Your digestive system is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. It impacts almost every aspect of your health including immunity, brain health, heart health and hormonal balance. The digestive system, also called the gut, greatly depends upon the balance of the microbiome that resides within it, where trillions of flora live and work to keep you healthy. But what is gut health?
Gut Health Explained
Gut health refers to the health or balance of your digestive tract and the microbiome that thrives in it. A healthy digestive tract easily breaks down and digests food as healthy bacteria and immune cells of the microbiome work to combat unhealthier bacteria, virus and fungi.
An unhealthy gut, on the other hand, can lead to long-term disease if left unchecked. Signs of an unhealthy gut include:
An unhealthy microbiome is the result when unfriendly pathogens overtake the healthier flora. If an imbalance is allowed to continue, it can lead to other health issues like fatigue, weight gain and illness. Luckily, lifestyle factors that are in our control can improve gut and digestive health.
What Affects Gut Health?
Some things that interfere with gut health include stress and medications like antibiotics. In addition, an unhealthy diet that relies on highly processed foods can quickly throw off balance and allow unhealthy pathogens to thrive. To counteract this, avoid foods that are high in sugar, highly processed foods, artificial sweeteners and fried foods.
Making small changes such as incorporating daily exercise and stress management can help bring your gut back into balance. But the most helpful change you can make is to incorporate a wholesome diet to promote healthy flora in your digestive tract, which can help restore digestive balance.
Gut Health Foods
To promote gut health, incorporate foods that are known to improve the balance of your microbiome such as fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes. These types of foods provide the nutrients, enzymes and fibers that promote beneficial bacteria to thrive. Some of the most gut friendly foods include raspberries, green peas, chickpeas, lentils and whole grains.
Fermented foods are a favorite for improving gut health, as they contain lactobacilli, a healthy bacteria that improve microbiota balance. Some of these include:
Also include prebiotic foods, as well, which promote healthy microbes with fiber and complex carbohydrates that provide fuel for healthy bacteria. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are foods that can promote gut health by promoting the microbe called bifidobacteria, which can ward of internal inflammation and promote healthy weight.
Gut Health Diet
Incorporating a gut health diet is easy if you focus on whole foods and keep junk foods, fast foods and fried foods to a minimum. The following tips can help you incorporate a diet for optimal gut health:
- Plan your meals around plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- Do not overeat proteins
- Consume fermented foods that promote healthy microbes
- Choose healthy fats like olive oil
- Avoid fried foods and highly processed foods
- Drink plenty of water each day
- Avoid too much caffeine
Keep your gut healthy to improve your overall health and fitness levels. And remember that healthy digestion will also provide energy, so you can feel your best all the time.