Improve Your Gut Health – Healthy Gut is Your Body’s Superhero

how to improve gut health

The fastest way to improve your gut health is to eat the food that feeds “good” bacteria and avoid the food that feeds “bad” bacteria. 

 

Your gut is home to “good” and “bad” bacteria. Those bacteria, ideally, live in a balance where “good” bacteria are dominant over the “bad” bacteria. But due to stress, a diet full of refined and processed foods, immoderate alcohol use, antibiotics, antacids, and lack of physical activity this balance gets disrupted. Suddenly the “bad” bacteria take over and a host of health issues emerge, this is called dysbiosis. 

 

 

In your gut live trillions of microorganisms from thousands of different species of bacteria, fungi, and viruses called the microbiome. 

Because of that your microbiome is as unique as your fingerprint. It is determined firstly by your DNA and secondly by your diet, environment, and way of living.

Microbiome and the human body form a symbiosis. In that symbiosis, the human body provides a suitable environment for microorganisms to live, and in turn microorganisms support vital bodily functions

The microbiome is involved in:
          • digestion,
          • nutrient absorption,
          • immunity,
          • vitamin synthesis,
          • blood sugar regulation,
          • cognitive functions (brain),
          • and endocrine functions (hormones).

 

The gut has a major influence on your health because the gut has a direct connection with every organ in your body, especially the brain. The brain-gut bond is one of the strongest bonds in your body. 

You know that gut feeling you get when you are about to do something new and challenging. Or those butterflies of happy anticipation. Or the gut-wrenching feeling when under stress. 

Those are all visible and palpable evidence that the gut has a direct bond with the most distant organ, the brain. 


The greatest influence on your microbiome has the food you eat. The food you consume will determine which species will make up the majority of your gut flora

 

Symptoms of unhealthy gut

While in balance, all those microorganisms live in harmony with your body. Unfortunately, once that balance is disturbed it creates an opportunity for one species to overgrow and start causing trouble. 

 

The most common symptoms of an unhealthy gut are:

          • diarrhea,
          • constipation,
          • gas,
          • bloating,
          • abdominal cramps and discomfort,
          • acid reflux,
          • nausea,
          • burping,
          • anxiety,
          • sleep problems,
          • and bad breath.

If your lifestyle is full of unhealthy habits and you often experience one or several of these symptoms then chances are you have an unhealthy gut. 

When you suspect you’re having some health problem it’s always smart to visit your doctor. But at the same time, you should take control of your health by adjusting your lifestyle and incorporating healthy habits

 

You should be aware that prolonged, untreated dysbiosis can lead to chronic health conditions and severe illnesses. 

 

“The majority of diseases begin in the digestive tract when “good” bacteria are no more able to control “bad” bacteria.” – Eli Metchnikoff (Nobel Laureate)

 

Foods that improve gut health

foods for gut health

The food you eat leaves a deep impression on your gut flora. Because the same food you eat feeds the microorganisms in your gut. The microorganisms that get the most food will be the ones that multiply quickest. 

Foods that are favored by the “good” bacteria are called prebiotics and probiotics. 

 

Eating a variety of whole foods that are rich in oligosaccharides, live microorganisms, fiber, and resistant starches will stimulate the growth of “good” bacteria. 

 

You should focus on eating a variety of different foods to ensure a diversity of beneficial microorganisms. If you eat only one food, from the probiotic or prebiotic group, in large quantities you will not see good results as you will if you choose the little-bit-of-everything approach. 

 

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are foods that are food for the “good” bacteria. Eating this type of food daily is the best way to restore balanced microbiota and ensure a healthy gut flora

Officially only food rich in fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides is considered to be prebiotic. While unofficially food rich in insoluble fiber and resistant starches also falls under the definition of prebiotics. 

Food high in fructooligosaccharides: 

          • Bananas
          • Onions
          • Garlic
          • Asparagus
          • Leeks
          • Chicory root
          • Cranberries
          • Jerusalem artichoke
          • Yacón
          • Blue agave
          • Wheat
          • Barley 

Food high in galactooligosaccharides:

          • Beans
          • Lentils
          • Chickpeas
          • Green peas
          • Cashews
          • Pistachios
          • Soy (beans and products)
          • Oat
          • Chia
          • Butternut pumpkin
          • Beetroot
          • Sugar-apple

Food rich in resistant starches:

          • Potatoes (roasted and cooled)
          • Brown rice (cooked and cooled)
          • Rolled oats (uncooked)
          • White beans
          • Black beans
          • Red lentils
          • Peanuts (roasted)
          • Chickpeas (cooked and cooled)

Food rich in insoluble fiber:

          • Whole grains
          • Leafy vegetables
          • Fruits and vegetables with edible skin
          • Fruits and vegetables with edible seeds
          • Seeds 

Probiotics

Probiotics are fermented foods that contain beneficial bacteria.

It’s a good idea to incorporate some probiotics into your daily diet. But don’t rely only on probiotics to maintain healthy gut flora. While they are beneficial, they usually contain only a dozen different species.

Never cook fermented foods. Because, for food to have probiotic properties, bacteria in it must remain alive and active. Heating fermented food will destroy all healthy bacteria. 

Best probiotic whole foods:

          • Sauerkraut
          • Kimchi
          • Milk kefir
          • Water kefir
          • Coconut kefir
          • Probiotic yogurt
          • Plant yogurt
          • Tempeh
          • Kombucha
          • Kvass

 

How long does it take to restore your gut flora?

To restore balanced and healthy gut flora it can take anywhere from 1 month and up to a year. To ensure fast results you should take the progressive approach. 

The first step you should take is to eliminate all refined and processed foods. Make every meal from whole foods and mostly plants. 

Second, make sure you get enough sleep every night. Because, lack of sleep causes stress, and stress deteriorates the microbiome. 

And third, get moving. Physical activity is an important part of gut health. Regular low-intensity exercise (like walking) stimulates bowel movement which reduces the time stool (with all the pathogens) stays in the colon.  

 

How to improve gut health without dairy?

 

To improve gut health without dairy you should eat a variety of plant foods with prebiotic and probiotic properties. We are conditioned, through advertisements, to associate gut health with yogurt. But the truth is plant-based options are far more efficient in improving gut health. 

 

Especially, eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes will create a diverse gut microbiome and ensure all the good bacteria is thriving in your gut. 

 

How to improve gut health without probiotics?

It is possible to improve gut health without probiotics by consuming food with prebiotic properties, fiber-rich food, and food containing resistant starches. Those are foods that feed a wide variety of microorganisms living in the gut and support healthy balance among them.

 

Read more about gut health

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