Essential tips for a healthier digestive system and a stronger microbiome.
Gut health has a bigger impact than you might realize. It can affect the way you think, your cholesterol levels, skin health, and immune system. Even how you feel in the morning and your mental clarity throughout the day starts with gut health––an often overlooked essential to daily well-being.
But what do we mean when we talk about “gut health”? Gut health refers to the symbiotic relationship between the digestive system and the microbiome. When both work together, your organs, tissues, brain, and immune system get the nutrients they need to work their best.
Let’s look at how the digestive system and microbiome work together. Then we’ll discuss some ideas to help increase their overall health with practical daily advice.
The Digestive System
The digestive system refers to the process of breaking down foods and liquids into their chemical components. It’s a collective effort between the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine that gradually processes your meals until the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you eat turn into nutrients, which the body uses for energy or cellular repair. It also plays a major role in moving wastes and toxins out of the body.
The Gut Microbiome
The second component of gut health is the microbiome. The microbiome refers to the balance of good bacteria and other microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract. These trillions of microorganisms work in tandem with the digestive system to absorb and synthesize nutrients. A healthy microbiome is a critical part of your day-to-day health. It helps develop a stronger immune system and better metabolism. It also supports mental clarity, mood, and heart health.
5 Tips for Improving Gut Health
A functioning digestive system and a balanced microbiome deliver a wide range of benefits. Here are a few safe, natural, and easy ideas to help support your gut health every day.
- Eat plenty of probiotics to boost the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and miso tend to be good sources. Yogurt is also an option. However, keep in mind that the amount of probiotics in food isn’t always consistent or high enough to provide noticeable benefits like a supplement. And if you eat yogurt, just keep an eye out for added sugar.
- Add prebiotics to your diet to supply the lower digestive tract with special plant fibers that feed healthy bacteria and make it easy for your body to absorb nutrients. These prebiotics are found in foods like bananas, asparagus, garlic, and whole grains. A high-quality prebiotic supplement can also be extremely effective.
- Try digestive enzymes. These help the digestive system break down fats, proteins, and carbs into smaller molecules that are easier to absorb. Taking a quality supplement or eating natural foods like pineapple, mango, and honey can provide your body with more of them.
- Minimize sweets and sugars to maintain a healthier balance of gut bacteria. Cutting back also may help you feel less bloated or have more consistent energy levels throughout the day.
- Get enough exercise. According to a 2014 study, regular exercise led to more diverse gut flora in athletes. And more gut flora diversity leads to better digestion and improved overall health.
The Foundation for a Healthier Life
From long-term support for your brain, heart, and joints to daily advantages like less bloating, more regularity, and a stronger immune system, laying the foundation for better gut health pays dividends today––and into the future. It’s why supporting both the microbiome and digestive system with diverse food, high-quality supplements, and healthy daily habits is essential for a healthy life.