Inside the gut’s microbiome are trillions of microorganisms. These bacteria are both good and bad, and they play a significant role in your overall well-being. From brain fog and fatigue to weight fluctuation and inflammation, poor gut health can lead to a variety of symptoms. When left unaddressed, smaller gut problems can transform into mental health disorders like depression and chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
That’s why maintaining the health of your gut with positive habits and routines is so essential. And, to help you figure out just what you can do to maintain and improve your gut health, here are the top tips from a Fairfield County nutritionist.
Start with your diet
A healthy gut begins with a healthy diet. The foods we eat every day contribute to the kinds of bacteria that thrive in our microbiome. As you could probably already guess, highly processed foods with lots of sugar support bacteria that leaves us feeling drained and bloated, and over time, will have us feeling simply unwell. Likewise, excessive amounts of red meat can lead to plaque buildup in our arteries. And may impact our gut health negatively.
On the inverse, foods rich with fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics help support good bacteria in the microbiome.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be found in a variety of foods. These bacteria fight off bad bacteria, keep your immune system strong (70-80% of our immune cells are in the gut, after all!), and promote a more healthy lifestyle. They’re even beneficial for your mental health.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like:
While probiotic foods actually contain live, beneficial bacteria, prebiotic foods are full of plant fibers that act as nutrition for probiotics. Basically, prebiotics support and fuel good bacteria.
Prebiotics are found in foods such as:
- Whole oats
- Flax seeds
Other dietary considerations
Beyond introducing probiotics and prebiotics more often into your diet, other beneficial dietary practices include drinking plenty of water (eight 8-ounce glasses per day), eating smaller, but more frequent meals, and limiting your alcohol and caffeine consumption.
In addition, your goal should be to diversify the foods you eat so that your microbiome becomes full of a wide variety of healthy bacteria. Your diet should be full of fiber, but make sure you’re getting fiber from different sources. For example, try a combination of fiber-rich foods like raspberries, broccoli, and whole grains instead of just getting fiber from one single source.
The Importance of Exercise
The benefits of regular exercise cannot be stressed enough. Consistent exercise has been found to be beneficial for the gut microbiome. Exercise is a natural way of decreasing inflammation and stress. And, regular exercise may even affect the bacterial diversity of our gut. Of course, exercise helps stimulate a healthy appetite and keeps us strong, mobile, and mentally alert. What’s more, exercise boosts our daily energy, especially when paired with a healthy diet.
On top of exercise, incorporating other stress-reducing activities into your daily routine can help maintain a healthy gut and a healthy life.
For starters, a consistent sleep schedule is paramount to physical and mental well-being. Sleep deprivation can increase stress, which in turn, can lead to food sensitivities, stomach pain, and inflammation. Additionally, deep breathing exercises, mediation, and even yoga stretches are effective habits you can use to lower your overall stress.
Are you ready to help your body heal?
Poor gut health can inhibit our body’s natural ability to heal and be well. If you’re ready to improve and maintain the health of your gut so you can live life at your best here in Fairfield County, schedule a complimentary discovery call with me today.