Gut Health: Simple Ways to Care For Your Digestive System
by Denise Austin ||
"Gut health" is a popular term lately, and for good reason - as more research comes out, taking care of your tummy is important for your health! There are different ways to promote gut health - they include foods that naturally promote gut health, why a probiotic may be a solution for you, and how lifestyle plays a role in digestion and keeping your gut healthy!
Foods for Gut HealthWhat you eat is very closely tied to your gut health. The simplest way to think about this is: how do you feel after eating not-great foods for a few days (or in some people's cases, for a few hours)? I know when I am on a snack/junk food binge (whether it's due to circumstance - traveling for instance, or because I am simply craving those types of foods), I never feel great. I feel sluggish, my stomach may be upset, and in the end I tell myself "this isn't worth it." Is that how you feel after eating less-than-healthy foods?Now think about when you are following a healthy diet - you are probably filled with energy, are regular, and have less bloating. That's because some healthy foods help to promote gut health - and when your gut is healthy, you feel it all throughout your body!Some foods to minimize (or even completely avoid) to promote gut health include high-fat, high-sugar and processed foods. These are just hard on your digestive system, and in general tend to not offer up a lot of vital nutrients your body needs.The good news is there are a lot of healthy and delicious foods you should add to your diet - not only to promote gut health, but to also promote a healthy weight, help prevent bloating, boost your energy and more!! These foods promote the growth of bacteria that is GOOD for your gut, so add these foods into your diet as you remove the unhealthy ones above!
- Foods high in fiber. Add beans, legumes, oats and a variety of veggies and fruits to your diet to help keep your digestive system running smoothly. I love this smoothie recipe, plus my Whole Body Plan has plenty of high-fiber food recipes to choose from, like Lentil Soup, Hummus and Veggie Sandwich, Black Bean Burrito Bowl and more!
- Foods that are fermented. Yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi are some fermented foods that I like to eat - they taste great and are good for the gut! I like to add sauerkraut to sandwiches for a tangy taste, and we all know I love my yogurt! Try eating yogurt in the morning for a week or so and see how you feel - look for yogurt with active cultures and without any added sugars.
Probiotics and Gut HealthProbiotics are another way to support a healthy gut and digestive system. These live bacteria and yeasts are good, helpful bacteria - the kind you want in your body. You may have been prescribed probiotics after you have taken antibiotics... that is because antibiotics wipe out both the bad and good bacteria; probiotics help replace the good stuff! Yogurt with live cultures are a good source of probiotics, as are probiotic supplements. My new EVER BETTER™ Protein Bites are another great way to get probiotics into your snacks - each serving provides one billion CFUs of probiotics - and you won't even know they are there! It's a tasty way to get some gut healthy probiotics into your diet.So when should you consider a probiotic? If you eat a lot of sugar, have bloating, gas, or other gastrointestinal issues, or lose or gain weight without trying, a probiotic may help - make an appointment with your physician to rule out any other issues and get her feedback on how a probiotic may work in your lifestyle.
4 Lifestyle Tips For Gut HealthLuckily, there are some simple, effective steps you can take to make your gut healthier!
- Address unhealthy stress. Regular fitness and breathing exercises are my favorite ways to manage stress - both are proven to help reduce stress levels.
- Watch how you eat. If you tend to inhale your food, that can be hard on your digestive system. Instead, follow the Slow Food Movement suggestions: sit down for your meal, eat slowly, and savor each bite focusing on texture, flavor, smell and your surroundings. Good for your gut and for your waistline!
- Get your zzzzs. Good, quality rest and sleep are vital to overall wellbeing, including your gut health. Try these sleep tips to help prepare for bedtime and promote good sleep.
- Drink enough water. If you don't like the taste of water, jazz it up with these ideas. But make sure you really aim to stay hydrated, as it promotes a healthy digestive system and helps to balance gut bacteria. Good rule of thumb - if you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated, so drink up!