Our gut is one of our most important organs as it handles our nutritional system, so it only makes sense that gut health is one of the most important factors to keep in mind for a healthy body. Gut health has to do with our digestive systems, so consider good habits such as implementing a healthy diet in moderation of some more harmful foods and incorporating physical activity in our daily lives. A problematic gut can lead to many problems, ranging from more minor issues, such as an upset stomach, to more significant complications, like weight fluctuation and irritable skin. Thankfully, there are a number of natural remedies that are easy and simple to include in our lifestyle and don't require buying high-priced supplements. Below are seven proven methods to help regulate your gut health with as little complication and cost as possible.
1. Mindful Eating
An ideally healthy gut requires a regular intake of various bacteria, which we can obtain by eating a healthy range of foods. An average person's diet nowadays is remarkably lacking in diversity and consists mainly of sweeteners and fats, which can often be detrimental to gut health. We can ensure a healthy diet by ensuring our food has plenty of vegetables and fruits, which are plentiful with fiber. Fiber causes healthy changes in our guts and should be given significance in our diets. Fermented foods are also beneficial to overall gut health, as these foods go through a process in which various bacteria break down the sugars in them. Natto, kefir, and yogurt are some fermented foods that should be included in our diets. Other foods proven to be helpful for gut health are whole grains and prebiotics, which contain non-digestible or complex carbs that encourage the growth of favorable bacteria in our guts.
2. Careful Eating
Eating more carefully and staying aware of what we put in our bodies is a substantial part of gut health. In addition to knowing what foods to eat, we should also remember what common mainstays in regular diets are harmful to our gut health. Regular consumption of alcohol is associated with various gut issues such as gastritis and intestinal inflammation, both of which can be excessively harmful to the gut in the long term and lead to infections, heartburn, and chronic discomfort. Artificial sweeteners showcase adverse effects on the gut and the microbiome, such as high blood sugar levels. Fried foods have been proven harmful to microbes and can cause inflammation.
Similarly, foods with excessive amounts of saturated fat also interfere with the normal functioning of microbes in the gut and cause inflammation. Refined grains are often eaten instead of whole grains despite being nearly empty of fiber and other essential and helpful nutrients. Removing these foods from regular eating and adding better options hugely benefit gut health.
3. Better Sleep Habits
Taking better care of your sleep hygiene and sleeping more, in general, is one of the best-proven methods to better your gut health. There are many ways in which a lack of sleep damages our guts and health, such as how it affects our hormonal functions in negative ways. The hormones that control our hunger and appetite can malfunction and lead to a heightened appetite. In addition, when we feel tired, we tend to eat foods more concentrated in concentrated carbs, fats, and sugars which have been proven to affect gut health adversely. A lack of sleep also leads to a deficiency in melatonin, an essential hormone for gastrointestinal mobility. A scarcity of melatonin can also cause a disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. It's not an exaggeration to say that good sleep and gut health are highly correlated. Good sleep leads to good gut health and vice versa, as an unhealthy gut causes bad sleep too.
4. Stress Management
The gut and brain are very closely interconnected, so much so that scientists often discuss the "gut-brain connection." This is why we often feel "butterflies" in our stomachs when we're anxious; emotions sometimes are felt in our guts. The gut is even referred to as "the second brain," so it goes without saying that any time a person's mental health is suboptimal, it harms the gut. The research on their relationship shows that anxiety and depression can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, and vice versa. Increased stress also leads to increased cortisol production, which reduces acidity in the stomach. While the research regarding this relationship is far from complete, we know that managing stress by doing relaxing activities like meditating, walking, and sleeping more is hugely beneficial for gut health and helps mitigate issues such as constipation and diarrhea.
Movement is medicine and key to improving health in many different ways. Gut health is no exception; even light aerobic exercise and low-intensity workouts can help get a healthier gut. When we think of exercise, we tend to think of the gym and weights, which can be stressful, but some regular cardiovascular at home a few times a week is all you need. Taking a jog, jumping rope, or walking briskly can make a positive difference. These activities increase our heart rates and lead to better blood flow, which are the conditions suitable for the bacteria in our microbiomes. In general, athletes also show better gut microbial diversity than sedentary people. Exercise can also indirectly help as it reduces stress, burns fat, and aids in sleeping better.
6. Colorful Diet
Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, but what's better than sticking to a single nutrient? The answer is incorporating a diverse range of nutrients, fiber, minerals, and protein on your plate. Gut health is all about eating and hydration, so it's important that you ensure that everything you consume provides more benefits than harm.
Most plant-based foods contain polyphenols, and since your intestines do not readily absorb the compounds, they move to the large intestine, where most of the gut bacteria reside.
In your large intestine, microbes feed on polyphenols and convert them into bioactive compounds.
The convulsion we can draw from this is that having more polyphenol-containing vegetables and fruits will help keep your gut microbiome healthy and happy.
7. Plenty of nuts and seeds
If fruits are not your style, you can consume them in the form of dry fruits or nuts and seeds. They are also an excellent source of polyphenols and fiber and contain healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Scientists have discovered that an omega-3-rich diet is linked to a diverse gut microbiome, which clearly indicates a healthy gut microbiome.
Some additional benefits of nuts and seeds are improving cardiovascular health and reducing blood sugar spikes upon consuming carbs.
It is vital for your gut as well as overall health to eat mindfully and avoid foods that can potentially harm your body. Regular consumption of alcohol or foods that are excessively sweet can be detrimental to your gut health and may cause you problems as you grow older, so it's a good idea to avoid or limit them. A proper sleep schedule needs to be maintained along with regular exercise. Stress is also a contributor, so try engaging in activities that lower your cortisol levels and help you improve your overall