Do you follow your gut instinct when it comes to making life decisions? If yes, then you must listen to and trust your gut when it comes to your health too because gut health is an essential part of your overall well-being.
The what, where, and why of the microbiome!
Each of us, in our bodies, carries a unique network of microbes known as the microbiome. The microbiome is formed of varied ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes in the form of bacteria, viruses, fungi & parasites. While they are present throughout the body, they are largely found in the gut. A balance between these good and bad microbes in your gut ensures the healthy functioning of your body and assists in breaking down foods and toxins, producing vitamins, stimulating the immune system, and supplying the gut with energy.
However, an imbalance may subject the body to multiple chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes & even cancer. Hence the saying ‘healthy gut, healthy you’!
These can ruin your gut health!
While the make-up of one’s gut microbiome is initially determined by one’s DNA, it is later affected by environmental exposures, diet, and emotional stress.
Your gut will most likely view processed food with artificial ingredients as an invader and not as digestible food. Consumption of processed food may harm the good bacteria in your gut and also cause inflammation.
Your mental state and microbiome influence one another. Increased stress may cause a ‘leaky gut’ i.e., a condition that creates gaps in the lining of the intestinal walls allowing bacteria and toxins to pass through into the bloodstream.
Lack of Sleep
Not getting enough sleep for a long period may result in increased stress and unhealthy food choices, resulting in poor gut health.
Antibiotics, also known as gut-altering drugs, wipe out all kinds of bacteria, even the good ones. Prolonged usage of antibiotics may result in gut microbiome imbalance.
Towards better gut health!
A diet with resistant starch or insoluble fiber is a yes for a healthy gut. Simply saying, insoluble fiber is a dietary fiber that cannot be digested in the small intestine and it ferments in the large intestine. This fermentation produces more good bacteria and thus improves gut health. Your diet should ideally include food that contains insoluble fiber – pulses & legumes, uncooked oats, bananas, and cashews.
Additionally, a diet full of rich fruits & vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fiber is best for a healthy microbiome and a healthy gut. Avoid processed food, food with high-fat and high amounts of refined sugar.
Reduce your consumption of Highly Processed Food
Eat slowly, chew well
Chewing your food breaks it down into smaller pieces and helps amp up the digestive process. It also assists in the absorption of nutrients and reduces digestive discomfort. So take your time, and eat your meals slowly!
Increase your water intake! Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to improve gut health as it promotes balance in the microbiome, prevents constipation, regulates bowel movement, and preempts headaches caused by dehydration.
Drinking at least 2-3 L of water should help you stay hydrated.
Unwind & lower stress levels
Reducing stress levels can have a positive impact on your health. Taking a walk in the park, meditating, practicing yoga, spending time with your loved ones, or some hobby time can help manage stress levels and promote better gut health.
Lack of sleep can affect your gut health and poor gut health can affect your sleep – a vicious circle. A good 7-8 hours of sleep gives your gut enough time to restore and repair, while poor sleep can result in a decreased amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut and probiotics are good bacteria themselves. Consumption of prebiotics such as onions, garlic, bananas, leafy greens & legumes will stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt and fermented foods like kombucha and kimchi are great sources of probiotics that will help restore your gut after dysbiosis. However, it is important to consult a healthcare expert before the consumption of prebiotic or probiotic supplements because not all supplements provide the right result to all.
Gut Health – Key to Overall Health
Not just nourishing your body by absorbing essential nutrients and minerals, but your gut is also connected to your brain via nerves and impacts mental well-being. Hence, good gut health achieves holistic well-being, inclusive of both physical and mental health.
A good diet, a good night’s sleep, and a healthy mind can do wonders in maintaining good gut health. And, if you are working towards repairing & healing your gut microbiome, remember to be patient & consistent.
Want to fix your Gut Health? Frequent bloating, indigestion, and constipation are all signs of a suffering gut. The good news is that these are all reversible and can be fixed with good nutrition and building small healthy habits.