benefits, while also enhancing the quality of the mucosa. This mucous layer covering the internal lining of your intestines upon which your gut bacteria reside provides a protective layer and allows improved absorption of nutrients. Want your list of Clean 15 & Dirty 12 ?
5. Find ways to reduce and control your Stress
Managing my anxiety levels is one of the ways regular meditation over three years has helped me achieve. My indigestion symptoms such as constipation, bloating and pain have always been good indicators for me to start paying attention to my stress and its direct effect on my gut health. Acute bouts of stress such as public speaking can induce permeability of the gut lining, which is usually meant to flush out pathogens. There is no doubt that chronic stress can harm our health. We all have to find an effective way of dealing with stress regularly.
6. Move your body religiously
While it’s hard to believe that moving our bodies can influence the microbes living in our intestines, new evidence has shown us that exercise can independently alter the gut microbial ecosystem, independent of what we consume. One of the ways these bacteria are helpful is that they produce butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid. In the gut environment, butyrate is a powerful anti-inflammatory and may improve many aspects of health.
The primary role of the gut is to digest and absorb foods and excrete waste. A healthy gut and digestive system ensures that food is broken down properly, nutrients from the foods are being absorbed, and excess toxins and waste are excreted from the body. By implementing these simple ways into your routine you can improve the health of your gut so that all its functions are performed optimally and you prevent disease.
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It is my mission to help people get healthier around the world – so thank you for helping me!