How can you improve your gut health? (Part 3 of 3)
Your gut health is controlled by the changes in stomach acid, the ecosystem of bacteria in your stomach, and the gut immunity. We have already looked into Why gut health is important and why people have poor gut health. If your gut health is good, chances of experiencing gut inflammation and immunity lapses are quite low. So how can you maintain a healthy gut flora, increase the good gut bacteria, and overall give your gut a healthy boost? Diet as well as other healthy practices are important factors that will impact your gut health. Keep reading to discover the different ways to protect your digestive system and improve overall gut health:
Follow a plant based diet - Maintain a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, which will provide you with all essential vitamins and fibres that will help build good bacteria in your gut. A good practice is to consume more than 40g of fibre everyday. Fibre consumption is linked to reduce heart problems, reduce weight gain and fight against some cancer causing cells. Fibre rich vegetables such as artichokes, onions, leeks and garlic, all contain high levels of inulin, which is a prebiotic fibre. Also include in your diet fermented foods such as Kimchi, Kefir, Sauerkraut and soybean based products, which are rich in probiotics containing live microbes.
Increase the intake of polyphenols in your diet - Polyphenols, such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, berries, green tea, etc, are antioxidants that function as fuel for microbes.
Get your beauty sleep - Try and go to bed early and get 7 hours of sleep every day. Not getting enough sleep is known to contribute towards obesity, which can further cause problems in your digestive system.
Exercise often to stay healthy and maintain a healthy body weight, which will reduce the occurrence of problems in your digestive system
Reduce stress - Stress directly contributes to heartburn and other ill effects in your body. Relaxation & distraction techniques can be used to manage stress.
Reduce snacking between meals - Give your microbes some rest, by reducing snacking and increasing the intervals between meals. It is also good to occasionally skip a meal or go on a small detox diet.
Avoid processed foods & artificial sweeteners as they upset the microbes’ metabolism and reduce the gut diversity.
Avoid antibiotics & other non essential medicines - Unless you really need them, try and avoid antibiotics as they destroy both good and bad gut bacteria. If you are on antibiotics, make sure you consume lots of foods that will boost your microbiomes. It is also observed that painkillers can alter the gut microbiome and upset the stomach.
Manage Alcohol Consumption - Too much alcohol affects the gut barrier and also influences the speed at which food is digested. Alcohol can increase the amplitude of pathogenic microbes, and is linked to cause bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. Overall, reducing your alcohol intake is good for your health, but you don’t have to completely cut down on alcohol. Small quantities of alcohol can be good for you as it contains polyphenols and antioxidants.
Avoid Crash Diets - In most cases, crash diets are followed for quick and easy weight loss without considering the risks and potential long term consequences it can have on your health. You should be wary of the fact that following these restrictive diets can disrupt your gut microbiome as it disturbs the sensitive gut ecosystem.