3 Proven Methods To Help Keep Your Gut Healthy!
A plant-based diet can improve health and prevent disease by feeding the good bacteria in your digestive tract.
Trillions of bacteria live in your digestive tract and play an important role in health. Of the thousands of species of gut microbes that live in your gut, however, some are healthy for your body—while others are not.
A healthful plant-based diet improves the health and diversity of your gut microbes, preventing and treating conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases.
“Did you know we are only 10 percent human? Ninety percent of our cells are nonhuman, microbial cells. Since our diet influences our microbes, it’s true: We really are what we eat. ”
Remember it’s not all about your diet. Keeping your gut health involves stress management, getting sleep and staying hydrated..
1. Lower your stress levels
Chronic high levels of stress are hard on your whole body, including your gut. Some ways to lower stress may include meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, diffusing essential oils, decreasing caffeine intake, laughing, yoga, or having a pet. Here are 10 ways to reduce feeling stressed.
2. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough or sufficient quality of sleep can have serious impacts on your gut health, which can in turn contribute to more sleep issues. Try to prioritize getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Your doctor may be able to help if you have trouble sleeping.
3. Eat slowly
Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. This may help you reduce digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Staying hydrated is a simple way to promote a healthy gut.
5. Take a prebiotic or probiotic
Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet may be a great way to improve your gut health. Prebiotics provide “food” meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live good bacteria. People with bacterial overgrowth, such as SIBO, should not take probiotics. Not all probiotic supplements are high quality or will actually provide benefit. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider when choosing a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to ensure the best health benefit.
6. Check for food intolerances
If you have symptoms such as cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux, you may be suffering from a food intolerance. You can try eliminating common trigger foods to see if your symptoms improve. If you are able to identify a food or foods that are contributing to your symptoms, you may see a positive change in your digestive health by changing your eating habits.
7. Change your diet
Reducing the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods that you eat can contribute to better gut health. Additionally, eating plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein can positively impact your gut. A diet high in fiber has been shown to contribute tremendously to a healthy gut microbiome.
Collectively, they are known as your gut microbiota, and they are hugely important for your health. However, certain types of bacteria in your intestines can also contribute to many diseases.
Interestingly, the food that you eat greatly affects the types of bacteria that live inside you. Here are 10 science-based ways to improve your gut bacteria.
1. Eat a Diverse Range of Foods
There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines. Each species plays a different role in your health and requires different nutrients for growth.
Generally speaking, a diverse microbiota is considered to be a healthy one. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the greater number of health benefits they may be able to contribute to (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Unfortunately, the Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, it is estimated that 75% of the world’s food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species (5Trusted Source).
However, diets in certain rural regions are more diverse and rich in different plant sources.
BOTTOM LINE:Eating a diverse diet rich in whole foods can lead to a diverse microbiota, which is beneficial for your health.
2. Eat Lots of Vegetables, Legumes, Beans and Fruit
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiota.
They are high in fiber, which can’t be digested by your body. However, fiber can be digested by certain bacteria in your gut, which stimulates their growth.
Beans and legumes also contain very high amounts of fiber.
Some high-fiber foods that are good for your gut bacteria include:
- Green peas
- Beans (kidney, pinto and white)
- Whole grains
One study found that following a diet high in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of some disease-causing bacteria (10Trusted Source).
Bifidobacteria are considered beneficial bacteria, as they can help prevent intestinal inflammation and enhance gut health (15Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Many fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Bifidobacteria.
3. Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are foods altered by microbes.
The process of fermenting usually involves bacteria or yeasts converting the sugars in food to organic acids or alcohol. Examples of fermented foods include:
Many of these foods are rich in lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that can benefit your health.
People who eat a lot of yogurt appear to have more lactobacilli in their intestines. These people also have fewer Enterobacteriaceae, a bacteria associated with inflammation and a number of chronic diseases (16Trusted Source).
Similarly, a number of studies have shown that yogurt consumption can beneficially modify intestinal bacteria and improve symptoms of lactose intolerance in both infants and adults (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Certain yogurt products may also reduce the abundance of certain disease-causing bacteria in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Two studies showed that yogurt also enhanced the function and composition of the microbiota (20Trusted Source).
However, it is important to note that many yogurts, especially flavored yogurts, contain high levels of sugar.
Therefore, the best yogurt to consume is plain, natural yogurt. This kind of yogurt is made only of milk and bacteria mixtures, which are sometimes referred to as “starter cultures.”
Furthermore, fermented soybean milk may promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, while decreasing quantities of some other disease-causing bacteria. Kimchi may also benefit the gut flora.