Your stomach controls everything. From skin health, sex drive, reproductive health, hormones, mood, brain health, and immune system; practically everything depends on the gut health.
The gut works via the ENS (Enteric nervous system) whose main purpose is to regulate digestion. But, it also has commutative pathways with the brain through which it controls the overall physical and mental well being.
It’s when the gut health goes out of whack that you start experiencing all kinds of health troubles.
But, what’s the foundation of gut health? Well, it’s the trillions of tiny bacteria that break down the food so your body can absorb nutrition. An unhealthy gut is the one with an imbalance of gut microbiota. It has an overgrowth of bad bacteria and lacks the good microbes.
Below are a few ways in which you can restore the balance of the gut microbiota.
5 Promising Ways to Improve Gut Health:
- Eat Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
Fibre, fibre, fibre! A common factor among people who complain of digestive issues and an unhealthy gut is a lack of dietary fibre. If you are not consuming the recommended fibre intake every day, it’s a good time to start adding your favourite fruits and vegetables. But, you should pay attention to a few things –
- Go slow while adding fibre to your diet. Too much fibre initially can make you feel bloated and gassy. Going slow will get your gut accustomed to fibre.
- Avoid excessively raw vegetables as they can cause constipation and may even exacerbate some health issues. It’s better if the vegetables are lightly boiled or sauted or cooked in some form.
- Last but not least – eat only seasonal and locally grown foods.
- Eat Only When Your Stomach Demands
Do you often feel bloated and suffer from water retention? Chances are you’re probably overeating or eating when you’re not hungry. Wait until you feel strong pangs of hunger. It’s only when the stomach is empty that the digestive enzymes can break down the food.
Stop eating when you start to hit the satiety levels. It also pays to consume small portions and eat them calmly and slowly. The setting in which you eat is also super important. Make sure that you are feeling calm when eating. Ayurveda recommends chewing your food properly so that it gets easier on the stomach to move and break it down.
- Avoid Antibiotics Unnecessarily
Of course, you cannot avoid antibiotics forever. You do need them to fight certain bacterial infections. However, prolonged usage (especially unnecessary) of antibiotics can lead to significant health concerns since it kills off the good bacteria. Overprescription of antibiotics is now a major public health concern.
According to the CDC, “around 30% of the antibiotics that doctors in the US prescribe are unnecessary.”
Some studies show that the gut continues to lack the necessary specifics of the good bacteria even after six months of their usage. If possible, go the herbal/organic route to fix your health concerns. Try to avoid antibiotics as much as possible.
- Eat Plenty of Fermented Foods Containing Live Microbes
Fermented foods, aka probiotics, are THE best way to support gut health. Cultured vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir (fermented drinks), miso, and yoghurt are all excellent probiotic-rich foods. They are rich in live gut-friendly bacteria.
In addition to consuming probiotics that carry strains of good bacteria; you should also eat fibre rich foods. Think – oats, flaxseeds, bananas, asparagus, celery, artichoke, etc. These fibrous foods feed the good bacteria so they can function better.
Some foods may work better for you than others. The key is to experiment with it and also stick with a variety of foods. A typical American diet is heavy on the processed foods that are heavily devoid of the natural bacteria. It also lacks proper nutrition that the body needs.
Although there’s nothing quite like food sources to replenish what the gut is lacking, you can also try supplementing as insurance.
- Exercise Regularly, Avoid Stress and Sleep Well
Exercise not only strengths the stomach muscles, but it also enhances and nourishes the gut flora. It enriches the diversity of the bacterial species, thus improving the overall gut health. Let’s not forget exercise also makes you feel better due to the endorphins release. Exercise promotes gut movement as well.
Mild exercising is also excellent for when you’re feeling bloated. It will also improve the quality of sleep, which is closely linked with your circadian rhythm and stress levels. Speaking of which, you should also avoid stress at all costs.
Stress can overstimulate your intensity and cause all kinds of digestive issues like constipation and diarrhoea. It can also cause adrenal fatigue and burnout. Avoid overstimulation or watching violent shows and news. Try to stay happy as much as possible.
Sometimes, gut issues become so chronic that natural remedies or even drastically changing the diet may not work. In that case, medical intervention may be necessary. If the problem continues to persist, it’s possible that you have some underlying medical condition. Your doctor will best tell you more in that regard.