The gut is sometimes referred to as your “second brain” because there is such a strong connection between your gut, your mental health, and your physical health. Your gut health has a profound effect on your overall health and should be given more recognition. If you’re ready to tackle your gut health once and for all, follow these 10 easy everyday habits to improve your gut health.
Digestion is a major function that is impacted by your gut health. The bacteria in your gut help you digest all food you ingest, especially fiber.
Your metabolism and immune system are greatly affected by gut health. An unhealthy gut increases your risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Bacteria from foods like red meat and eggs can contribute to the buildup of cholesterol in your blood vessels (no thank you!).
You might be surprised to learn that your mental and emotional health is also connected to the health of your gut. Serotonin and other “happy hormones” are produced in your gut and are regulated by gut bacteria. This is important because these hormones play a direct role in preventing issues like anxiety and depression.
If you’re interested in improving the health of your gut, it’s best to think like a caveman. No, really! The way our ancestors ate was actually the best way to keep our microbiome healthy. Think about it, they did eat meat daily, their diet mainly consisted of a wide variety of fruits and veggies, and they ate what was in season and locally grown. Keep reading for 10 easy everyday habits to improve your gut health.
You’ve probably seen commercials for probiotics, but do you know exactly what they do? Probiotics are good bacteria that help your gut grow good bacteria and keep it in a healthy balance. Taking probiotics is most helpful if your gut health has been compromised from things like taking antibiotics, making poor dietary decisions for long periods of time, autoimmune disorders, or an illness.
If you want to strengthen your immune system, regulate your sugar and carbohydrate cravings, and treat candida then you should definitely incorporate more fermented foods into your diet. In addition to these benefits, foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, and tempeh also form a protective lining in your intestines that protects it from disease.
As if fruits, veggies, and leafy greens weren’t already awesome enough, now you have even more of a reason to love them. Research studies have shown that when people eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables that they actually have less disease-causing bacteria growing in their gut. Crazy, right?
These foods naturally contain prebiotics and super important vitamins and minerals. Eating foods that naturally contain these nutrients is important because your body gets them in the most biologically available form versus getting them through expensive supplements.
Eating whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, couscous, organic corn, and whole wheat is an important habit to improve your gut health. These grains promote the growth of helpful bacteria in your large intestine. Other benefits include reduced inflammation in the body, a feeling of fullness, and possible reduction of heart disease.
Obviously, choosing to put healthy foods into your gut will have a positive impact on your gut health. If you focus on eating whole, healthy foods for 80% of the time and allowing yourself to indulge in something not as healthy about 20% of the time then your gut health will be safe.
How much you chew your food can also have an impact on the bacteria in your gut. If you swallow your food without chewing it up very well your stomach will have a difficult time breaking down the food. Your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine will be unable to absorb as many nutrients from that carrot you just ate if it can’t break it down as well.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine of eating the same things day in and day out. You know what you like (or what your kids will eat) and it’s just easier to stick with what’s familiar. Eating a more diverse diet, however, can greatly improve your gut health.
Diversify your diet by picking up a new fruit or vegetable to try at the grocery store, focus on foods that are in season, and choose to buy your produce locally. Step out of your comfort zone by trying new recipes from other countries that you’ve never had before. A varied selection of food will give you more diverse bacteria in your gut.
You’ve heard of probiotics, but what about prebiotics? Prebiotics are food that promotes the growth of good bacteria by feeding the bacteria in your gut. Fiber or complex carbs are usually a good place to find prebiotics as well as fruits and vegetables. Prebiotics has also been shown to lower insulin levels as well as cholesterol levels of people who are overweight.
Surprise, surprise- exercise has even more benefits to it! Moving your body regularly has been found to reverse gut imbalances that come from obesity. Not only that, it can even increase the diversity of bacteria in your microbiome.
The chemical household cleaners you use to clean your home are good at killing harmful bacteria, but unfortunately, it’s also killing the good bacteria! Exposing your body to naturally occurring bacteria is important for building a strong immune system and microbiome. When you kill off those beneficial bacteria with chemicals your body your gut health suffers.
Instead of cleaning your house with chemical cleaners, go for cleaners made with ingredients like baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, etc. Your gut will thank you.
It might sound counterintuitive, but exposing yourself to germs found in nature can actually boost your immune system and improve your gut health. When you come in contact with the earth, meaning dirt, grass, etc., you are exposed to trillions of microorganisms. Think of the diversity that can bring to your microbiome!
Looking at all aspects of your daily lifestyle is important when evaluating your gut health. Other things like stress levels, caffeine and alcohol consumptions, and getting enough sleep also have a huge impact on your gut. Change won’t happen overnight, but if you’re consistent you can have a happy, healthy gut and, in turn, a happy, healthy body.