Unless your tummy is aching, you might not give much thought to your gut health. But science is showing we should.
Over the past decade, research on the importance of gut health has escalated, making it clear that our day-to-day lifestyle and diet choices can positively or negatively impact our gut and, in turn, our health.
Too much or too little gut bacteria can cause illnesses, ranging from diabetes to depression. Striking a healthy balance improves the function of our hearts and brains and can also help us better manage our weight and blood sugar.
So, what can you do to create a healthy gut? Here are 5 tips:
- Eat a wide range of whole foods. The more types of bacteria you have, the better. Eating a diverse diet, particularly rich in whole foods, can lead to a more diverse microbiota and, ultimately, better health. Eat your vegetables—and while you’re at it, fruits, legumes, and beans.
- Increase prebiotic consumption. Studies have shown that prebiotics, which are a type of fiber, can boost the growth of healthy bacteria and may help reduce risk factors for some diseases. Raw garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, apples, and bananas are a few examples of prebiotic foods.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. When it comes to your gut, chronic alcohol consumption can cause serious problems, such as dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of the microorganisms in our intestines. Dysbiosis may play a role in a variety of health issues, from irritable bowel syndrome to rheumatoid arthritis. Studies are showing, however, that drinking red wine can change gut bacteria in a favorable way. Limit your intake, however, to one glass a day for women and no more than two for men.
- Get adequate sleep. Your gut health and sleep are intertwined. When your microbiome is less diverse, it can impact serotonin and melatonin production, thus negatively impacting your ability to sleep. In turn, poor sleep can impact our microbiome. Studies show that as little as two consecutive nights of insufficient sleep can result in determinantal changes to your microbiome. Ongoing sleep deprivation can compromise your immune system and make you more susceptible to health issues. Embracing a gut-healthy lifestyle can help.
- Get adequate exercise. Regular exercise improves your gut health. Choose something that’s fun to do so you’re more likely to do it, whether that’s swimming or signing up for a martial arts class.
I Can Help
If you feel your gut health is to blame for your current health challenge, or you simply want to improve your gut health, give me a call. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 319-631-0824.