Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. It’s one of the key factors to our overall mental and physical health. When we’re feeling unsettled or out of balance in our guts, it’s proven to have a significant impact on how the rest of our body functions.
Studies in the last two decades have demonstrated links between gut health and autoimmune system, our moods, the immune system, endocrine disorders and skin conditions.
Therefore, improving and maintaining our gut health is key to living not only a healthy physical life, but feeling our best.
We’ll lay out three of the best ways to improve gut health that will have your digestive system doing cartwheels.
Of the ways to keep your gut health in better shape, taking nutritional supplements is one of the easiest in terms of the wealth of products out there specifically designed for this exact purpose. It’s just knowing which ones to take that will work the best for you!
There are many different supplements that can help you improve the bacteria quantity in your gut, boosting those friendly microbes to keep your digestive process running smoothly.
It’s definitely worth a bit of research to find the supplement that will suit your diet the most, as well as your lifestyle, but there are some well-known supplements you can easily incorporate into your daily life. Here are just a few of them.
Good bacteria are essential for digesting the fibre we eat, synthesising crucial vitamins and nutrients – taking a good probiotic boosts the number of these good bacteria. Supplementing your diet with probiotics is a great way to also replace any microorganisms in your digestive tract that may have been stripped as a result of taking antibiotics, for example.
When looking for a probiotic, look for a brand that has at least a billion organisms – called colony-forming units or CFU on the label. Plus, you should keep an eye out for a variety of bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
Our bodies naturally produce collagen, which is an essential protein structure. It supports joint health, bone strength, and improves skin elasticity. However, if you’re not eating a lot of bone broths and organ meat (which, even in a hardcore carnivore’s diet, is pretty extreme!) then you’re likely not getting the optimal amounts of this protein. Collagen includes vital amino acids which can be beneficial to the digestive tract as well as the intestines.
This is where taking a collagen supplement comes in – especially if your diet is restricted to include little or no meat. Because collagen can be manufactured, it means that regardless of your diet there are vegan and non-vegan sources of this all important protein.
This is a fine black powder that’s made when materials that contain carbon, like wood and coconut shells, are heated to a high temperature to create charcoal – this is where the ‘activated’ comes from.
This process enlarges the surface area of the charcoal, which gives it larger absorption capabilities for toxins and other substances that reside in our bodies – or when we’re exposed to free radicals through smoke and radiation.
Taking an activated charcoal supplement helps remove any toxins in your gut, cleansing your digestive system in a way that rebalances the microorganisms in your body to healthy levels.
Eating foods and food groups that are fermented is a great way to improve your gut health, because they’re rich in probiotics – the live microorganisms that you’re well acquainted with now.
Consuming foods with a high quantity of probiotics means that you’re replacing and maintaining an optimal level of good bacteria and overall enzymes to your ‘intestinal flora’. This increases the health of your ‘gut microbiome’ making it more effective at taking in nutrients, and boosts the immune system.
If you’re on a vegan diet or if you’re lactose intolerant, then getting those all important microorganisms into your system can be tricky. Sure, you can take probiotic supplements, but if you want to keep things real then that’s not always preferable for some people.
This is where – if you’re not keen on taking probiotic supplements for whatever reason – fermented foods come in. Consuming things like kombucha, miso, tempeh, pickled foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are amazing ways of sourcing the good bacteria to keep your gut health in tip top shape.
Though there’s a lot that even the most accomplished doctors and physicians don’t know, there have been increasing studies that suggest that a lack of sleep and stress can be major contributors to poor gut health.
What we do know is that digestive health can play a role in how well someone sleeps, and that sleep can impact how well the digestive system functions – it’s a two way street.
Lack of sleep impacts factors like your stress levels, which can lead to unbalanced gut health. This is because the stress hormone cortisol increases when we don’t sleep enough, which sometimes means that food and toxins are able to pass through the intestine and into the bloodstream in instances called ‘leaky gut’.
Not sleeping well also impacts our dietary choices – when we’re tired, we don’t always eat well. This contributes to consuming too much sugar, processed carbs, and trans fats.
Plus, something as eating too close to the time when you sleep can impact the quality of your sleep as the body is burdened with digestion and absorption. This, in turn, creates a cycle of reduced sleep and poor digestive functionality.
Overall there are several easy ways that you can remedy any existing poor gut health or kick start a daily routine to promote optimal gut health before any problems occur. At the end of the day, it’s about what suits your lifestyle most – and everyone has personal routines that deliver the most benefit.
So whether you decide to take supplements or discover a love of kimchi, working on the health of your digestive system has a myriad of benefits and you’ll feel so much better for it!