In recent years, scientists and wellness researchers have come to understand that one of the biggest keys to improving our mental and physical health is the gut. Gut health influences a far larger amount of functions in our body, giving more credence to the old saying ‘you are what you eat.’ Turns out, that couldn't be more true. When it comes to dieting, there are many diets that emphasize cutting out certain foods or sticking to a select few food groups, and for some that may be a great way to take control of your health. However, no diet is going to make you feel your best if your gut health is out of sorts. If you're curious about how you can improve your gut health this year, then you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading for five ways you can improve your gut health and help support your mental and physical health.
You might be wondering, what are probiotics? Probiotics are essentially living microorganisms that help our body break down food and nutrients and turn them into energy by restoring the gut flora, or bacteria that live inside the digestive system. Probiotics for gut health are available in supplement form, making it easy to add probiotics into your diet if you feel like your gut isn’t getting what it needs to feel good. Different probiotic supplements will include different ingredients but are all intended to improve digestive health and function to make you feel like your body is getting the most out of the food you’re eating.
Additionally, you should consider keeping a healthy variety in your diet and the foods that you eat. That means not sticking to the same meals every day and mixing them up every now and then! If you typically have eggs and toast for breakfast, consider some fruit and cereal the next day. This will help you give your body more well-rounded foods and nutrients throughout the week and help your gut by not digesting the same things every day. If you’re someone who struggles with keeping variety in your diet, making a light meal schedule to remind yourself to mix it up may help you improve your diet and start getting all the nutrients you need.
Fiber, as we all know, is the carbohydrate that helps us, well, stay regular. But it’s a little more complex than that. While it can and does support a healthy digestive system and combat constipation, it also helps to support healthy gut microbes. You can include more fiber by eating fiber-rich foods such as beans, broccoli or other vegetables, or you can take supplements to increase your fiber intake. Making sure you eat a fiber-rich meal every few days will do wonders for your gut. For most, some combination of both fiber-rich foods and supplements that increase fiber intake is probably ideal.
There are certain foods that contain natural microbes of their own. Some of the more popular options include yogurts and fermented drinks. For example, kombucha and tepaché are made with living bacteria. These are great to incorporate into your diet in small ways. In fact, yogurt makes a great breakfast with some granola and berries. Right there, you’re not only getting the microbes from the yogurt but also getting healthy fibers and grains from the berries and granola. These are small, usually inexpensive food items that you can easily stock up on your next grocery trip. Therefore, it is easy to try a few flavors of kombucha and yogurt to see what you like best!
Another big way to improve your gut health is to watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol is one of the worst things you can put into your gut. It kills the natural bacteria in our stomach that helps us digest food and support healthy and positive brain function. Alcohol can cause inflammation of the intestines as well, causing more intense problems down the line. Limit alcohol consumption to just a few drinks a week, if any at all. You’ll likely start noticing improvements in the way you feel overall and especially in your gut immediately.
The key to improving your gut health is about supporting the natural bacteria your gut needs to digest foods effectively. You can achieve this by increasing your probiotic intake in your diet. Begin eating fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha regularly. Or, take probiotic supplements for gut health. Some combination of these two efforts will support your gut to produce and maintain the natural microbial balance it needs to help you feel better both mentally and physically. The gut is the key to our overall health, so take control of it today!