Your gut, or gastrointestinal tract, contains trillions of bacteria. These microorganisms are not only necessary for the health of your digestive tract, but research has shown that your gut health is a significant factor in your overall health as well. This is primarily because the environment within your gut (the balance of good and bad bacteria) contributes to how your body manages its metabolism, produces and processes vitamins, and balances its immune response.
What Happens When Your Gut is Out of Balance?
A healthy digestive system is crucial in the body’s ability to function properly and in managing inflammation. When your gut or microbiome is out of balance, it may cause characteristic digestive issues such as gas, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. It may also manifest in more chronic inflammatory conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or Chrohn’s disease. However, dysfunction within the gut can also lead to concerns that are not necessarily related to the digestive tract at all, including:
- Joint pain
- Skin rashes
- Difficulty concentrating/brain fog
- Emotional issues and irritability
Ways to Naturally Improve Your Gut Health
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet is necessary for achieving optimal gut health. Concentrate on consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. Try to remove or cut down on processed foods and sugars and foods with harmful chemicals and toxins, as they may cause inflammation and an imbalance in your gut. Some have also found that eating certain herbs and spices, such as turmeric, may assist in healthy digestion due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Include prebiotics and probiotics
In addition to eating a balanced diet overall, prebiotics and probiotics may further help maintain proper balance within your digestive microbiome. Many nutritionists and doctors recommend both, as they serve different functions that work together for maximum effectiveness. While probiotics are beneficial bacteria, prebiotics are essentially the food that fuels the good bacteria. Although some prefer to take supplements, many foods are rich in both pre and probiotics.
- Foods rich in prebiotics typically include plentiful fiber foods such as:
- Beans, chickpeas, and other legumes
- Flax and chia seeds
- Fiber-rich vegetables such as artichoke, leeks, and asparagus
- Foods rich in probiotics include:
- Yogurt and kefir (with no added sugar)
- Apple cider vinegar
Maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial in digestive health. Whether it’s walking, running, yoga, or weight training—those who exercise regularly have been shown to have a healthier microbiome than those who lived more inactive lives. Regular exercise improves gut health, which improves the immune system and, therefore, helps us stay healthy. It’s common knowledge that exercise is wonderful for boosting your metabolism, maintaining an optimal weight, and improving your overall health—now, here’s an added bonus!
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