6 Steps to a Healthy Gut
There is a lot of new research coming out about gut health and when it is compromised, can cause illness and diseases. As we continue to learn about the complexity of the vast, dense microbial world that we have inside of us, we begin to see the connection between the role our gut plays in our immune health, brain function, hormonal balance, energy levels and physical performance.
Incorporating the following 6 steps will help you to get your gut in the best health possible!
Most people by now are aware of probiotics and their health benefits but we are not as aware of the importance of their fuel source - prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fibre in humans and are also found in garlic, artichokes, dandelion greens, onions, leeks, raw asparagus and chicory root. These foods are not commonly found in the Western diet so it’s no wonder we are not obtaining enough.
Prebiotics are the ‘fuel’ for beneficial bacteria in the gut and have profound health benefits such as improved digestion, lowered risk for cardiovascular disease, heightened immune function, lowered obesity and lowers inflammation and autoimmune reactions. Teaming up your pre and probiotics will give you an even better result!
2. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a powerful practice that can offer you many health benefits. When was the last time you sat down, thanked the food you were about to absorb and savour each bite? Practicing mindful eating allows our nervous system to become parasympathetic dominant which is important for optimal digestion. Our hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes increase, allowing for breakdown of the fats, carbohydrates and proteins, which means less bloating, constipation and more energy. Mindful eating also improves our relationship with food. When we are in conscious awareness of what we are eating, we begin to understand what type of food triggers our bloating or food intolerance's and which foods gives us more energy, clearer skin and a better sense of wellbeing.
When our circadian rhythm and microbial rhythms our out of balance it can have negative effects on our mood and microflora. Our gut produces around 95% of our body’s serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that improves our mood and gives our body a restorative sleep. When we do not receive a good nights sleep an imbalance of our hormones serotonin, melatonin and cortisol occurs which can lead to fatigue, anxiety, increased sense of pain, obesity, diabetes, decreased metabolism, stress and inflammation. Getting a regenerative and deep sleep will improve your microbial rhythm and in turn, will improve your sleep. It's cycle is deeply connected.
4. Fermented Foods
Traditional cultures around the world each practice the art of fermentation. It has allowed these cultures to harvest food during the summer and preserve the food well into the cold winter months. Fermented foods such as sauerkrauts, kombucha, kefir, kimchi and yoghurts contain probiotics that are beneficial to our gut. Once in our body they populate in the intestinal tract and begin to interact with our bodies by keeping opportunistic bacteria at bay, helps remove toxins from the body, increases vitamin and nutrient absorption and assimilation.
5. Eliminate Processed Foods
The pathogenic bacteria in our guts have a feast when we eat food high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. It is important to understand that all carbohydrates are broken down into sugars through our digestive system so sticking to a low carbohydrate diet will help rebalance you microbiota if there is signs of dysbiosis (more bad bacteria than good). Fuel up on green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, silverbeat, chicory, lettuce and zucchini. These particular vegetables contain high amounts of fibre to keep your bowels functioning daily keeping your gut nice and clean.
It is a no brainer that exercise is on the list! We know that people who are obese have a different gut microflora than lean people and the amount of exercise they get, plays a huge factor in this. Physical exercise modulates the gut microbiota either directly through serotonin signaling or indirectly by modulating metabolism and exercise performance. So get moving! Even if it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a brisk walk in the morning for 20 minutes, it will improve your gut health, physical body and state of wellbeing.