Now that you have an idea of what you shouldn’t be eating, let’s dive a little deeper into overall gut health. Sounds gut-wrenching, right? Bad joke, but I couldn’t help myself. Let’s forget it happened and proceed, shall we?
The word ‘gut’ doesn’t have a great reputation. Personally, I can’t stand it. It conjures images of hairy beer bellies and serves as a constant reminder that I’ll never have abs like Britney Spears. Thankfully, ‘gut health’ is another thing altogether. In a broad sense, gut health refers to the gut microbiome. (This is a complex biological topic and I’m no biologist, so I’m going to try to make this complicated topic a little easier to digest … insert winky emoji here) I’m talking about the microorganisms that have taken up residence in your intestines. On average, a person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract.
While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are actually incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body. In fact, having a wide variety of these good bacteria in your gut can enhance your immune system function, improve symptoms of depression, help combat obesity, and about a million other awesome things. While the jury is still out in whether or not all health problems begin in the gut, there are several big ones with well-documented roots back to the gut and autoimmune conditions are the first to come to mind. Being that 80% of your immune system resides in your gut, it’s not surprising.
Studies have shown healthy gut makes for a long, healthy life. All that to say. it’s high time to start making your health and your gut a top priority.
Now that you’re an expert on gut health, let’s talk about how you can start to take control of all of it.
Gut Check Time
If you recall, last blog post we talked about the basics of what foods to avoid to keep you feeling like a champ while keeping your autoimmune disorder on its best behavior. In addition to avoiding those triggersome foods, here are a few small changes you can make that will yield big results in the gut health department.
One of the most beneficial things you can do for not only your gut health, but for your overall wellness, is to stress less. Yes, I know that’s much easier said than done, but chronic levels of high stress wreak havoc on your body from top to bottom. Who knew your gut was depending on you to stay calm, cool, and collected?
Another (seemingly) simple way to keep a healthy gut is to make sure you’re sleeping enough. I know, this one is almost as tough as keeping stress levels low. Not getting enough quality sleep can have serious impacts on your gut health, which can in turn contribute to more sleep issues. Make getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night a non-negotiable and your whole body will thank you.
Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet may be a great way to improve your gut health. Prebiotics provide “food” meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live, “good” bacteria. To ensure the most and best benefits from a prebiotic of probiotic regimen, talk with your medical pro of choice before you get started.
These are just a few, simple changes you can implement for a healthier, happier gut, which, in turn, makes for a happier, healthier YOU!
Putting It All Into Practice
Well, we’ve told you which foods to stay away from. How about I offer up some solutions? There are several foods that will contribute to having your healthiest gut. We’re talking about foods that actively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, which contributes to your overall health. We’re talking about foods that are tasty and do a gut good!
Garlic and onion: Various studies indicate that these two flavorful veggies have some anti-cancer and immune system-enhancing properties, some of which are closely related to the functions of the gut.
Fermented foods: While the quality of these store-bought foods may vary (Maybe it’s time to consider making your own?), kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, tempeh, miso, and kefir are great dietary sources of probiotics. Just to clarify, miso and tempeh are fermented soy-based products and in our last post, we named soy as an inflammatory food to avoid. Fermented soy is a different story, though. It all comes down to how well (or not) you tolerate it. Also, choose organic, non-Gmo products to avoid pesticides, etc.
Collagen-boosting foods: Collage-rich foods like bone broth and salmon are beneficial to overall health, but the health of your gut more specifically. Still not sold? Your hair and skin and nails will begin to look healthier and glowier (Not an actual word, but y’all know what I mean. And who doesn’t love a little extra glow?) in no time.
Fiber: Eating a diet high in fiber-rich foods is imperative to good gut health. Fiber feeds and enables the bacteria to thrive, which means more bacteria. This results in both lower inflammation and better digestion. Some dietary BOGO action, if you will.
It’s time to love your gut. Never has the saying, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” been more true than in the case of your gut. All those hundreds of species of bacteria living in your digestive tract play such a huge role in your overall health and it’s time to start giving them the attention they deserve. A healthy gut makes for a healthy life and a healthy life is a happy life. Get your gut in check and you’ll feel better than ever.