Your gut health plays a role in not only your physical health, but also your mental health. Having a healthy gut can improve your well-being and your productivity at work, at the gym, and in life. However, if your gut is out of balance, the negative consequences will quickly become apparent. If you are asking yourself “Why does my stomach feel off?” or “Why has my weight changed?”, you may be experiencing an unhealthy gut. Other signs might include your skin breaking out or feeling overly stressed and anxious. These are all major signals that your gut needs some help.
What makes a gut healthy or unhealthy? Diet is not the only factor—sleep, stress, exercise, and many other aspects of your everyday life can have an impact on your gut.
While you may not be able to change some of these factors, here are five simple ways to start improving your gut health.
Eat Probiotic-Rich Foods. Fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, pickles, miso, or sauerkraut are full of probiotics, which are a good type of bacteria that your gut loves. If none of those sound tasty to you, another easy way to boost your good stomach bacteria is to eat yogurt and certain cheeses. Although not all cheeses promote good bacteria growth, most goudas, mozzarellas, and cottage cheeses have active cultures of good bacteria, making it a delicious and nutritious probiotic.
Eat Prebiotic Foods. Like the probiotics, prebiotics promote good bacteria to multiply in your gut. Some of these foods include asparagus, bananas, chicory, garlic, onions, and whole grains. When paired with probiotics, this makes for a powerful mix that will boost your gut health.
Eat Less Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners. Consuming an excess of sugar can throw off the balance of bacteria in your stomach. This is particularly true for artificial sweeteners, which promote the growth of bacteria strains that have been shown to lead to metabolic diseases (diseases that increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease). Limiting sodas, juices, and flavored coffee drinks can drastically cut your daily sugar intake and keep your stomach happy.
Exercise Regularly. Exercise benefits you in many ways. It contributes to great heart health, weight loss and maintenance, and promotes good bacteria in your gut. Going to the gym to do weight training, cardio, or even walking your dog can all have a positive effect on your stomach.
Get Enough Consistent Sleep. Research has found that the gut-brain connection plays a bigger role in gut health than we may think. Getting better and more consistent sleep has been shown to improve the bacteria growth in your gut. Having a good sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, promotes the healthy release of hormones that can have a huge positive impact on stomach bacteria.
Choosing to follow a few, or all, of these tips is an easy way to make a difference in your gut, and help to improve your mood, skin, stomach, and overall health.
The material provided is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the diagnosis or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. You should always seek medical advice before consuming any new medicines or supplements.