Research over the past decade has shown us that gut health is crucial for overall health in many ways. Science is loud and clear on this one: an unhealthy gut leads to a wide range of serious diseases, impaired immune and nervous systems and disrupted hormonal function. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles often create disbalances in our gut function and flora, so we have to take extra care to protect and nurture our gut health.
Our stomach is an ecosystem compromised of different unities whose jobs complement each other. In that way, the digestive system and the gut have a very close relationship. Poor gut environment leads to poor digestion. And poor digestion will negatively affect your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrition from any food you eat, so even if your diet is healthy and nutrient-rich, you might be experiencing lack of crucial nutrients and you’ll have a harder time fueling your muscles.
Diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression – scientific findings have linked all of these conditions with poor gut health. And the most important reason behind poor gut health is dysregulated gut flora – our gut is home to around 100 trillion microorganisms, remember? And most of them are good, friendly bugs that promote optimal gastrointestinal function, regulate metabolism, prevent infections and support our immune system. Maintaining a healthy population of these microorganisms is the key to gut health and proper digestion.
However, this could be harder thank you think – the gut flora is easily affected by antibiotics, birth control pills, diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods and toxins, diets low in fibers and chronic stress. All of these can cause serious gut damage which won’t simply fix itself – we have to put an effort into healing our guts so that we can enjoy optimal health and well-being!
Here are the 3 most important tips on restoring your gut health:
1. Feed the good bugs
Does your diet include foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics? If not, now is the right time to add them.
The number one foods to help you keep a healthy gut balance and improve digestion are the products which contain live strains of good bacteria and the products which can feed the bacteria you already have in the gut. A good place to start are diary products – increase your consumption of yogurt, milk, kefir and raw and soft cheeses.
The second best are the fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, fermented soy beans, sour pickles. The lactic acid found in fermented foods is excellent at nurturing healthy gut bacteria. Garlic and onions are also known to contain digestion-friendly nutrients. Since fiber-famished gut bacteria are linked to poor health, including more dietary fiber, especially cellulose, in your diet is a must.
Let your gut flora feast on whole grain foods, legumes, nuts and seeds, green beans, celery, broccoli, cauliflowers. Finally, add kombucha (a fermented drink with amazing health properties) to this probiotic mix and you’ll have a flowering gut flora in no time.
2. Restore gut flora with probiotics
Taking probiotics, especially during an antibiotic treatment, will fill your gut with beneficial bacteria and reduce the side effects of the antibiotics, which are detrimental to gut flora.
However, we cannot quit antibiotics altogether, so the best thing to do when you have to take antibiotics is to pair them with a high quality, multi-species probiotic to protect your gut and maintain a healthy digestive system. Probiotics will replace the good gut bacteria that the antibiotics have eliminated, and help balance the numbers of good and bad bacteria to keep your body functioning properly.
Also, if you want to decrease the need for antibiotics in your life, consume more food containing probiotics all around the year – this will make your immune system a lot stronger and more powerful at fighting off pathogens.
3. Nourish the gut with glutamine powder
L-glutamine is a rather unique amino acid because besides synthesizing proteins, it’s great for strengthening your gut walls and healing the damaged intestinal lining, enhancing the immune system and removing waste from the organism. This makes it incredibly effective at treating intestinal hyper-permeability, commonly known as a leaky gut. Even if you don’t suffer from this condition, consuming high quality glutamine powder can restore health in your whole gut ecosystem by reducing inflammation and enhancing nutrient absorption, resulting in improved overall health.
Keep in mind that these three methods won’t work optimally at restoring your gut health if you don’t remove most of the toxins and irritating foods that create inflammation from your diet first – yes, we’re talking about trans fats, sugars and alcohol. If you didn’t have enough reasons to get rid of your unhealthy food choices so far, here you go. Food can be your best medicine or worst poison and it can determine the way you feel, look and perform, so learn to use it right to live a long, healthy and happy life.