Join us and celebrate National Go With Your Gut Day on September 23! Through his journey toward improving his health, TV personality/musician/producer Randy Jackson discovered that it can start in the gut. To spread awareness about the importance of digestive health and its impact on overall health, Randy and Unify Health Labs will be releasing tips and sharing photos on social media with the hashtag #GoWithYourGutDay. Join in on the fun and post your own photos of a gut-healthy shake, smoothie, or recipe using the hashtag #GoWithYourGutDay.
Wondering how to support gut health but feel like you need a PhD just to understand what the microbiome is? The human gut is a complex thing. But your approach to boosting your gut health doesn’t have to be. Read on to learn how to support your gut health.
Why Should You Care About Gut Health?
Your body is host to trillions of bacteria – most of which reside in your gut. Collectively, this colony of bacteria is known as your gut microbiome. Your microbiome influences many of your body’s systems and organs – from your joints, to your skin, digestive health, heart, and brain, too.1,2,3,4
When It’s Good, It Does Impressive Work
When that bacteria colony is healthy (it’s balanced, stable, and diverse), it takes care of you in a lot of ways. The microbes are communicating with other parts of your body. Your microbiome is doing the impressive work of boosting immunity, influencing behavior and brain functions, supporting smooth and comfortable digestion and weight management, forming essential vitamins, and more.5,6,7,8,9
When your microbiome is happy, you’re happy (somewhat literally – it actually may influence your mood).10
When It’s Bad, It Can Be Uncomfortable
When your microbiome’s health needs a boost (perhaps it is unbalanced with too much bad bacteria, unstable, or missing some key bacterial strains), you may feel it. If your microbiome needs support, you may experience:
- Intense sugar cravings
- An occasional upset stomach, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn
- Sudden changes in weight
- Poor sleep, which may leave you feeling constantly tired
- Dry skin, itchiness, or other skin irritations
- Intolerances to certain foods, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms11
For many people, having a single one of those issues could be motivation to look into ways to support their gut health. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and you can get started today.
How Do You Take Care Of Your Gut?
1. Drink Plenty Of Water
Studies show that drinking water may help support a positive balance of bacteria and benefit the mucosal lining of your intestines.12
Try this: Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day so you remember to stay hydrated.
2. Eat A Variety Of Foods
There are hundreds of bacteria species in your intestines, and they each need different nutrients to thrive. Different foods contain different compounds, enzymes, and nutrients. When you change up what’s on your plate, you’re more likely to hit the specific thing your microbes need to thrive. A diverse diet leads to a more diverse microbiome, which can lead to a healthier gut.13,14
Try this: Aim to eat one food of every color of the rainbow every week.
3. Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods go through a process where sugars are broken down by yeast or bacteria. Examples of fermented foods are yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and tempeh. Many of these foods are rich in the probiotic lactobacilli. Some studies have found that eating these types of foods may boost the amount and diversity of bacteria in the microbiome.15
Try this: Incorporate yogurt into your regular breakfast routine. Not a fan? Mix some into your smoothie, or forget about yogurt and go big on kimchi instead.
4. Eat Prebiotic Fiber-Rich Foods
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that human cells can’t digest. Certain species of good bacteria in your gut, however, can digest them and use them for fuel. Eating foods with prebiotics can help support your gut’s beneficial bacteria.16
To add prebiotics to your diet, make sure you’re eating foods like garlic, onions, leeks, Savoy cabbage, chickpeas, lentils, bananas, watermelon, grapefruit, oats, almonds, and flaxseeds, which are all rich in prebiotics.17
Try this: Tape up a list of prebiotic foods to your fridge, so you can remember which ones to add to your diet.
5. Eat Foods Rich In Polyphenols
Polyphenols are bioactive compounds found in fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols contain antioxidants that help support healthy metabolism, weight,, and immunity. They also benefit gut health.18,19
If you’re looking to increase your intake of polyphenols, here are a few ideas for foods that are rich in them: dark chocolate(in moderation), blackberries, strawberries, plums, black beans, hazelnuts, pecans, artichokes, red onion, soy tempeh, black and green tea, and red wine(in moderation).20
6. Eat Plenty Of Whole Grains
Research shows that eating whole grains may help support the growth of good bacteria, like Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and Bacteroidetes.21 Whole grains that are particularly good for your gut are oats, whole wheat, rye, buckwheat, and bulgur.22
Try this: If you’ve been avoiding grains because of a notion that they’re “bad” for you, consider adding oats to your diet. They will give you the benefits of whole grains and are naturally gluten free.
7. Take A Gut Health Supplement
Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet may promote a healthy gut microbiome. Prebiotics provide “food” for your gut bacteria, which encourages them to thrive. Probiotics are live healthy bacteria that can “restock” the bacteria in your gut.
Some supplements, like Multi-GI 5, contain both prebiotics and probiotics. Supplements like Multi-GI 5 that contain both (known as “synbiotics”) may be more effective than probiotics alone.23
Try this: Ask your doctor to recommend a gut health supplement or probiotic that may be right for you.
8. Try A Plant-Based Diet
Vegetarian and vegan diets may support a more healthy microbiome by making it more diverse. For starters, you naturally get more polyphenols by eating more vegetables and fruits. Plant-based diets also tend to be higher in fiber than diets containing meat.24
9. Hit The Gym
As if any of us still needed to be convinced that exercise is good for you at this point. But here goes: exercise is good for you and your gut. Studies have found that exercise can help support diversity in the microbiome. The research shows that long workouts and high-intensity aerobic training, in particular, can contribute to gut diversity.25
Try this: Put on a great podcast and go for a long run in your neighborhood.
10. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stressors, including psychological stress, sleep disturbances, and environmental stress like extreme heat or cold can negatively affect gut health. Managing your stress levels can help you sidestep those negative effects.26 Stress management techniques include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, hugs from loved ones, and exercise.27
Try this: Set a timer for 10 minutes in the morning to relax and practice deep breathing.
It’s In Your Hands Now
Your gut health is important – but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Making a few simple changes – like changing up your diet, drinking more water, taking a gut health supplement, exercising more, and stressing less – can all make a difference to your gut health. You have the power to help change your gut. Just make sure to talk with your doctor before making any new changes to your diet – including supplements.
Check out the Unify Health Labs Instagram to follow along with all of the activities and posts we have in store for #GoWithYourGutDay!
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