There is nothing more important than your gut health. Although you might not be aware of it, your body is full of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The National Institutes of Health estimates that the number of microorganisms is ten times the number of human cells in your body. They don’t weigh much, and as a result, they are responsible for around 2% of your total weight.
However, although you might instinctively think of bacteria as “intruders,” they actually play an important role in your body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects your mood and motivation, Did you know that roughly 90% of it is produced in your gut? That’s only one of many reasons why you should take great care of it. Healthy gut bacteria can help you lose weight, improve your cognitive performance, or even minimize the symptoms of depression.
Why Is Gut Health So Important?
Let us start by explaining what a gut microbiome is. As we mentioned, your gut is home to a large number of organisms. There are hundreds of different bacteria species that could reside in your intestines, though not everyone has the same species. That’s because our diet differs, which has a direct result on the composition of the microbiome.
Apart from the beneficial bacteria, there are also those that affect your body in a negative way. However, it’s normal to have both types of bacteria in your gut, as long as the number of the latter isn’t too large. Below you will find our tips on how to improve gut health.
Diet Rich in Polyphenols
Studies have shown, eating foods rich in polyphenols can help lower your blood pressure, lose weight, or even avoid cardiovascular diseases. It is worth noting that the human body cannot digest polyphenols, though it’s actually great news. That’s because the beneficial bacteria living in your intestines will feed on them, which will result in healthier gut microbiota.
Foods that are great sources of polyphenols include onions, almonds and dark chocolate, the higher the cocoa content, the better. Alternatively, if you don’t want to change your diet, you could try your luck with supplements from primalharvest.com.
Fiber Is Your Friend
There’s a chance you’ve already been told you’re not eating enough fiber. Research shows that high-fiber foods can also improve your gut health. Why? The reasoning is pretty similar to the one that applied to polyphenols – fiber isn’t digested by your body, meaning the gut bacteria will benefit from it.
Increase your fiber intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. This way, you’ll help the beneficial bacteria thrive while limiting the growth of harmful bacteria.
Eat More Spices
The world without spices would be too bland to stomach. However, spices are not limited to improving the taste of food. Scientists have discovered that spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg, can be extremely beneficial for your gut bacteria.
Ginger is a great antioxidant, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and is often used for treating digestive problems. In addition, it can prevent the formation of ulcers and stop the growth of harmful bacteria.
Cinnamon is helpful when struggling with bad cholesterol. Studies have shown that it can also help your body with sugar metabolism. Similarly to ginger, cinnamon prevents certain types of bad bacteria from multiplying, which is beneficial for your gut health.
Cardamom is another excellent antioxidant that can be beneficial. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties and helping health problems like acid reflux or diarrhea. On top of that, it slows down the growth of some types of harmful gut bacteria and fungi.
Nutmeg’s properties most notably include the inhibition of growth of the bacteria that could lead to potentially fatal consequences. Apart from that, nutmeg can also be helpful when it comes to the management of bad cholesterol.
Try Fermented Foods
Depending on where you live fermented foods might be a staple, or you may be shocked to learn that people actually eat them. Why would someone eat sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir? Even more – why are millions of people eating these foods every single day?
It’s true when you taste kimchi for the first time your senses might be overwhelmed, trust us – it’s worth trying! Apart from being a great source of vitamins, fermented foods are abundant in beneficial bacteria.
However, it doesn’t mean that adding a lot of kefir to your diet will be necessarily a good thing. Eating fermented foods will help you increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, but it only applies to certain species. A healthy gut is a balanced gut, you should ensure that there are different types of bacteria living in your intestines.
Avoid Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
High-sugar foods should be avoided for a number of health reasons, and gut health is certainly one of them. Apart from hurting the good bacteria, foods high in sugar help bad bacteria grow. Unfortunately, due to the number of foods with added sugars, maintaining your gut health is not an easy task. The studies also show that sugar increases the levels of inflammation in your body.
Unfortunately, it turns out that even artificial sweeteners are harmful to your gut health. They don’t only boost the growth of bad bacteria strains but can also increase blood sugar levels. If your goal is to improve your gut health, you should stay away from both sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Manage Your Stress Levels
It is probably not the first time that you’ve been told to reduce your stress levels. Limiting sources of stress might sound impossible. You can lower your stress levels through activities such as exercising, yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature. None of these cost you a dime, and they can help your entire body function more efficiently. How is that related to gut health? If you’re stressed, your body’s ability to digest food decreases, which has a negative impact on the bacteria living in your gut.
However, it works both ways – if you don’t maintain a healthy microbiome, you will feel more stressed. According to scientists, when we are stressed, we tend to eat less or overeat.
Don’t Overwork Your Gut
From time to time you should let your intestines rest. How? Well, that’s simple! Try to avoid eating a few hours before you go to bed.
You don’t need to worry that your beneficial bacteria will die if they don’t receive a source of energy for a period of 10 hours. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Some strains of bacteria will grow if you can keep yourself from snacking late at night.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important factors that influence the health of your body. It is no surprise that it can also improve gut health. Why? If you disrupt your circadian rhythm, less efficient digestion will be one of the consequences. Because of that, getting enough sleep is essential to maintaining your gut health.
However, that’s not all – sleep deprivation has been linked to eating unhealthy foods and an increase in alcohol consumption. Both are bad for your gut bacteria. Gut health is only one of many reasons why you should sleep at least 8 hours each night. Sleeping 8+ hours will help you feel happier, more energetic, and your cognitive performance will improve.
There is a reason why our gut is often called “the second brain.” The bacteria living in your organisms produce a significant portion of dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. Because of that, if you neglect your gut microbiota, you will be less resistant to stress, and you will feel less happy.
However, you don’t need to transform your lifestyle completely – small changes to your diet could bring noticeable results. To improve your gut health, you should also support your gut in other ways, e.g., by getting enough sleep and dealing with your stress. All of those tips don’t require a lot of effort or money, but their effectiveness has been tested by research, which is why we encourage you to try them!