Having poor gut health affects not only our digestion but also our quality of sleep, mental health, and even skin health. Gut health has a significant effect on our overall health and well-being. It is vital to keep our gut healthy and improve it when necessary. Find below research-backed tips to help improve your gut health.
Importance of Gut Health
There is a large amount of evidence showing that bad gut health can lead to a variety of conditions. There are links between gut health and the following:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Neurological diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
Improving your gut health can help prevent these and other health conditions.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Signs of an unhealthy gut include:
High Sugar Diet
A diet high in added sugars and processed foods decreases the amount of good bacteria in your microbiome. This may lead to inflammation which can eventually lead to several diseases.
Unintentional Weight Changes
Gaining or losing weight without a change to your diet or exercise can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, absorb nutrients, and store fat.
Studies show that in imbalance in gut bacteria may cause sleep disturbances and constant fatigue.
Poor gut health can impact the body’s immune system. This may lead to conditions that affect the organs, including the skin such as psoriasis, which may be related to the types of bacteria present in the gut.
Food intolerance is the difficulty digesting certain foods, different from a food allergy which is caused by an immune system reaction to certain foods. Research shows food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, may be caused by poor-quality bacteria in the gut.
Improve Gut Health Naturally
One of the best ways to improve your gut health is through food, evidence shows there is a correlation between the quality of your diet and your gut health. Diets that are high in fiber (it’s recommended to have a minimum of 35g of fiber daily) and prebiotics support a more diverse microbiome (the microorganisms living in your intestines) which is one of the most important things when it comes to good overall health.
Your gut is part of an incredibly complex system and no one food or supplement can heal it. Healing your gut takes more than just changing your diet, however, a great way to begin is to focus on replenishing your microbiome. This can be done by including probiotic foods in your diet as they are rich in good bacteria that your gut needs for good health. These foods include :
- Extra virgin olive oil
There are also foods that have a negative impact on your gut such as:
- Fizzy drinks
- Factory-farmed meat
- Saturated fats
- Processed foods – crisps, white bread, sweets, etc.
Eating processed foods can lead to gut dysbiosis, which can lead to inflammation and other health problems.
Try to limit sugary foods as they can cause an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in your gut. Also, steer clear of artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and stevia as they have been shown to disrupt the composition of our gut microbiota.
Probiotic supplements are another excellent way to improve the health of your gut. Probiotics are essential when it comes to your gut health, research shows they can significantly improve your gut health, along with your immune and reproductive systems.
As said above improving gut health is not only to do with your diet. Evidence shows adding regular exercise to your daily routine is a great way to optimise your gut health.
Drinking plenty of water can be linked to increased diversity in your gut. A study in 2022 showed people who drank more water had less of the bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal infections. Staying hydrated is essential for our overall health and can help prevent constipation.
Studies show stress can damage your microbiome, and an increase in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) can change your microbiome. Be aware of your stress levels and try to minimise them as much as you can. You can do this through meditation, walking, spending time with loved ones, or breathing exercises.
To no surprise, alcohol won’t improve your gut health. Having a glass of wine now and again won’t cause any significant damage to your gut, however, excess alcohol consumption can damage your microbiome and result in Leaky Gut.
Antibiotics can save your life, but if overused can be harmful to your gut. Try to avoid using antibiotics unless they are necessary and prescribed by a doctor.
Evidence shows smoking damages the microbiome and giving up is a great way to improve your gut health.
When it comes to our overall health sleep is always a main factor. Research has found that good quality sleep helps with microbiome diversity. Try to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. If you have trouble sleeping your doctor may be able to help.
When it comes to gut health, everyone is different. We all have different microbiomes and what works for one person might not work for another. However, there are some general rules that help almost everyone. Try these tips to improve your gut and see which works best for you.
- Diversify your diet
- Try probiotic foods and supplements
- Limit process food
- Limit sugar
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
- Exercise sensible
- Manage your stress levels
- Minimise alcohol
- Only take antibiotics when necessary
- Quit smoking
- Get enough sleep
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